Product Review :: Sewline Fabric Pencils

May 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm 31 comments

In a search to find the perfect fabric marker I stumbled across the Sewline pencil. Using a ceramic-based lead, the pencil is designed to give you a thin clean line while still being erasable/removable.

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Available in a rainbow of colors (white, pink, yellow, green, brown), the pencil comes with a packet of six lead refills and has one eraser in its top. I got the white, pink, and green pencils to make sure I had a lead that would show on whatever fabric I was marking.

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I like the form factor of the pencil. It’s nothing special when compared to a mechanical pencil (comfortable to hold with a nice diameter barrel) but it’s vastly different from other fabric marking tools I have. And I don’t think you can tell from the photos…but the pencil has a slightly triangular shape to the barrel. Would you like to see my informal test of how the lines compare with other markers?

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As you can see, the Sewline (far right) makes the finest line. The tailor’s chalk (center) is the most difficult to control and left a small amount of chalk dust. The chalk pencil (far left), while easier to control than the tailor’s chalk, left a large amount of dust and it dulls quickly requiring frequent sharpening. There may be an argument that the Sewline is best as a pattern/design tracing tool while tailor’s chalk is best for marking clothing for tailoring since the Sewline definitely needs a firm surface underneath the fabric to work while the tailor’s chalk leaves a heavy mark by just rubbing against the fabric. But since I make quilts and toys and I have no clue how to resize clothing, the Sewline would seem to be the tool for me.

The Sewline pencil drew fairly smoothly and I adore that fine fine line. I’m just starting to explore applique and I can see how this fine line will be perfect for tracing out the more intricate shapes. And of course – you don’t have to stop to sharpen it. In my quick tests, the lead did not break, but if this is like other mechanical pencils…the thin leads are probably prone to snapping if you extend them too far or apply too much pressure. I did encounter some minor drag on the fabric when I drew and had to hold the fabric down with my hand to keep the fabric from stretch while I marked. But I have a feeling that was largely due to the amount of pressure I was using.

I’m glad that I got multiple colors because, as you’ll see below, each color shows up with varying success on different colored fabrics. Sewline is coming out with a 3-chambered pencil (just like those pens we had in grade school) that holds 3 different leads at once.
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I think I’ll be using the pink pencil the most frequently as it seems the most versatile.

Finally – the all important eraser test. Here’s where my praise of the Sewline pencil stumbles a little.
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I made a single horizontal line of each color on the 4 swatches. The vertical line in the center divides the eraser test from the water test. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect/professional test…but I have a 6-month-old so I do what I can with the time I have. I’m sure you understand.

The “E” indicates the eraser side (the right side) of the test and I used water on the left-hand side. I used 4 colors of Kona Cotton as the fabric. Overall, it seemed like a toss-up between the erasing or using water to remove the marks. If you click on the photo and view it larger, the detail shows better. None of the marks came off completely through erasing and the eraser tending to leave behind annoying little curlings of the used eraser (just like a regular eraser – so who am I to complain?) And the water seemed to be just as effective as the eraser to remove the mark. To be fair, I did use a fair amount of pressure to make the lines…so maybe if you draw more gently more of the mark will come off. Also – I didn’t wash the swatches in soapy water…so perhaps more of the markings would come off that way?

My final verdict – I’m somewhere between liking the Sewline pencil and loving it. The downside of the marks leaving traces behind after erasing is a dark mark against it. But the benefits of the smooth, fine, clean line with the ease of use of a comfy mechanical pencil outweighs the erasing issue to me. They’re perfect for drawing applique shapes and tracing toy pattern pieces – which is what I mostly needed a marking tool for, so they’re perfect for me.

I bought my Sewline penciles at the Fat Quarter Shop. But you can also find the products HERE, HERE, and HERE. (You can find them lots of other places too…but I can only list so many links.)

And yes, I did get the Sewline fabric glue pen too. I’m using it to do some strip piecing and will write up a quick review soon.

Entry filed under: Commentary, Crafty, Sewing. Tags: .

What’s wrong with this picture? What happened to the knitting?

31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy Taylor  |  May 21, 2009 at 1:07 am

    I bought a sewline pen and used it on a light pick imperial batise
    smocked dress, and I have washed it 4 times and I can’t get it out.
    This was to be a gift for a co-worker of mine. I am very upset about not being able to get it out. I keep hearing how great this pen is, and I just have not had any luck with it

    Reply
    • 2. Charlotte  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:25 am

      HI Cindy

      Just wash in warm water with some detergent and it should come out completely.

      Reply
  • 3. Margo  |  July 23, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Where can I get refills for the pencil?

    Reply
    • 4. Lisa  |  September 24, 2009 at 10:36 am

      Hi Margo,

      Which color(s) of refills would you like? I would be happy to order them for you!

      Reply
  • 5. Glenda  |  November 25, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I just realised I left some markings on and then pressed them – do you think they will come out – can’t take the marks of yet because they are part of Dear Jane and they need pressing before squaring etc

    Reply
    • 6. Vicki Halucha  |  October 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      I have accidentally ironed over the marks on 100% cotton fabric and was able to remove them easily with a little spritzing of water.

      Reply
  • 7. Joyce Boghosian  |  April 13, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Sewline is the best. I have a collection of Fons and Porters, but the lead doesn’t mark as well as Sewline’s and the F and P lead breaks easily.

    Reply
  • 8. Cynthia Mitchell  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Where in the U.S can I purchase these pens? Is there a retail store I can go to or order from? I would appreciate any help!
    Thanks, Cindi

    Reply
  • 9. Lisa Peden  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Cindi,

    I’m not sure if my last post went through, so I’m posting again. I carry all of the Sewline Fabric Pencils in my online quilt shop–at 20% below suggested retail prices. My shipping prices on the Sewline items are low too; every package less than 13 ounces goes via First Class Mail. I am located in Texas.

    My site is at: http://www.LisasStitchingPost.com There is a photo and link to the Sewline items near the bottom of the home page.

    Hope I can help!

    Lisa

    Reply
  • 10. Lisa Peden  |  July 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Foofanagle,

    I apologize if advertising is not allowed on your blog. Many of my customers have had difficulty locating Sewline items locally. That is because United Notions is the exclusive distributor for Sewline products in the U.S. I have an account with United Notions, so I am able to offer Sewline products in my online quilt shop to those of you who cannot find them locally. Here is a link to the page with all of the Sewline products in my store:

    http://lisasstitchingpost.com/index.php?cPath=3_12_61

    Reply
  • 11. Mary  |  September 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Markings made with Sewline black pencil did not come out of white quilt. I’ve tried alcohol, Shout, vinegar, liquid dish soap with no luck. Do you have any suggestions? This is a wedding quilt I’m to give to the bride and groom Sept 5. Any ideas will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • 12. Vicki Halucha  |  October 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      What about Oxyclean? I have been able to get stains out of clothing that stayed put with other methods? Simple Green might work as well.

      Reply
  • 13. Glenda  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I used the green on a Dear Jane applique block right side and accidentally pressed it – it was very difficult to get it out but eventually I got onto liquid bodywash (Australian) used neat, left on for about 5 minutes and then rinsed out thoroughly and that took it out.

    Reply
  • 14. Stella  |  January 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    How do I refill the pencil? I am having a big problen doing that. I can insert the lead,but when I follow directions, the lead at the top will not stay and when I try to draw,it backs down.
    Hope this makes sense.

    Reply
  • 15. Anita  |  February 3, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Hi, I bought an ivory antique tulle petticoat from a vintage store…it’s just beautiful! But, I took it to a seamstress who does alterations to have a few different places repaired. When I got it home they had left on the waistband a 3″inch mark in the middle of it going vertically which looks like pencil. I called them and they told me to bring it back to them, but I really don’t want to as this is really old and vey full, plus I’m not really happy with them to begin with! She told me it was “chalk” but it looks just like pencil to me??? I am not a seamstress! I can’t believe as it is very old and you have to handle it delicately, why they even used it? She said I can iron it out, when I asked her how I could get it out, but now I’m not so sure what to do as I’ve read about so many different types of chalks & pencils!???
    How would you go about getting thos 3″ line off of an ivory colored, elastic waistband????? Thank You,

    Reply…

    Reply
  • 16. Dottie  |  March 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I, too used black pencil to mark baby quilt and the markings have NOT

    Reply
  • 17. Dottie  |  March 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    oK, Try again—the black marks did not come out despite my washing twice once with quilt soap and then with regular laundry soap. What can I do to get rid of the marks that are on a yellow fabric????

    Reply
  • 18. Vicki Swensen  |  July 18, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Dottie: Try some Sew Clean. It works wonders on a lot of substances. I’ve been using white on black and Sew Clean brings it right out.

    Reply
  • 19. Kandace  |  September 29, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Thanks so much for the thorough review! I bought a pink pencil after reading your comment about the color’s versatility, and I absolutely love it. I’m so glad that you blogged about this item. Thank you!

    Reply
  • 20. Stella  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    yes, the pen is great and I do love it for marking.
    My problem is the refilling of the pen. When I load it,the lead won’t stay. It retracts.

    Any hints?

    Reply
  • 22. Elaine  |  November 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

    SewLine’s website says washing w/ detergent OR exposing to sunlight! I am nervous as I marked with pink–and water has not taken it off. I will be washing the completed quilt after the binding is complete. I hope that the sunlight trick will work…

    Reply
  • 24. Moo  |  November 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Sewline makes another product called, “AquaEraser,” which removes their ceramic pencil markings from fabric. I have that in my store–as well as the refill bottles of detergent and packages of refill fiber points. http://lisasstitchingpost.com/product_info.php?cPath=69_61&products_id=419

    Reply
  • 25. Kathy Abbs  |  March 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I have sewline black ceramic lines on white cotton and they will not come out. I have used sewline eraser, kirkland detergent and oxyclean presoak. The lines are lighter in color but they are not gone. It was a baby gift. Sewline is a terrible waste of time and money. I am going to try the aqua eraser next but online blogs have been saying that won’t take marks out 100% either. People who say they love sewline marking pencils are marking their fabrics in such a way the line gets covered up by other fabrics or hidden in seams, like in applique or darts. If your lines will be exposed, do not use sewline products.

    Reply
  • 26. Elle  |  July 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Why won’t the leads drop down into the end for me to use as a marker/

    Reply
  • 27. Carla  |  January 8, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I Work with felt. Does this sewline fabric pencil work with this? If not any suggestions on what does?

    Reply
    • 28. foofanagle  |  January 8, 2013 at 1:21 am

      It depends on if you need the lines to disappear. The marks will not effectively erase from felt. But if you just need to outline cut lines or something like that, they work fine. Just be careful with your pressure as you draw or the “drag” of the felt may snap the fine lead of the pencil.

      Cheers! Suz

      Reply
  • 29. Pamela Olney  |  September 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I marked a Christmas quilt with pink sew line lead. The marks did not rub out with eraser nor did they come completely out with water. In desperation I used rubbing alcohol and the marks came out about 95%. Will try more when the borders dry completely.
    Pam O

    Reply
  • 30. Susan Caddle Walsh  |  June 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Hi i have been using my sewline marker pen i dont know how to change the refiils thankyou

    Reply
  • 31. Kathy  |  August 28, 2016 at 3:23 am

    I just purchased the click PENCIL. I thought I may need an eraser but after your review, I will use water. I too am using for applique and hope it works as well as I want. Also got the glue pen! A little pricey but other glue sticks seem bulky and dry out.I hope it comes out easily. Some say it doesn’t.

    Reply

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