Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pilot Frixion Pen : Sewer's Warning

I've seen these new Pilot Frixion erasable gel pens come up a couple times as a good, removable fabric marker for quilters.

They're made for paper.  But not checks or legal documents!


While I have a white ceramic pencil that I love for darks, I still haven't found a tool I love for marking light fabrics.  Plus, at less than $2 a pen, you can't beat the price.

But a PEN.  Really?  I wasn't so sure.

I set up some experiments.


Kona white.  The words Rub and Iron, along with the squares, are on there with a sharpie.  That way I could keep track of exactly where I made the Frixion marks.


The second a hot iron hits that pen, the mark vanishes.  Actually pretty fun!

For paper, there's a little nub on the end of the pen that you rub over the writing to get it to vanish.  The heat of the friction is what makes the pen go away.  Didn't really work on fabric, but thought I would give it a try.  Rubbing with my finger didn't heat it up enough to get it to go away either.


But, can you see that up there?  The color is gone, but the gel is still on the fabric.  It left a faint white ghost behind.

I did this on a scrap of color, and the ghost line was there, too.  But it isn't white...it's a, I don't know, ghost?  Couldn't get it to photograph but you can see it from an angle.  (Probably wouldn't bother anybody else but a neurotic like me.)

Now, some poor souls have lost their class notes or other important stuff due to leaving their paper in a hot, summer car.  That level of heat erases the ink.  They suggest putting your paper into a sub 14degree place to get the ink back.


So, my fabric bit went into the freezer with my pizzas and waffles.  After only 5 minutes, the mark came back!

Eeek!

And it didn't go away once the fabric warmed up again.  You had to hit it with the iron to make the lines disappear.  On the up side, they DID disappear again. 

I tried adding it to my fridge.  But after a half hour in 40 degrees, the lines were still gone.  I didn't try to figure out where the line was between cold that brought back the marks and cold that did not.  But from Pilot's suggestion, I would think it's around 20 degrees F.


Next up, what happens when you wash your stuff in cold?  Will the lines come back?

I just used the coldest tap water, as if it was in the wash.  The lines did not return.  BUT, you can see in the photo below how those ghosts show....it was easy to get their photo holding it up to the window.

I would advise against using this pen to mark things like drapes or perhaps clothing that will show the marks when you're outside and the sun shines behind you. 


One last test - I gave the marks a good, soapy scrub.  They still came back after sitting in my freezer for 5 minutes.

The ability of an iron to get rid of the color didn't seem to change no matter what I did to the fabric.

It was kind of fun, like my own magic show.  Here - gone - here - gone.


I have actually used the pen on fabric since my tests, because it marks so nice and dark, to keep track of where I need to stop for the miter on my binding. It is sooo fast and easy to get the mark to disappear with a hot iron, I wasn't afraid to use it in the seam.

So, if you use a Frixion Pilot to mark your quilts, I would make sure the remaining ghost marks will be hidden in some way by a seam or perhaps your quilting. And if you end up using your fabric item outside on a sleigh ride in the winter cold, you may need to hit it with an iron once again to get rid of all the black lines that will show up.


39 comments:

Impera_Magna said...

What an EXCELLENT post about an important topic! Great idea, wonderful photos... I'm sure a lot of folks will appreciate all this info...

Thanks!

Elizabeth Dackson said...

Thank you so much for your thorough testing!! I've been curious about these pens, and now I feel fully informed :)

Brooke said...

What a fun science experiment! I may have to buy one of these just to have fun with my kiddos.

audrey said...

I have some of these pens and they're great for marking sewing lines on squares to make hsts. I don't use them beyond that really if I mark on a top its with a purple water soluble pen. But, I did play with these on my ironing board and the ghosties disappear after about 24 hrs.

audrey said...

I have some of these pens and they're great for marking sewing lines on squares to make hsts. I don't use them beyond that really if I mark on a top its with a purple water soluble pen. But, I did play with these on my ironing board and the ghosties disappear after about 24 hrs.

Dresden Quilter said...

I love your tests! Thanks for the great info.

traceyjay said...

this is awesome.
I knew about the lines coming back from the freezer, but not that they didn't wash out!

I haven't used any...unsure if I will or not.

Leslie said...

thanks for doing all the testing on these. i love using them just for writing and had seen that some ladies were using them on quilts. though that scared me too much to try. it is good to know that my writing could disappear in the car. that would be bad.

Katie B. said...

I love your experiments! Thanks so much for sharing. I, too, had wondered about these pens, but I hadn't tried them out yet. I think the ghosts would bother me!

CitricSugar said...

Great investigative reporting! I have had a couple of unfortunately results with marking pens that are supposed to disappear and don't. I might have tried this one but I think I'll skip it. I have a great blue ink plus wet eraser combo thing from Clover but it doesn't show up on darker fabrics....

Flaun of I Plead Quilty! said...

Definitely staying away from this pen. Thanks for the 411!

Leila said...

Great info!

I always wonder about the students that walk to school in freezing weather. Will all the marks they erased show back up as the papers in their backpack get cold? Will they disappear again when they get inside?

quirky granola girl said...

thank you for taking the time to do all of those tests on fabric.

Marjorie Smith said...

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to experiment for us. Now, I know what to expect.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

You did exactly the same type of experiment I did with these pens and I had the same results. :o) I've had a few people comment that they don't plan on keeping their quilts in the freezer...but if you live in a cold climate and keep quilts in the loft then it might as well be the freezer :o) Great post and a message very worth passing on...

SueC56 said...

Great post! Very interesting and surprising. Just to make an additional point, the Frixion pens are available in a spectrum of colors, also, so you can tailor (no pun intended) your color use to your fabric.

SueC
http://SuesSewingStudio.blogspot.com

Indianna said...

Thanks for this, I've been using them to trace embroidery patterns...hope nobody puts them in a freezer or they might get a shock!

Unknown said...

I tried it out also, but washed my test block with Frixion markings with Synthrapol (available at most quilt shops). I agitated it with a toothbrush, and the gel ghost shadow disappeared, and did not appear after freezing it.

Regina said...

Thank you for this great post!

LynCC said...

Wow - that's wild that they won't wash out. Makes you wonder about acidity and long-term performance - will it lose its disappearing capability 20 years down the line? Will it erode the fabric? Hmm. . .

Anne Davies said...

Interesting reading thank you xx

Bonnie said...

I have frequently commented that I don't trust these pens. They were not designed for fabric as you mention. Thanks for a thorough discussion. I too wonder about the chemical residue.

Sharon said...

Interesting article...I use the pens on marking my quilt and have found that after about a day or so the ghost does go away. But thanks for all the info was wondering about paper.

Chelly said...

Thank you for doing this experiment! I heard about these pens but was leery.

Esther F. said...

Thank you very much for this report! I was advised to try these pens out, but I'll pass! I will be using the blue water pens and tailers chalk instead.
Esther
esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com
ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

Annette Johnston said...

I've
Used the orange Frixxion pen on a very detailed applique quilt which I've quilted with a double basketweave pattern. My fabric was prewashed which I highly recommend because sizings
! Spinning oils, etc., can and do cause problems with any markers. I had to remark my quilt at leadt 3 times. This was finished this past winter and those marks have not come back at all. If they do, I'll just touch it with an iron to rid the quilt of the marks. Interestingly, the marks did tend to fade as I handquilted, so who knows...maybe we're making a fuss about nothing. Just my two bits worth, but I'm going to keep using these pens. I kive that I can see where my quilting marks are.

N Gibellini said...

Hi, thanks for all your experiments but what is the SCIENCE behind the disappearing and reappearing of the pen??

Linnie214 said...

Very good info. Great fun experiment n well done! I hv only one additional comment. I use white vinegar to freshen all washable sewing projects. My query is..would the white vinegar remove the "ghost" residue? White vinegar is a wonderful thing!!!!

BrendaLou said...

I own a quilt shop and we sell Frixon Pens and see a lot of their use. Be careful on light Batik fabrics as the darker pen inks do not totally disappear. I use these pens all the time but for marking on light Batiks I'd only mark them where it won't show on the finished quilt.

Sew Frenzi said...

I tried the blue ink on some appliqué pieces I was tracing on fabric. When I ironed the pieces the ink completely disappeared.... Yay!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Adele said...

I used this ink on a quilt top that I don't plan to wash as it's primarily fused. I've used the pen on other quilt tops with great success, but, this time, I saw the "ghosts". Not sure if there is any way to solve this problem because I can't wash the top in Synthrapol as one of the readers suggested. Any other ideas??

Unknown said...

use a blow dryer and keep it on for a minute after it disappears. Your quilt will not flatten that way and the longer heat lets gives time to thoroughly go away.

Cynthia said...

I used a red one in a few places on medium green fabric on a quilt I made about 4 years ago...I recently discovered orange spots where I used the pen that I can not get rid of! Ironing doesn't work. :(

Pam said...

I used these pens to mark a quilt, I also have ghost marks therefore I am now looking to use a different method. Glad It's not just me. Thanks for the info it was much appreciated.

Susan said...

I have used these pens to mark the quilting lines on a number of quilts and haven't had any problems with "ghost lines" afterwards. One problem I did have was that after I marked a doll quilt my cat sat on it and the heat from her body made some of my markings disappear. I guess I should try putting it in the freezer to see if they come back!

Barbara said...

Thank you for taking the time to share this.

Lauren said...

Thanks so much! I keep seeing these in sewing tutorials, but I have been cautious to use them on my garment sewing. This helped a ton.

afterdarksewing said...

I recently bought some of these pens. I love how the marks disappear so suddenly with the iron but I haven't noticed any 'ghost' lines. I'll be looking out for them now! Thanks!!

kelly jones said...

I love these pens and have used as described for my quilting. I tought they would be great for journaling. Not so sure anymore. I left my journal in a hot car and all my entries disappeared, so into the freezer and all came back. But now trying to figure out if can make ink permanent?? If anyone knows please let me know. Thanks!