I’ve been embroidering for over ten years, and I tend to stick to the method I know works well for me for transferring embroidery designs to fabric. I most frequently use Sulky wash away stabilizer or water-soluble pen. However, I’ve been hearing good things about Frixion ball erasable gel pens for some time and I wanted to give them a try! Fellow stitchers have been recommending this pen and saying that the ink disappears like magic with the swipe of an iron, so I decided I’d test it out and do an in-depth Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Gel Pen review!
This post is part of a series of posts I have about hand embroidery supplies.
Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links in it. I receive a small commission from purchases at no additional cost to the buyer. I only recommend products I would use and love and that are of good quality. All opinions are my own!
What Are Frixion Pens?
These pens are great for using on fabric, so they can be used for quilting, sewing, embroidery, etc. There are, however, different kinds of pens that Pilot makes. The Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Gel Pens are the ones that you can erase from fabric, so make sure you’re buying that particular type when using them on fabric! You can buy this kind from places like Amazon or Etsy. They come in multiple colors, such as red, blue, purple, and green. For this review, I’m just using black.
How Do Frixion Pens Work?
In order to use these pens, you can draw your design directly onto the fabric and stitch your embroidery like you normally would. Once you’re done, the marks are easily erasable with an iron. Just like any stabilizer or fabric marker, I would suggest testing your pen on a piece of fabric before using it on your embroidery.
Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Gel Pen Review
Now for the fun part, the actual review!
I decided to choose five different color fabrics to test out. I used a variety of linen, cotton, and canvas fabrics, all of which I use the most frequently to embroider with. I wanted to test out a few different types and colors to really put these pens to the test and make sure they work consistently.
Testing Frixion Pens On Fabric
First, I drew hearts on all five different colors of fabric to test out how well the ink disappears on each one. I ironed the designs without stitching on them to see how well they went away.
For all of these tests, I used the correct iron heat setting for the type of fabric I was using and I used dry heat.
After Ironing The Fabric
The white fabric had a yellowish ghost mark on it that was pretty obvious, and the dark red had a slightly lighter pink ghost mark, but it was hard to get it to show up in the photo. The marks on the rest of the fabrics almost completely disappeared.
Next, I wanted to see how well the eraser worked. I figured if you’re transferring a design and make a mistake, it would be easier to erase the mistake instead of ironing the entire design and starting over. I was able to erase the marks slightly, but definitely not as well as ironing them. The fabric started to get a bit fuzzy and pill after I erased it, so I would try to limit using the eraser on fabric.
Testing The Pens With Embroidery
The next thing I wanted to test was how well the stencil disappeared from under embroidery. I drew and then embroidered a heart on each color of the fabric and purposefully left some pen marks showing through to see how well they would erase.
Embroidery Before Ironing
Embroidery After Ironing
Surprisingly, all of the embroidery looked great and I didn’t notice any marks around the designs I stitched!
Testing Heat Erasable Pens When Exposed To Cold Temperatures
Finally, I decided to test to see if the marks would reappear if the embroidery were to be subjected to cold temperatures. While researching this pen, I found a lot of people saying that you have to be careful with these pens because the marks reappear when exposed to the cold. This may not be a problem for some people if you’re never going to expose your embroidery to the cold, but for someone that is mailing an embroidery or storing it in an area that isn’t temperature controlled, it may be a problem.
I added a mark to each of the embroideries and ironed it off so that I could really see how much ink was reappearing and also how it would look underneath the embroidery that I stitched. The photo above shows before I put them in the freezer and after. As you can see, even after an hour in the freezer some of the marks reappeared. However, it didn’t seem super noticeable around the embroidery.
How To Get Rid of Ghost Marks
Those stubborn marks on some of the fabrics don’t seem to come off even if you iron them again. I found this post all about what these marks even are and how to get rid of them. However, it involves scrubbing the fabric and using ink removers, which I wouldn’t recommend if you’ve already embroidered on the piece of fabric. It may be useful to check out though if you’re interested!
To sum everything up, here’s a breakdown of all of the findings!
- I really like the fine tip of these pens. It makes it a lot easier to transfer more intricate details to the fabric. Compared to a lot of water-soluble pens, the tip is much finer.
- The color is bold enough to see really well on the fabric. Some transfer methods aren’t as easy to see, so these pens are a plus
- With some methods, (such as the wash-away Sulky or Pellon stabilizer) you have to use a permanent marker or printer ink to transfer the design. This runs the risk of the ink running when you wash it off and ruining your embroidery. You don’t have to worry about that with these pens.
- With water-soluble markers and stabilizers, you have to wash the fabric and let it dry, so it can take a while to finish the embroidery. The process with these pens is way quicker to erase.
- These pens definitely leave ghost marks even when you iron them. I tried leaving the iron on for an extended period of time but it didn’t make them go away.
- The marks can reappear in colder temperatures.
- The eraser on the pen doesn’t work super well on fabric, but if you made a small mistake you could potentially erase it a little bit.
Are Frixion Pens Worth It?
As you can see in the review, I believe that there are more pros than cons with these pens. I would always test out a piece of fabric first before using the pens to embroider a design. The color of the fabric seems to really affect how much the marks end up disappearing.
If you don’t live in a cold climate where you’re embroidery will be exposed to cold or if you’re planning on keeping the embroidery and not shipping it in potentially cold weather, you shouldn’t have to worry much about the marks reappearing.
I think these pens would be great for personal work, but if you’re making an embroidery that you plan to sell, try to be careful that you’re not leaving any of the design showing through. As long as you keep these things in mind, these pens were really fun to use and I would recommend them!
Amanda is a hand embroidery artist and teacher. With over 15 years of experience in the craft industry and embroidery, she owns and runs Crewel Ghoul, sharing tutorials and patterns to help inspire fellow crafters to get inspired and creative. In addition to running this website, she teaches on Skillshare and Youtube.