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How to Prevent Sharpie Bleed on Fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

Using the right method, Sharpie designs on fabric will last for years to come. Drawing on shirts, book bags and other fabric items with colourful markers personalises and decorates them. Sharpies, with their fine tip, wide top and variety of colours, is often the choice of designers. Washing the item after decorating may cause colour bleed. There are ways to prevent this from happening.

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  1. Wash the fabric to be decorated prior to designing. Prior washing will prevent shrinkage and bleeding of the fabric's dye after application of the markers.

  2. Allow the Sharpie ink to dry completely on the fabric. After drawing, give the marker ample time to dry. Waiting 24 hours will ensure the marker is dry.

  3. Iron over the design. Place a piece of drawing paper over the design and turn the fabric over. Iron on medium over the backside of the design. Allow to cool.

  4. Paint over the design with opaque fabric paint. The clear paint will seal in the marker. Cover the entire area or paint only on the marker lines. Allow to dry 24 hours and wait at least 48 hours before washing.

  5. Tip

    If layering colours on the fabric, allow each colour to dry before applying another.


    Certain fabrics will bleed out their dye for several washes. When this occurs, some of the marker will bleed out. For loose dye fabrics, wash several times before designing.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sharpies
  • Paper
  • Iron
  • Opaque fabric paint

About the Author

Sidney Johns began her writing career in 1993 after moving to Florida. The former teacher and surgical technician worked in the home improvement industry prior to earning a Bachelor of Science in education from Indiana University. While on hiatus in 2004, Johns studied holistic healing and organic growth and gardening.

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