Posted on 2 Comments

Pencils on Fabric

Pencil painting on fabric

If you’re like me and love to work in sketchbooks¬† you’ll come up with loads of lovely pages that you’d also like to see in fabric and thread. If something looks good on paper it will almost certainly look good on cloth. It might involve a change of medium and probably of scale but the same visual effect will be achievable. The great thing is though, that if you’ve enjoyed using watersoluble pencils in your sketchbook you can work in exactly the same way on smooth fabric. I’ve drawn a lily from my garden here. You know how much I always find inspiration from nature! I’ve used Derwent Inktense pencils which are permanent once water has been added and then they’ve been allowed to dry. Other watersoluble pencils can be used to colour fabrics but if you are intending to launder the item in the future the colour will probably wash away!¬† I have no particular connection with Derwent but I just like their pencils! Check out their website if you want more specific information. You can use a textile medium instead of, or as well as water, but I haven’t found it necessary. Sample both and see what you prefer. The medium might help prevent ‘creep’ of colour but that doesn’t bother me as I like a painterly watercolour effect.


I’ve only used a few pencils for this painting – fuschia, light olive, shiraz and tangerine. I’ve found by trial and error that it’s most effective to draw onto damp fabric rather than dry and to overlay two colours. Once the initial drawing is done I then add more water with a paintbrush and ‘tickle’ the colour around to soften and blend it. Because I like a watercolour look I’m generous with the water to encourage the colour to bleed. Of course quilting transforms the whole thing. I’ve free motion quilted quite closely, following the contours of the petals and leaves and then stitched the background with columns of pale stitch. I like the contrast this creates against the flower and of course, it adds texture and controls all the baggy, pale fabric. Once the quilting is finished I enjoy adding more detail with the pencils. A nice sharp point means I can target small areas such as the stamens. I used that shocking tangerine onto wet fabric for that punch of colour. Lilies have such pronounced stamens don’t they? I believe they are toxic to pets but I often snip them off before they drop and stain everything around them. I had quite a few emails asking for more about Inktense pencils so I hope this post has been of interest – don’t forget we’ve got lots of videos about them on designmatterstv!

Thanks for visiting my website today – I love to hear from you if you have questions or comments – Linda x

2 thoughts on “Pencils on Fabric

  1. Another lovely use of Inktense pencils. I am currently experimenting with Inktense and you continue to inspire me so thank you

    1. I’m happy to hear the posts are helpful Chris – many thanks for taking the time to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *