Whether you're writing a quote on your favorite T-shirt or signing a message on a memory quilt, you can use many different tools write on fabric.
Fabric Pens and Markers
Fabric pens and markers made specifically for fabric come in a variety of colors and thicknesses. Fine-tipped pens or markers work best on fabric because they minimize bleeding of the letters.
Most fabric pens and markers are washable, but check your specific manufacturer's instructions to be sure.
Many fabric pens and markers require heat setting after writing. Toss the fabric into the dryer on the hottest setting to set it, or check the manufacturer's instructions for other options.
Fabric can shift as you write with the pen or marker. To avoid movement, iron the shiny, waxy side of freezer paper to the back of the fabric with a hot, dry iron. This will stabilize the fabric.
Fabric crayons, like fabric pens and markers, come in an array of colors. However, applying them to the fabric is a little different.
First, draw your design on a non-glossy paper using fabric crayons. Office paper, for example, works well for this. Keep in mind that any numbers or letters will be reversed once they are transferred to the fabric.
Place the drawing face-down onto a synthetic fabric.
Most fabric crayons will wash out of cotton fabric. Iron the drawing onto a synthetic fabric if you plan to wash it.
Set the iron to a dry cotton setting. Use slow, steady pressure and lift the iron to apply heat to the entire drawing. The heat will transfer the design to the fabric.
Chalkboard Fabric and Chalk
Tailor's chalk is the most common chalk for crafting, but this type of chalk is primarily used for transferring pattern markings to sewing patterns. If you want to write on fabric, it's best to use chalkboard fabric paired with chalk.
Like a chalkboard, the chalk will disappear from the chalkboard fabric when washed, so it is not a good option for permanent writing.
Permanent markers are not very predictable because they behave differently, depending on the fiber you are writing on.
Permanent markers tend to bleed more than markers specifically made for fabric. Test your permanent marker on scrap fabric before writing on your actual project.
Like fabric pens and markers, permanent markers can bleed and cause handwriting to look blurry. When you're testing the permanent marker on your fabric, apply a few sprays of starch to the fabric first to prevent bleeding and create a firmer surface on which to write. This is especially important if you are planning to write on a quilt label or other memorabilia on which the handwriting should be very legible.
Permanent marker will wash out of some fibers but not all. If you plan to wash your fabric, run a test swatch through the washing machine first to see if the permanent marker washes out or fades.
Fabric paint is a thicker alternative to fabric pens and permanent markers. Fabric paint comes in both squeeze bottles and pens so that you can control the flow of the paint how you choose.
Most fabric paint is washable and will not cause the design to fade; however, check the manufacturer's instructions for your specific fabric paint to verify that it is washable. With most fabric paint, you will need to allow the fabric to dry for at least two days before you wash it.
If you are writing on fabric with two layers such as some T-shirts, insert cardboard between the layers to prevent the paint from bleeding through.