The Great Signature Pen Debate – the final decision

After many weeks and many washings, I finally chose the pen that I felt would be the best for Kylee’s wedding quilt. Remember this picture from my previous post?

Signatures-parchmentWell, here’s those same signatures, sewn together and washed 15 times.

signatures-on-fabricYes, I said 15 times. In cold water, hot water, with fabric softener and without, on about every setting on my washer and dryer, and in 4 different kinds of detergent. Like I said, you never really know how a quilt will be washed once it’s out of your hands! I was a little annoyed that I didn’t sew the samples together in order and right-side up, but it actually worked better for me. With the signatures all jumbled up I looked at the ink, and not at what was written. As an FYI, I also heat-set all of the signatures with a hot iron for at least 15-30 seconds before I threw them in the washer.

These were the pens I used:


The Sharpie Fine was the first to go, after the first wash. Why is it that Sharpies never come out of my clothes, but disappear after the first wash on scrap fabric?

The Sharpie Medium and PrismaColor Premiere pens stayed black, but ran. Gone.

The Microns turned a sort of purple-black and faded quite a bit after all the washings.

The clear winner:

Nano-pensThe Nano-Liner by Royal Langnickel was da bomb in my experiment. It stayed black, my testees said it was a smooth pen on the fabric, and did not fade. And, surprisingly, it was the least expensive of all the pens, at $1.98/pen at Hobby Lobby!

I bought 5 pens in nib sizes 5 and 7. I thought the size 4 nib was a bit “thin”, and wouldn’t be seen at a distance as well as thicker nibs. I failed to get a picture of the signing table (hey! I was too busy decorating the reception halls and tables!), but here’s a pic of the sign I made:

SignI had to laugh when I asked Kylee to add their signatures to the sign. I figured more people would be apt to sign them if it had their John Hancock on the sign. I left plenty of room for a large signature, and what does she do? Well, you could probably fit that signature on a check. ROFL!

So, after a wedding in Florida, a reception in Ohio and chasing people down at both to make sure everyone signed a block, I’ve got about 120 blocks ready to go.

Signed-blocksI think I may add a few nice “marriage” sayings to some of the leftover blocks as fillers. The next couple of weeks will be filled with pulling off the blue painter’s tape (which held up very nicely over 3 weeks, a plane ride and tumbling around in a trunk!), trimming up the blocks and deciding how I want to lay them out!

As a disclaimer, these pens worked for me in my experiment. I hope this information helps in YOUR search and experimentation for signature pens!

Cindi 100

45 thoughts on “The Great Signature Pen Debate – the final decision

  1. Thank you for posting your results. I don’t that I have heard of this pen before but sure will be looking for it at our Hobby Lobby. Once again thanks for the follow up.

  2. Deaar Cindi,

    Thanks for the great tip about writing pens for fabric. Saves us a lot of work and money. Would love to see the finished quilt. Am anxious to see how you lay it out.

      • Hi Cindi,

        Thank you so much for your tips… It’s a big help for me❣
        I am now preparing some 200-250 pcs of “siggy blocks” which I started this July for my daughter’s wedding in March next year. I even requested my brother-in-law to get some fabric pens for me in the US. Although, we have some Sharpie and Pilot brands here in my country (I’m from the Philippines 🇵🇭 btw), it’s a little expensive compared from the prices in the US and since they’re coming home to attend next year, he already bought me some Sharpie brand fabric pens, which he said he also uses it to mark his kids clothing and it never bleed nor fade on the fabric 😕 Huhuhu….

        But now that I have read your post, 🤔🤔🤔 I’m thinking if it’s not a bother for him to buy me again a new set of fabric pens like these ones you posted 😆😊 and yes, please post some photos of the quilt when it’s done❣
        I’m so excited too for my daughter’s wedding and I haven’t told her I’m making this for her since I want it to be a surprise for her and her fiancé. I also did some brush lettering for the instructions so their guests would know where to sign or write messages on each block.

        L❤️VE your post📍😉

        Monette 🌸

  3. Thank you! I did a similar test some years ago for the label of a baby quilt. So long ago, that I’d forgotten the results. I’m going to use you suggestion from this day forward.

      • Hello again, I have tested and used the pen, also
        find that it flows over material better than other pens.

        On another note, I had lots of black material and some wild stuff that I really did not like! Then, along came your post, “Neon”…. Bingo, the fun of quilting, something ugly turns into something wonderful. Thanks!

    • No, I didn’t try markers. I used what I had available at home, and wanted something with a nib that would be strong enough to hold up to many signatures.

  4. I’m going to do a wedding quilt for my sister in law this summer. Thank you so much for this very thorough post and for sharing your results. I’d read several places that lots of people liked the micron pens for this purpose, so I was excited to see your experiment!!

  5. Could you share the dimensions of your blocks – the white outter block, as well as the colors and the white strips? I love your ideas!

    • Easy peasy, Lora! It’s a 5.5″ block (5″ finished). I just divided it into three equal pieces both ways, then drew the triangles from corner to corner on all 4 sides! I actually drew mine up in EQ. If you’re doing it yourself and don’t want to deal with the weird calculations for a 5″ finished block, you may want to draw out a 6″ square. Divide it into three 2″ sections both ways, then connect your triangles from corner to corner. It’ll be 5.5″ finished!

      • Since there are two seams for the three strip block, it actually will be 5 inches finished (and then it will be 4 1/2 inches when sewn into rows). This is if you do 3 two inch strips….

        BTW, I absolutely love your quilt and am attempting to make it for my son and his fiancée. But it took me almost an hour to do 3 blocks (I’ve got more strips cut). It’s my first attempt at snowballs…am still not sure what size corner squares to cut as I’ve made the first sets too big!

        Do you sell this design? (Instructions?)

        Also, what is “EQ”?

        • I was never good at math, Debbie! Thanks for the correction. Sorry I can’t help you with your corner squares – I paper-pieced my blocks, so it was drawn out for me. I don’t sell my designs, but you can Google “paper-pieced snowball blocks” and you’ll find plenty of tunes for them! EQ is Electric Quilt, a quilt drawing program. You can see it at Good luck with your quilt! Would love to see it when you’ve finished.

  6. My Hobby Lobby has a set of four, 1, 2,3,4. I think they have stopped selling individual pens. I was able to purchase a few #5’s the end of August. I will have to guard the pens at my grandaughter’s wedding in October. I really like the Nano-liner.
    PS: my friend in Florida found a few in clearance section of Hobby Lobby.

  7. Thanks for these posts. By far the best information I’ve been able to find. Our Hobby Lobby doesn’t sell Nano’s in anything but a multi pack, with multiple tip sizes, the largest of which is the #5. I’ve checked Royal’s website, and want to as you, to help me be sure, that this is what you used. The fine print under the name of the marker is a bit different, but I believe in the image on the website, I can still make out “permanent” in that line.

    Any help is appreciated! BEAUTIFUL quilt!

  8. Thank you for doing this experiment and sharing your results! I’ve been looking for the “best” pen to use for my wedding quilt. Everything says they’re the best but no articles that I found actually did a test! Thank you again! 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting us, Stephanie! There is no way I was going to put pen to fabric without testing it first – there was too much time and energy spent on this quilt to take any chances. Please, do your own test strips – and have lots of people sign them. It’s amazing the different pressures that people use, and how it affected the results!

  9. Hobby Lobby and many places have quit caring the Nano Liners. Looking on Amazon at the reviews you can see why. Most of the reviewers were using the pens to draw on paper. Many people had problems with the brand new pens being dried up. Others had problems with them bleeding. So if anyone is looking for them, you will need to find them online. I’m still debating on what I will use on a signature quilt.

  10. I was determined to find the Nano Liners from Royal Langnickel for my daughters signature wedding quilt. I had all but lost hope that I could order them online and receive them in time. So, I called Royal Langnickel and their customer service representatives were outstanding. These pens are available directly from the Royal Langnickel website and their customer service is absolutely the best.

  11. Do you think the painters tape could be left on for an extended amount of time, say 8 months? My daughter wants plain 6″ squares for signatures, nothing pieced, so it would be on all 4 sides. Also wondering if I should iron freezer paper on back for stability. Any thoughts anyone???

    • The painter’s tape need only be left on long enough to get the signatures. You can take it off after the signatures are done. If you paper piece the blocks, as I did, then just leave the paper on until after they are signed.

      • Thanks for responding. I’m not paper piecing, just a plain 6″ block to write on. Well, 190 blocks to be exact! Maybe I wouldn’t need to use the painters tape if I am using the freezer paper. My main concern is that I am going away right after her wedding and won’t be able to do anything more with the blocks for about 6 months. Just wondering about freezer paper and/or painters tape being adhered to fabric that long??

      • I did order the nano pens from the company in a size 5 nib, so thanks for doing the research. I will do a sample on my fabrics as well, but with only that brand as I don’t have any other pens. If they don’t fade, this will be my pen of choice. Such a great idea.

    • I’m going to iron freezer paper to the back because I’m not paper piecing and because it needs some stability so they can sign it better. I always use freezer paper anytime I have to write on cloth, like for a label that I’m making, or a signature block. Works much better.

      • Yes, my blocks are not pieced either. More like a large label. Do you think the freezer paper could be left on for an extended period of time? I won’t be able to get to doing anything with the blocks for 6 months. Thanks for the help!

        • I’m not an authority, but I don’t think leaving freezer paper on would be a problem. I wouldn’t leave tape on the front of the material, but I don’t think leaving freezer paper on the back should be a problem.

  12. Found the site for the manufacturer of these pens at The prices are about $2.79 per pkg of 2 pens. Glad I came across your post copied to Pinterest. Hope this helps everyone find the pens if their Hobby Lobby is no longer carrying them. I saw some on my Google search where people were pricing single pens at $27.99 and up. LOL, it’s amazing what people think a person will pay without bothering to do more research. SMH. 😤

  13. Did anyone have a “holder” of some type to hold the material in place when people signed each square? I’m afraid people who don’t work with material may find it hard to write in. Thank you for all these wonderful ideas!

    • Hi Shirl, I didn’t use any type of holder, as I paper-pieced my blocks and they were stable. I’ve heard of others using fine grit sand paper as holders, though….

      • Cindi,

        I pressed freezer paper the size I wanted the writing to the back of each square. This gave them the margins to stay within and stabilized the cloth. Also, I printed a draft with lines the size of the freezer paper square, so they could practice and/or trace.

      • I ironed freezer paper to the back of each block. That’s what I always do when I want to write on material. It’s not the same as writing on paper, but it helps stabilize it some. I also had a larger piece of material with freezer paper on the back on which they could “test” it before signing a real block, which hardly anyone used! And I also made a 1/2″ frame to place over each block so they wouldn’t write into the seam line. I had made about 4 frames & had 4 pencils so there wouldn’t be a backup in signing, probably overkill, but oh well. Lastly, I had an “example” block, with the frame attached/taped to it, and wrote on the block. I tried to cover all my bases so people would hopefully understand what we wanted. Hope this helps you with your project.

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