Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2004


Published in Textile Specialty Group Postprints 2004. Used by permission of the Textile Specialty Group of AIC.


Despite reasonable concerns that fabric marking pen inks may prove damaging over time, some quilters use them to temporarily mark quilting designs on quilt tops. Unfortunately, no published results concerning long-term effects of these products exist. The purpose of this study was to determine whether marking pen inks contribute to degradation or discoloration over time. Samples were marked with one of three brands of marking pen and subjected to ink removal treatments, followed by heat or light aging. Changes in color and breaking strength were measured before and after heat or light aging. Results showed that a water immersion ink removal treatment is the most effective method for removing marking pen ink and was associated with significantly less discoloration and strength loss than eraser pen removal treatments. This suggests that quilters should use marking pens only if they immediately launder or soak in water their newly completed quilts. Curators considering a quilt for acquisition may wish to ask if marking pens were used. If that is not feasible, then it is advisable to have a specialist examine potential acquisitions for tell-tale traces of marking pen ink. If detected, wet-cleaning prior to storage should be considered.