Clover Water Soluble Pencils – A Product Review

A quest to find the perfect marking tool has long plagued my projects. A quilt-losing disaster with a Sharpie near the beginning of my quilting experience nearly had me selling my sewing machine for good. Thankfully, I’ve rebounded and have since tried the lot: metallic permanent markers, ball point pens, chalk, chalk pencils. My latest venture had me into the Clover water soluble pencils.


The Clover water soluble pencils cost ~$7.50 for a set of three, with one of each pale pink, light blue, and white. This was a steep price point for me, but I was willing to pay to try them for one specific application. I quilt on a small domestic machine, and I’ve been researching ways I could become more confident with free motion quilting and have my quilting be more flawless. I wanted to use them to draw out my quilting lines to test if that could improve my quilting. As a secondary use, I wanted to use them for drawing out diagonal seams and pattern tracing. But first, I needed to test if they worked.


Testing the water solubility

Before I jumped in and marked up a finished quilt top, I decided to first give the Clover water soluble pencils a test on light and dark fabrics (these were Confetti Solids) to see how well the pencils marked and disappeared.


Here are what the marks looked like freshly draw:

Clover water soluble pencils - light fabric
Clover water soluble pencils - dark fabric

And here they are after getting wet:

Clover water soluble pencils - light fabric post water
Clover water soluble pencils - dark fabric post water


As you can see, the colors marked extremely well on the black fabric and were decent on the white, and all of the colors washed out well. The pink was a little more trouble washing out of the white, but it did completely wash out in the end.


Planning out quilting lines

The first big test for the Clover water soluble pencils was quilting my Baby Contrails quilt. I had a vision of what I wanted the quilting to be: the airplanes cutting through the still air. While this meant straight line quilting, I don’t have a sewing foot that would help me line up my rows of stitches to be an inch apart. As there wasn’t a lot of piecing to guide my straight line quilting on the right half of my quilt, so I thought I could use the pencils to help guide me.


Clover water soluble pencils - drawing lines on to the quilt top

While the blue stood out more against the white fabric, I decided to use the pink pencil. Pink was a little less vibrant against the white, and I was still a little worried about how well it would all wash out if the marks spend a longer time in the fabric. Above, you can see that I used my cutting rulers to help draw out the lines I wanted to quilt.

Clover Water Soluble Pencil - Getting Sewn

The lines did fate a bit with time. Was it the moisture from the room or from my hands touching the quilt? Or because I didn’t draw them hard enough? I ended up working in sections, drawing some, quilting some.

Clover Water Soluble Pencil - After being sewn

Here is a close up of the the pens with the quilting over them.

Clover Water Soluble Pencil - Final Product

And finally the final product. I think it turned out really well! It ended up washing out perfectly. I would love to try it with a free motion quilting design. I think it would work well!

Drawing diagonal seams

Normally, when I would draw the guidelines for my diagonal seams I would use a ballpoint pen. There was something magical about that ink. It would show up on any color and would normally wash out of my fabric. Even if I wasn’t washing my quilt (an art piece), I never saw the ink. It may seem perfect, but there was one drawback. If you drew the line wrong, you have to throw out the piece and cut a new one because you could see the guideline or the imprint of the guideline from the good side of the fabric. This wasn’t a common occurrence, but when I quilting well into the wee hours of the morning, it was so demoralizing. When I bought the Clover water soluble pencils for marking my quilting lines, I thought I’d try them on the diagonals, too.


The pencils worked well for drawing the diagonal seam guidelines. You have to be a bit more careful about how much pressure you use, and the line is quite a bit thicker so your seam will be less precise. However, you can’t see the line from the good side of the fabric.


The downsides

The Clover water soluble pencils worked as advertised. I’m completely happy with that. But there are drawbacks. First, they dull quickly. It’s hard to get very sharp lines. If you needed a thin line to sew precisely, this isn’t the tool for that.


Then, because they dull do quickly, you have to sharpen the pencils all the time. Just look at how much of the pink I used compared to the others.

I also had some trouble with the tips breaking off, eating through the pencil even quicker!

Clover Water Soluble Pencil - Use
I went through over half a pencil to draw out quilting lines spaced 1″ apart on a 42″ x 42″ quilt! I’d have to buy several packs for a lap quilt, and even more for a queen-sized!

Will I buy the Clover water soluble pencils again?

If I need a product to help me plan out intricate quilting lines on the quilt top, I would buy this product again. But at $2.50/pencil, it’s really hard to justify the cost, especially if there are other options that work just as well. I think I may need to try these pencils with some intricate free motion designs and report back. Stay tuned!

Sew on!

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