When it comes to customizing clothing, tote bags, and other textile objects, fabric markers are convenient tools that can produce good results with a quick turnaround. The paint can be applied like ink, allowing you to write, draw, and color with ease. After properly drying—and if required, ironing— the fabric to set your colorful artwork, these pigments are safe to run through the washing machine. Most fabric markers work best on cotton and canvas, and can withstand use on a variety of textiles and umpteen laundry cycles. Choosing what works best for you may also depend on whether you’re working on a small, one-off project or doling out markers during a crafting party. Fortunately, fabric markers come in a wide assortment of colors and tip shapes to suit any need.
1. Arteza Fabric Markers
Whether you want to personalize a pair of canvas sneakers or a denim jacket, these fabric markers from Arteza are just the tools to help you achieve your desired result. As easy to use as regular markers, they are highly pigmented and unlikely to feather; the bright colors also won’t fade after washing. Colors in each set of 30 pens range from flamingo and orchid purple to elephant gray, and they blend well to create smooth transitions. Notably, each pen is dual-tipped—featuring one fine tip, the other ultrafine—to ensure precision for lettering and drawing alike.
2. Tulip Permanent Markers
Perfect for detail work, the 20 markers in this set come in a good range of colors and have bullet tips—fine points that stay sharp even after a lot of use. Like most such markers, these are best suited for fabrics with tight weaves, like cotton, rather than fuzzier, rougher surfaces, like felt, that require more ink and effort. Despite their precise points, these markers may bleed a bit on some fabrics, so use a light touch. What you can depend on is easy flowing ink that produces vibrant, long-lasting colors that hold up well after several washes; should the color fade a bit, you can easily retouch it.
3. Sharpie Stained Fabric Markers
The design of these Sharpie fabric markers may be a little zany, but the tools mean business. The markers have brush tips that are easy to control, whether outlining or coloring in areas. The soft nib also allows you to control the thickness of your lines. With good performance on almost all kinds of fabric, from muslin to canvas to wool, these markers make for a versatile pick, although the 8-count set does not offer a ton of color variety. This is a particularly great option for those on a time-crunch or for use by children, as Sharpie markers don’t require ironing to heat-set the paint. Store markers capped and upright to preserve life.
4. Crafts 4 All Fabric Markers
Featuring fine bullet tips, these markers are great for detail work and for outlining and shading in small areas, although projects that call for a lot of coloring or filling in may take a toll on them. Still, Crafts 4 All’s markers remain a good choice for their ease of use and premium pigments that resist fading and bleeding, but like most markers, the longer you hold pen to fabric, the greater the chance of bleeding.
5. Best Fabric Markers
This set of markers stands out for its full rainbow of distinctive colors, the majority of them eye-catching, electric shades. Anything but subtle, these hues adhere to many textiles, including rougher fabrics like burlap. The markers have short, fine, bullet tips for creating thin and clearly defined lines; they’re especially suitable for writing. The paint releases evenly with every stroke and doesn’t bleed unless you rest it on the same area for too long. The pens hold less ink than some others, and they may snag certain fabrics.