I used a piece of muslin ironed to the waxy size of a piece of freezer paper. I thought it would hold the fabric in place and be smoother to write on than placing it on sandpaper.
All five pens had black ink. They are
- a Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen, .7 mm, with black India ink
- a Zebra (Sadly, I neglected to save the packaging for this pen so have no details about it. Since I placed it with the other pens to test on paper, I know it a pen with permanent ink.)
- a Pigma MICRON, 08, .5 mm
- two ZIG Writers, doubled-tipped, .5 mm and 1.2 mm (I think one of these was older than the other, or had possibly been partially used.)
I identified the pen when I wrote with it, then added a few larger words with some of the pens.
I wrote the same things twice on the muslin intending to cut it in half and wash only one side. Wouldn't you know, I forgot to cut and after pressing to set the ink, I plunged the whole, uncut piece into warm water sudsed with a few drops of Dawn dish soap. Ah, well. It bounced in the water a bit then lingered for half an hour or so. I rinsed with warm water and pressed the muslin dry.
These photos aren't the clearest but you can get an idea of how the pens wrote and weathered the wash by clicking on the photos to enlarge them.
One of the things I love about digital cameras is the macro setting because I can enlarge the images on my computer to see things I wouldn't otherwise have good enough vision to see. Here are a few post-wash, close-up images.
I liked how the Faber Castell and the Zebra wrote but I don't think they fared well in the wash. I think with a dozen more washings the writing would fade to a shadow.
I didn't like how the Pigma MICRON wrote but it seemed to be the most resilient to washing.
The Zig Writers wrote okay but, again, they didn't fare well in the wash.
You can also notice that the Zigs seemed to bleed a little, to the point that there was a grey shadow around the writing.
The most interesting thing to me was the fact that none of these pens' ink penetrated the fibers of the fabric. All remained on the surface. If you look at the close-ups you can see what I mean.
One consideration with using a pen is knowing that it won't wash out. If I make a mistake when writing -- oops! I'll have to either begin again or find some way to remove the writing by adding a patch or making some other change to repair the mistake.
My Sweet Land of Liberty eagle is appliqued to the fabric, below left, which is coarser than muslin. A pen may not work. What do you think? If I want words on this one I may have to embroider them.
There you have the results of my experiments with pen and ink on fabric. I don't know if this is helpful to anyone else but it sets my mind at ease to use a MICRON Pigma pen to write words on quilt blocks. If I see other brands of permanent marking pens that can be used on fabric so I can experiment with them.