Tracing Patterns with the Pilot Frixion Erasable Pen

My Pilot Frixion Clicker Eraseable Pens
My Pilot Frixio Eraseable Pens

I first heard about the Pilot Frixion erasable pen from milliner and period costume maker Lynn McMaster, when I took her hat finishing class in May at Lacis. (I need to write about the hats I finished in this class.) At some point during the workshop, she told me that it was an erasable pen and that if you used the ink on fabric, it washed out.

I made a note of it and then promptly forgot about it until I needed to meet a $50 minimum to get free shipping on my 8-drawer storage cart (with wheels!) $45.99 from Office Depot‘s website. I had been looking for a storage cart for my sewing stuff for a while. I wanted something with multiple drawers that cost less than $50. I searched Joann’s website as well as art supply places but their offerings were rather pricey or the drawer units didn’t seem very sturdy.

I remembered the pen that Lynn mentioned and I ordered a three-pack of the Pilot Frixion Clicker Erasable Gel Pens for $6.79 from Office Depot.

I started using the pen last week to trace Sewing Cake‘s Hummingbird skirt pattern. The pen skips a little (see the red lines below)  but it erases very cleanly as you can tell from the photo.

The "eraser" is the tip on the end of the pen.
The “eraser” is the tip on the end of the pen. I’ve erased the middle part of the black line.

I’ve pointed the “eraser” part at the line where I erased the middle of the line.

The eraser isn’t like the eraser on a pencil. I’m not sure what it’s made of but it’s hard and has a rubber feel but nothing comes off the eraser so you don’t get those messy little pieces of rubber. The “clicker” part is not the eraser on the end but the clear plastic piece that you can hook on to a notebook.

This is nothing like the erasable pens from years ago that came with a rubber eraser and didn’t erase very well.

I like how you can be very precise with a pen. I have NOT tested whether it washes out on fabric but I’ll be doing some prewashing this weekend and let you know what happens.

I am still very fond of the tactile experience of using drawing pencils (see my post “Tips on Tracing Sewing Patterns“), but you do have to sharpen them often, which can be a little annoying on occasion.

BTW – I’m very happy with my cart. The drawers don’t fall out and there are six shallow drawers (perfect for storing scissors, pattern drafting tools, pins and needles  as well as other notions) and two larger ones on the bottom for larger things.

What do you like to use when you trace a pattern? Pen or pencil?

UPDATE 7/10/13

The pen does wash out from fabric. I tried it on some cotton shirting over the weekend. I could see the pen marks fade as I ran water over the fabric. I’m sure if you use soap/detergent it’ll wash out completely.

However, it’s not such a good pen to use if you’re trying to trace a pattern on fabric; it tends to snag it. So you have to hold down the fabric to prevent it from moving as you mark it. I’m sure it’ll be fine to use for small marks like dots or darts but for longer lines, I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you’re got a hefty piece of fabric that stay put as you mark it.