Product Review :: Sewline Fabric Pencils
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.