Product Review: KARISMA Washable Fabric Pencil

Among the goodies I picked up at the Houston International Quilt Market this year was a selection of KARISMA pencils. I’ve been a fan of mechanical pencils since the mid-1980s when my friend and artist Kristine Schramer introduced me to them. The ease with which I could draw a fine line and erase any mistakes made drawing so much more enjoyable, and now that I can relive that experience with a pencil on fabric makes me very happy.


The leads (not actually lead, of course) are a size 0.9mm, which is quite fine but not as fine as regular mechanical pencil leads typically go. I was accustomed to using a 0.5mm for many years, but the thicker lead is preferable for fabric as it is less likely to break.

I’ve been using the pencil for marking sashiko projects for the past month, and it’s really changed how I design and execute projects. I like to sew on the go and my sewing bag usually has a sashiko project, book or two for design reference, and a small case with needles, pins, thimbles, and thread. As the pencil lead is retractable I can carry the pencil in my purse and not worry that it will leave smudges on everything, like my old marking (non-washable) pencil did. Now instead of doing all my lines freehand (which comes out looking sloppy) I can use a straight edge and make beautifully fine lines and even curves using a compass or tracing around another object.

If you’d like to give the KARISMA pencil a try, I’m offering it in two colors in my shop right now, blue or white. I’ll add other colors over time, and will introduce other handy Japanese sewing tools throughout the week.