Marker Dying

A recent magazine article taught a lesson on coloring fabric using Sharpie™ markers. I haven’t done much fabric dying – I’d rather buy beautiful hand-dyed fabrics from those who are good at it, but while Linda and I were in Paducah, we decided to give this technique a try. We purchased two different types of Sharpies™.


The first lesson we learned is that the “Stained Brush tip” markers on the left didn’t work for this process at all. The regular “Permanent Fine Line” markers are the way to go.

According to the article, you were to draw your design on card stock, color it in well, place it face down on bleached muslin (we used 2 layers), and then drop alcohol on the back of the card stock – allowing it to soak through. So we did just that, and ended up with less than great results (in large part because we used the wrong markers). Here are our first attempts:

Sharpie Chris draw and 1st Sharpie Linda 1st attemptIt was getting late and we weren’t in the mood to start over, so we heavily recolored the image directly on the fabric, with the permanent markers, and draped the colored fabric over an inverted tall glass in a sink. Then we poured alcohol over the whole thing (with the extra piece of muslin underneath).

Sharpie Linda glass

I did mine first and the results were better.

Marker dying

So Linda colored hers in even more elaborately – and we both really liked the result!

Sharpie Linda dyed

It doesn’t resemble her original drawing much, but the created fabric has potential.

Have you played with a technique like this? Any results you’d like to share?

6 Opinions

  • Kara said:

    I did this second method with the ladies in the women’s shelter I worked at. I talked about not always being able to control the results but still finding unique beauty.

  • Carmen Sommers said:

    I do almost the same technique with my grandkids…we get new t-shirts.I let them draw all over them with permanent markers then spray they with alcohol..hang them out to dry the press with a hot iron or put in hot dryer for 15 min.

  • glutenfree4me said:

    We did markers on t shirt. I like your block better

  • Lori Nicholas said:

    This looks like fun and the colors are beautiful! On another note, we met at Tribeca during the quilt show. I picked up my husband’s grandmother’s restored treadle this weekend, and may have obtained a needle to fit your Howe. If you’ll send your surface address, I’ll gladly send the needle.

    • Chris said:

      Hi Lori, What exciting news. I’m so pleased that I may finally be able to have that machine work! I wasn’t able to email you through the address on this comment, so I’m adding my snail mail address here: Chris Kirsch, N7568 Ceasar Road, Watertown, WI 53094. Thanks!

  • Linda admin

    I have done sharpie marker dying and have taught it. I use 91% alcohol for best bleed. I draw right on the fabric. and just touch the color with the alcohol. if you put a drop of alcohol on the left of the color it bleeds to the right.


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