How to Use Fabric Markers on T-shirts? – 7 Simple Steps

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to use fabric markers on t shirts

Did you know there is another way to customize your t-shirts besides t-shirt printing? This post will teach you how to use fabric markers on t-shirts.

We will also provide tips, tricks, and answers to frequently asked questions regarding customizing t-shirts with fabric markers. You can turn this into an enjoyable DIY activity at home with your kids.

Dig in!

Step-By-Step to Use Fabric Markers on T-shirts

What to prepare?

  • Fabric markers
  • Cardboard/Freezer paper
  • Transfer pencil
  • Parchment paper
  • White carbon paper
  • Stencil
  • Stamp
  • Masking tape
  • Flat iron

Step 1: Pick out some good shirts


When using fabric markers for t-shirts, clothes made with cotton or polyester are ideal. They absorb ink better than any other fabric, which helps in preventing smudges.

Moreover, if you want the colors to pop on the t-shirt, white t-shirts are very reliable. On the other hand, black or dark-colored shirts are ideal if you want to use metallic fabric markers.

Step 2: Choose Quality Fabric Markers

First, remember that you cannot use a regular permanent marker to write on clothes. Once you wash it, the ink will bleed and create a mess on the shirt.

On the other hand, fabric markers have three types: ink–based, paint-based, and dye-based. All of these materials stay on the fabric even after numerous washing.

That is why these markers are ideal pens to write on T shirts. Furthermore, Arteza, Super Markers, and Crafts 4 ALL are some of the tried and tested fabric marker brands.

In terms of the right colors, it is up to your preference. However, a black fabric marker would stand out on white or light-colored fabrics.

Moreover, a white fabric marker, especially a metallic one, would look good on black or dark-colored fabrics.

Step 3: Prepare Your Workspace


A clean workspace is a must when you plan to write on T shirts with fabric paint pens. You wouldn’t want annoying stains to ruin your project.

Moreover, ensure the table you use has an even surface, so drawing or painting on the shirt will be smooth sailing. Place the materials you’ll need near you.

Step 4: Select or Create a Design


A well-thought design creates a lasting impact! You can start a draft of your own with your creative mind or search on the internet for fabric marker T-shirt design ideas.

To decorate a T shirt with markers, the design may be a simple illustration, doodle, calligraphy, and many more. Your imagination is the limit to

The various types of fabric marker tips also made choosing fabric marker shirt ideas more flexible. You can create thin lines with felt tips or calligraphy strokes with brush tips.

Step 5: Transfer the Design to the T-shirt


Here are the five different ways to accomplish this important step:

Method 1: Stamping

Suppose you want to put repeated patterns on your t-shirt, then consider stamping. You can also search for fabric marker ideas online.

Purchase the stamps with the patterns or text that you want to use. Use the marker to decorate colors to the stamp image and place it onto the T-shirt.

Remember that you’ll need to shade the stamp quickly so it won’t dry even before touching the fabric. Press the stamp down for 5-10 seconds before taking them off and wait for the marks to dry.

Method 2: Stenciling

A stencil is a cut-out paper, plastic, or metal sheet with holes that create a design when painted using a brush, spray paint, or sponge.

Stenciling is a practical technique if you are not confident making sharp edges or drawing freehand.

Placing the stencil on top of the t-shirt and filling the holes with fabric markers is all it takes to transfer your design.

Method 3: Tracing the Design with a Pencil

Perhaps you cannot find a stamp or stencil. Worry not because you can also place your design under the cloth to trace it with a pencil.

You should note, however, that this method only works well with white or light-colored t-shirts. It would be a hopeless case to trace a design with a black or dark-colored cloth.

  1. Lay the t-shirt flat on the table. You can tape down its edges for it to stay in place, but make sure not to stretch too much.
  2. Place a cardboard or freezer paper inside the shirt to avoid its other side from getting stained in case the fabric markers bleed.
  3. Insert the design in front of the cardboard or freezer paper.
  4. Gently trace the design with a pencil. Avoid using a very sharp pencil since it might damage the fabric.
  5. Once you have your outline, you can use your fabric markers for T-shirts!

Do not forget to be extra careful since you cannot correct a mistake with fabric markers once applied to the cloth.

Method 4: Using Parchment Paper and a Flat Iron

Follow the first two steps in the previous technique, then read the proceeding steps below.

Note that you need the design’s flipped or inverted version before tracing it on parchment paper.

  1. Place the design on a flat surface.
  2. Position the parchment paper on top of the paper.
  3. Trace the design on the parchment paper with a transfer pencil.
  4. Once you are done tracing, place the parchment paper over the t-shirt’s surface you want to draw or write on.

Make sure that the parchment paper’s side with the pencil tracing is the one touching the fabric.

  1. Iron over the parchment paper to transfer the traced design to the t-shirt.
  2. You can now use your Arteza fabric markers! Enjoy!
Method 5: Using White Carbon Paper

Are you wondering how to transfer the design to a black or dark-colored fabric if you want to do tracing?

  1. Attach a white carbon paper to the cloth with masking tape. Ensure that the whiter side is facing the t-shirt fabric.
  2. Tape the design on top of the white carbon paper.
  3. Trace the drawing or lettering with a pencil. Add the details if you suddenly feel the creative urge.
  4. Remove the design and parchment paper to see the white outline on your fabric.
  5. Since you already have guiding lines, it is time to use your Tulip fabric markers!

Step 6: Set the Design

You must be excited to wear your newly designed shirt! However, there are a few things that you should do to make sure the ink won’t bleed once you wash it.

Wait for the ink to dry thoroughly, as mentioned in Crayola fabric marker instructions.

However, you can also use a hair dryer to speed up the process or iron the back side of your masterpiece.

Step 7: Wash the T-shirt with Cold Water

Once you are sure that the fabric marker ink is dry, it is time to wash your t-shirt with cold water.

Cold water is preferable because hot water may strip some of the colors if not careful.

Air dry your t-shirt after washing, and you can finally slay with your new outfit!

Tips for Using Fabric Pen on Black T-shirts

Since tracing on a black t-shirt seems impossible, we laid out the steps above on using white carbon paper to solve this predicament.

In summary, tape a white carbon paper first on the shirt. After that, tape the design over the white carbon paper, then trace the illustration or calligraphy with a pencil.

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions


Does fabric marker washout?

If you are curious, is a fabric marker pen permanent? The answer is yes, with few exceptions.

There is a type of fabric marker for sewing which has washable ink.

Moreover, the answer is also yes, the laundry marker used for marking measurements. Also, Crayola has washable fabric pens intended for children’s use.

What marker works best on fabric?

Arteza, Super Markers, Crafts 4 ALL, Sharpie, and Crayola are famous quality fabric markers in the market. You can purchase them in nearby craft stores near you.

Can Sharpies be used as fabric markers?

The simple answer is no. You cannot write on fabric with Sharpie permanent markers.

The good news is that a particular type of Sharpies, Stained by Sharpie Fabric Markers, comes to the rescue. They are available in 8 vivid colors suitable to customize your t-shirts, pillow covers, tote bags, and many more!

How do you stop a fabric marker from bleeding?

Don’t forget to place freezer paper or cardboard between the two fabric sheets of the t-shirt.

Moreover, choosing thick fabrics and high-quality fabric markers is also suggested. Also, to avoid smudging after washing the cloth, never forget to let the ink or dye dry first.

Related articles you may also be interested in:


Customizing clothes, shoes, wallets, tote bags, and many other personal belongings will always be fun! It is liberating to just be yourself! You can also share the experience with your loved ones.

Moreover, we hope that after reading this post,you know now all the easy steps on how to use fabric markers on t-shirts. Please feel free to contact us whether you have suggestions or queries. Good luck with your endeavors, and may you continue being original!

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