Using Sharpie Permanent Markers On Fabric: A Complete Guide

Decorating clothing, bags, and other fabric items with creative designs using Sharpie markers is a fun DIY project. However, before getting started, you may be wondering – will permanent marker really stay permanently on fabric?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, Sharpie permanent marker ink will bind to fabric and create a lasting design if used correctly. The key is choosing the right type of Sharpie marker, preparing the fabric properly, and taking care during the application process.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using Sharpie permanent markers on fabric. You’ll learn tips for choosing the best type of Sharpie marker, steps for preparing different fabric types, techniques for applying marker directly to fabric for crisp lines and even coverage, and recommendations for setting the ink and making it last through laundering.

With the right supplies and methods, you can create custom designs on clothing, accessories, home decor items, and more with bold, vibrant Sharpie marker ink.

Choosing the Best Sharpie Marker for Fabric

If you’re looking to create vibrant designs on fabric, using Sharpie permanent markers can be a great option. However, it’s important to choose the right marker for the job to ensure long-lasting and professional-looking results.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best Sharpie marker for fabric:

Sharpie Permanent Markers vs. Sharpie Fabric Markers

When it comes to using Sharpie markers on fabric, you have two main options: Sharpie permanent markers and Sharpie fabric markers. Both are designed to work on fabric, but there are some differences to consider.

Sharpie permanent markers are versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including fabric. They offer a wide range of colors and tip sizes, making them a popular choice for fabric projects. However, it’s important to note that while Sharpie permanent markers are water-resistant, they may not be completely permanent on fabric.

They may fade or wash out over time, especially with frequent washing.

On the other hand, Sharpie fabric markers are specifically designed for use on fabric. They are formulated to be more resistant to fading and washing, ensuring your designs stay vibrant for longer. They are available in a range of colors and tip sizes, making it easy to find the perfect marker for your project.

Consider Color and Tip Size

When choosing a Sharpie marker for fabric, consider the color and tip size that will best suit your project. Sharpie markers come in a wide variety of colors, allowing you to create bold and eye-catching designs.

Whether you’re looking for basic black or a rainbow of colors, there’s a Sharpie marker to suit your needs.

Tip size is also an important factor to consider. Fine tips are great for detailed work and outlining, while larger tips are better for filling in larger areas. Consider the size and intricacy of your design to determine the best tip size for your project.

Sharpie Twin Tip Markers

If you want even more versatility in your fabric marker, consider using Sharpie twin tip markers. These markers feature both a fine tip and a chisel tip, allowing you to switch between precise lines and broader strokes.

This can be especially useful when working on fabric, as it allows you to easily vary the thickness of your lines and create different effects.

When using Sharpie markers on fabric, it’s important to remember to always test on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the marker does not bleed or fade. Additionally, it’s a good idea to set your design by ironing it or running it through the dryer for a few minutes, as this can help to make the ink more permanent.

For more information on using Sharpie markers on fabric, you can visit the official Sharpie website at

Preparing Fabric for Applying Sharpie Marker

Wash Fabric Beforehand

Before you start using Sharpie permanent markers on fabric, it is crucial to wash the fabric beforehand. This step is essential to remove any dirt, chemicals, or residues that may be present on the fabric surface.

Washing the fabric will also help to eliminate any sizing or starch that might interfere with the absorption of the marker ink.

Make sure to follow the washing instructions recommended for the specific fabric type. Use a gentle detergent and avoid using any fabric softeners, as they can create a barrier that prevents the marker ink from adhering properly to the fabric.

Use Stabilizer Backing on Stretchy/Loose Knit Fabrics

If you plan on using Sharpie markers on stretchy or loosely knit fabrics such as t-shirts or sweaters, it is advisable to use a stabilizer backing. This backing material provides support and stability to the fabric, preventing it from stretching or distorting while you apply the marker.

You can find stabilizer backings in fabric stores or online. Simply place the stabilizer backing under the fabric before you start working with the markers. This will ensure that the fabric remains flat and taut, allowing you to create precise and vibrant designs without any unwanted stretching or warping.

Work on a Flat Surface

When using Sharpie markers on fabric, it is important to work on a flat surface. This will help you maintain control and prevent the marker ink from bleeding or smudging. A flat surface provides a stable base for your fabric, allowing you to achieve clean lines and accurate designs.

If possible, use a hard, smooth surface such as a table or a countertop. Avoid working on uneven or textured surfaces, as they can interfere with the marker’s performance. Additionally, placing a piece of cardboard or a cutting mat underneath the fabric can further enhance stability and protect the surface underneath from any potential ink bleed-through.

By following these preparation steps, you can ensure that your fabric is ready to receive the Sharpie marker ink and that you achieve the best possible results in your fabric projects.

Techniques for Applying Sharpie on Fabric

Hold Marker Perpendicular to Fabric

When using a Sharpie permanent marker on fabric, it is important to hold the marker perpendicular to the fabric surface. This ensures that the ink flows smoothly and evenly onto the fabric. Holding the marker at an angle may result in uneven lines or smudging.

By maintaining a perpendicular grip, you can achieve precise and clean outlines.

Move Marker in Continuous Motions

For the best results, it is recommended to move the marker in continuous motions when applying it to fabric. Avoid stopping and starting in the middle of a line, as this can create visible marks or streaks. By maintaining a consistent motion, you can achieve smooth and even coverage.

Whether you are outlining a design or filling in sections, continuous strokes will help you achieve a professional finish.

Outlining Designs First

Before filling in sections with color, it is often helpful to outline your design first. This allows you to create a clear and defined shape to work within. By outlining your design, you can also ensure that the ink does not bleed into unwanted areas.

Take your time when outlining and use light pressure to prevent the ink from bleeding through the fabric.

Filling in Sections

Once you have outlined your design, you can begin filling in sections with color. To achieve solid and vibrant colors, it is recommended to apply multiple layers of ink. Allow each layer to dry before adding another to prevent smudging.

Experiment with different pressure and strokes to achieve the desired intensity and texture for your design.

Blending Colors

If you want to create a gradient or blend different colors on fabric, you can do so with Sharpie markers. Start by applying one color to the fabric and then immediately follow with the second color. Use a blending tool, such as a cotton swab or a soft brush, to blend the colors together while the ink is still wet.

This technique allows for smooth transitions and can create stunning effects on your fabric.

Setting the Ink to Make it Last

Once you’ve created your masterpiece using Sharpie permanent markers on fabric, it’s important to set the ink to ensure it lasts. There are a few different methods you can use to achieve this, each with its own benefits and considerations.

Heat Setting with an Iron

One popular method for setting Sharpie ink on fabric is heat setting with an iron. This involves placing a cloth or paper towel over your design and applying heat with an iron on a low to medium setting. The heat helps to bond the ink to the fabric, making it more resistant to fading or washing out.

It’s important to note that different fabrics may require different heat settings, so be sure to check the care instructions for your fabric before applying heat.

Fixative Sprays

Another option for setting Sharpie ink on fabric is to use fixative sprays. These sprays create a protective barrier over the ink, helping to prevent it from smudging or fading. To use a fixative spray, simply hold the can about 6-8 inches away from your design and spray a thin, even layer over the entire area.

Allow the spray to dry completely before handling or washing the fabric. It’s worth mentioning that fixative sprays may alter the texture or feel of the fabric slightly, so it’s a good idea to test it on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to your entire design.

Let Ink Cure Before Washing

Regardless of the method you choose to set the ink, it’s important to allow it to cure before washing. This typically involves letting the fabric sit undisturbed for at least 24-48 hours after applying the Sharpie ink.

During this time, the ink will continue to bond with the fabric, ensuring a longer-lasting result. Avoid washing the fabric before it has had a chance to fully cure, as this can cause the ink to bleed or fade.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about the best method for setting Sharpie ink on your specific fabric, it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or do a quick online search for recommendations.

Many fabric and crafting websites offer helpful tips and tricks for achieving the best results with Sharpie permanent markers on fabric.

Laundering Items After Applying Sharpie Marker

After creating your masterpiece with Sharpie permanent markers on fabric, it’s important to know how to properly launder your items to ensure the design stays intact. Here are some tips to help you maintain the vibrant colors and prevent smudging:

Wash in Cold Water

When it comes to cleaning fabric with Sharpie marker, using cold water is crucial. Hot water can cause the ink to bleed and fade, potentially ruining your design. By washing in cold water, you can help preserve the colors and prevent them from running.

Use Color-Safe Bleach if Needed

If your fabric requires bleaching to remove stains, opt for color-safe bleach. Regular bleach can strip the colors from your design, leaving it dull and faded. Color-safe bleach is designed to be gentler on fabrics and will help preserve the vibrancy of your Sharpie artwork.

Line Dry to Avoid Smearing

After washing, it’s best to line dry your fabric rather than using a dryer. The high heat of a dryer can cause the ink to smear or fade. By air drying your items, you can ensure that your Sharpie design stays crisp and vibrant.

Test One Item First

If you’re unsure how your fabric will react to washing, it’s a good idea to test one item first. Choose a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric and apply a small amount of water to see if the ink smears or fades. This way, you can avoid any potential damage to your entire design.

Remember, while Sharpie permanent markers are designed to be long-lasting, proper care is important to maintain the quality and longevity of your artwork. By following these laundering tips, you can enjoy your fabric creations for years to come.


With the right supplies and techniques, Sharpie permanent markers can be used to create colorful, custom designs on fabric that stand up to washing. Choose a Sharpie brand permanent marker in your desired colors and tip sizes. Prepare the fabric by washing and ironing beforehand.

Use light, continuous strokes and outline designs first when applying the marker directly on fabric. Heat set the ink, let it cure, and then launder carefully in cold water and line dry. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make colorful Sharpie marker creations on t-shirts, totes, pillows, and any fabric item you choose.

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