Is there anything I can do to "fix" Sharpie pen marks so the signatures don't run??  

Name: Anne


Jacquard Tee Juice Fabric Markers

Jacquard Tee Juice Fine Liner Fabric Markers

Jacquard Flowable Extender 2.25 oz. jar flowable extender

Jacquard Flowable Extender
colorless fabric paint binder


Pebeo Setaskrib Markers

Pebeo Setaskrib Markers

Setaskrib professional quality felt tip markers are the perfect choice for drawing on all types of fabrics, clothing, and accessories. Use their fine, broad, or "brush" points to add clear, bright, or fluorescent colors to whatever you're designing. The possibilities are limitless. Setaskrib markers are easy to use for stenciling, flat tints, or producing graduations, and can be mixed together and layered to create eye-catching effects. They are available in 18 bright and luminous colors. Heat-setting with an iron is required. Machine washable.

Marvy Fabric Marker

Marvy Fabric Marker

Mark, draw, and write on any fabric. This non-toxic, permanent color dries instantly — no steaming or ironing is needed. Designs made with Marvy Fabric Markers never fade, even if the fabric is washed or dry cleaned.

Yasutomo Fabricmate Superfine Markers

Yasutomo Fabricmate Superfine Markers

Use Fabricmate Superfine Markers to draw or write on cloth as easily as you would on paper! It's simpler than using paints and brushes. These fine point markers can produce either a fine line or a broad line. Colors mix together beautifully and there's no mess or cleanup. Heat setting is not required for permanence.

Message: I'm a novice...  I'm making "handprint" coverlet for my daughter with squares of plain muslin, fabric paint, and signed with Sharpie permanent markers.  One of the squares got wet and I see that Sharpie signature has run, bleeding into the surrounding fabric!  Help!  Is there anything I can do to "fix" the signatures on the other squares before washing so the other signatures don't run??  

Thank you very much for considering my question---I couldn't find anything on your site that answered it, but I certainly understand if you don't have time to answer.  I really wish I'd seen your site before I started this project---I'd do a LOT of things quite differently! But it's taken me almost a year to collect 50 squares and I cannot afford to start over.

I wonder if someone used a pen other than the Sharpie one you provided, because while I've seen Sharpie pen signatures fade over the years from washing, I have not seen them bleed.

I think you should take a two-pronged attack on this. First, get an actual fabric marker that you know will work fine. I recommend that you get a known brand, not a store brand or off-brand, if you see any of the latter. You could use the fine-point Jacquard Tee Juice Fabric Markers,  Yasutomo Fabricmate Superfine Markers,  Pebeo Setaskrib Markers, or Marvy Fabric Markers. Crayola Fabric Markers should be fine, too. The key is that the marker must specifically claim to be permanent on fabric. Being permanent on paper is not as good as being permanent on cloth. Look for permanent fabric markers from a crafts store, or possibly a fabric store, or order online from Blick Art Materials or Dharma Trading Company. 

Once you've found a suitable fabric marker, trace over the signatures so that you are sure that they are present in good permanent ink. Let this ink dry for several days if possible. It is important not to wash marker marks as soon as you have made them. Then heat-set the ink by ironing the reverse side of the fabric for one to two minutes on the cotton setting. (Protect your ironing board with paper or unwanted cloth, just in case.) Some markers may not need to be heat-set. I don't know if heat-setting will help the original pen marks, but it's worth a try.

The ink in fabric markers is actually a fabric paint, not a dye, so it will wear off given enough abrasion. You may want to wash anything you decorate with fabric markers on a delicate cycle, and line-dry it, for as long as you have it, in order to reduce the wear that will remove markings.

After this, you can wash in hot water to remove the excess smeared ink that ran. Hot water is much more effective than warm water at removing unbound dyes and loose pigments.

Alternatively, you can probably "glue" some of the ink from water-soluble markers in place by painting over them with a transparent colorless fabric paint, such as Neopaque Flowable Extender or Versatex Clear Extender. I have had pencil marks on fabric made permanent by painting over them with a transparent fabric paint; the binder in these paints is essentially an acrylic paint. The clear fabric paint will leave a slight but perceptible feel on the fabric. I think it would be most effective to paint over both the back and the front of the fabric. Be sure to do a test run on a scrap of similar fabric to make sure that it looks and feels okay to you.

By the way, Retayne is a quilter's dye fixative that I do not recommend for your situation. It helps to lock non-washfast dyes in place; however, it is applied in a large amount of hot water, so it won't be any good for anything which will run and be ruined the first time it is immersed in water. Retayne and similar products are ideal for fixing poor dyes such as all-purpose or direct dyes, but only on fabric that is dyed a single solid color, since some dye is bound to run before the Retayne in the water can fix it in place.

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Posted: Friday - August 29, 2008 at 08:24 AM          

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