remove tracing marks from fabric
Embroidery tips,  Tools and materials

How to remove tracing marks from fabric

Some time ago, I wrote about Embroidery design transfer techniques and tools. Now, when we know how to transfer the embroidery pattern onto the fabric, let’s find out how to remove these tracing marks after the embroidery is done.

Note: After erasing tracing marks from fabric, always wash your embroidery in lukewarm water, dry it, and iron. You can read more about how to wash hand embroidery HERE.

Water soluble marker
Water-soluble marker

These markers are a fabulous way to trace patterns and transfer designs when embroidering. To remove tracing marks of a water-soluble marker, you can:

  1. Wash your embroidery in lukewarm water.
  2. Dab tracing marks with wet cloth or sponge. This method is convenient when you need to remove some marks to adjust the design but not erase all of the markings.

A simple pencil is one of the tracing tools everyone has at home and is widely used to transfer hand embroidery patterns. The markings pencil makes are light, so if you don’t completely cover them with stitches, you probably won’t notice them in the end. However, it’s not the easiest tracing mark to remove. In case there are still some marking visible, try these methods to remove the marks:

  1. Use the eraser. A solid block eraser (the softer, the better) will work better than the little pink eraser you will find on the tip of a pencil. Be careful not to damage the embroidery while rubbing.
  2. If the marks resist the eraser, mix 1/4 cup cool water, 3/4 cup rubbing alcohol, and 1 tbsp. of bleach-free liquid dish soap in a bowl. Dip a toothbrush into the solution and scrub the pencil mark gently until it is gone.
Pencil and Eraser 1x1 1
Friction pens and hair dryer 1x1 1
Friction pen (heat erasable pen)

These are like simple ball pens and come in many different colors. I like that the line they make is thin and clear. Also, I like how easy it is to remove tracing marks after the embroidery is done. To remove tracing marks of the friction pen, you can:

  1. Iron the embroidery (from the backside). The heat of the iron will remove all the marks outside and even under the embroidery stitches. Do not use the steam!
  2. Use a hairdryer to remove the tracing marks. This is my favorite method 🙂 Just blow hot air from the hairdryer over the embroidery (still framed in a hoop), and all the tracing marks will disappear. 
Dressmaker pen and tailor’s chalk

Dressmaker pen and tailor chalk are made from the same material – clay-based chalk. For this reason, the method of removing the tracing marks is the same for both marking tools.

  1. Use a dry soft toothbrush. Gently brush the marks until all the chalk is removed.
  2. If dry cleaning with a toothbrush is not working, dab the marks with a clean wet sponge.
  3. In case the chalk marks still persist, wash your embroidery in a mixture of white vinegar and water (2 parts white vinegar to 5 parts water).
Carbon paper for dressmaking

Carbon paper is an effortless way to transfer the pattern, but the marks are not easy to remove. If you use this pattern transfer method, be sure to use the dressmaker’s carbon paper (not a regular one made for paper).

If the marks are not covered by the stitches and are still visible after you finish your embroidery, try this to remove tracing signs:

  1. Mix baking soda with some dish soap, so it makes a paste, and then scrub easily with a toothbrush. Rinse and dry.
  2. Wash the embroidery after tracing marks are removed. 
Other tracing marks

Heat transfer pens and pencils are permanent and can not be removed. Keep that in mind when transferring the design, as you need to cover all the marks with stitches.

Iron – on transfer paper will create permanent marks too. 

Stabilizer. If you use a stabilizer for pattern transfer – read the instruction of the product first. All the producers have different methods on how their stabilizers should be removed.


If you wish to learn more about this topic, I recommend reading also these articles:

What your next embroidery project will be? If you are looking for new ideas or patterns – check out hand embroidery patterns available on my Blog and in the Etsy shop.

If you prefer video format – watch this short video to show you how to remove friction pen marks and water-soluble pen marking.

You will find more hand embroidery video lessons on my YouTube channel and the Blog in the Video Tutorials tab.

How to erase tracing marks from fabric PIN