How to Easily Use Ballpoint Embroidery Paint


When I was a little girl, one of my earliest memories was of a giant tin full of paint pens that my mom owned. It was gold with teal peacocks around the edge and it had a covered cloth on top marked from paint testing. It looked like a giant drum and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to use these paint pens with my mom.

My mom is a creative person and when money was tight these pens were an easy way for her to create cute onesies and t-shirts for her little one (me!). As time went on, my mom’s interests changed and it was not something that we ended up doing together. Instead we shared other crafty adventures like cross-stitch and needlepoint. 

Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Fabric Paint | Storypiece.net

Recently, I came across these same ballpoint paint pens at our local craft store and I knew if was time to try out a childhood dream.

How to Use Ballpoint Embroidery Paint

Supplies to DIY Your Own Liquid Embroidery Project:

Aunt Martha's Ballpoint Fabric Paint | Storypiece.net

How to Easily Use Ballpoint Embroidery Paint

Start by tracing out your design with a stencil.

Stenciled Embroidery Kitchen Towel | Storypiece.net

I worked out the design on paper first so I could see the letter placement and determine if this was the font that I wanted to use. This would be an excellent project to do if you have some skill at hand lettering. However, if you aren’t quite there yet, the stencil works well to set-up your lettering.

Once you have everything designed, find the placement center on your fabric and begin to trace in the letters from your stencil.

Hand Lettered Kitchen Towel | Storypiece.net

I used a marking pen from my sewing kit. I have serious love for this pen as you can clearly mark what you need and then the ink disappears with a bit of water. Also, I preferred to work on a flat surface and moved to the embroidery hoop once my design was inked on.

Prep for Liquid Embroidery Projects | Storypiece.net

The tin hoop should come with an absorbing cloth to place under your project. The liquid embroidery paint pens have a tendency to leak through fabric and you will want this cloth to help protect the surface you are working on.

Once your fabric is secured to the embroidery hoop, it’s time to get to the fun part.

How to Apply Liquid Embroidery | Storypiece.net

Begin on a scrap piece of fabric to get a feel for your paint pen. You want to keep the pen perpendicular to your work surface and NOT hold it like a pen. The paint comes out slowly and is easy to work with.

For nice coverage work slowly, in even strokes.

Liquid Embroidery | Storypiece.net

Once complete, clean off any marks from your sewing pen that were not covered by paint. Wait 48 hours to launder or dry-clean.

Liquid Embroidery Tutorial | Storypiece.net

This is an oil based product so avoid getting it on your clothing and work in a well ventilated area.

Hand Lettered Tea Towel | Storypiece.net

If you are a subscriber to my weekly newsletter, I mentioned that I would be using a spirograph with this project. However, I quickly discovered that the tip on these paint pens is too thick for a spirograph template. What can I say… some times the best laid blog plans don’t work out the way you think they might. I’m sure I’ll come up with another hair-brained idea to use a spirograph on in the future.

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How to Easily Use Ballpoint Embroidery Paint | Storypiece.net

Have you worked with ballpoint paint pens? Ever try Liquid Embroidery? What is your earliest craft memory?

**This post contains affiliate links. Many of the supplies listed can be found at your local craft or fabric store, but the links have been provide for your convenience in recreating this project.**




11 comments

    • Danielle says:

      Me neither! That’s why when I saw them, I knew I had to try them. I found them in the embroidery section in our local craft store… not the paint section which I thought was interesting. Looking forward to playing with them more.

  1. thesummeryumbrella says:

    Holy cow these pens are sooooo cool!! I’ve never heard of them before, but will definitely be on the look out now 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks! They were really fun to work with and I’m looking forward to dreaming up more projects to use them for. Feel free to let me know if you find them and doing something neat with them.

  2. Lisa Chapdelaine says:

    Hi Danielle
    Have you been able to find some place to buy your projects from, fabric, or stamped projects? I am having trouble finding reasonably priced items.

    • Danielle says:

      Great question! Many of the affiliate links that are in my post link to reasonably priced options, but I also recommend watching for sales or coupons at your local craft store to score some great deals. I will also be bundling my projects into kits in the next few months so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to stay updated on when that launches. You can subscribe by clicking subscribe.

      Hope that helps and thanks for reading.

  3. pamela davis says:

    I picked up a bag full of Vogart ball point paint pens at a tag sale: about 15 tubes for $5. YAY! I pulled the tip off one to make sure paints were good, They are all full tubes and in great condition. Only problem is the ball seems to be sealed or stuck on all of them. Weird in that all points are clean but they just won’t flow. I tried soaking tubes in very hot water but that didn’t work. Any hints appreciated on getting these things working. Thank you so much!!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Pamela! I apologize for the delay in answering your question. I wanted to check in with the resident expert of working with ball point paint pens (aka my mom). The pens can be a little challenging to get the paint flowing and she recommended squeezing the tube and rubbing it on scrap fabric… much like you would if you were trying to get a regular pen started. You could also try cleaning the tip with a bit of rubbing alcohol to see if that gets the ball rolling. No pun intended. 🙂

      Good luck and let me know how it goes. It sounds like you got a great deal and once they are working, you’ll have a lot of fun!

      • pamela davis says:

        Thank you Danielle.
        I am stumped. I tried denatured alcohol on the tip, I tried paint thinner. I soaked the tubes, tips down, in very hot water. I tried pushing down while rubbing across rough fabric. All to now avail. I tested one, by removing the tip, and the ink oozed out in perfect order but all but two of them just won’t produce for me and do what they are intended to do. There was one Aunt Martha’s pen in the batch and it worked fine. Hmm. That’s saying something isn’t it?
        Girlfriend, I think I’m either out of luck or perhaps I will be able to find a batch of replacement tips for the Vogart duds I have on my hands. In any event, I LOVE your tutorial! And I love your stories about you and your mom. Those enriching and memorable activities add depth and color to the unique tapestry that is each of our lives.
        Keep creating everybody!
        l…p

        • Danielle says:

          That’s a bummer. I did read (via HobbeyTex or HobbyTex) that replacement tips may be needed, but once the tip’s are replaced the tubes can last as long as 20 years.

          Thank you for your kind words and best of luck! 🙂

          • Pam Davis says:

            I’ll give it one more girl-scout try and then look for tips. I’ll update you if I make progress.
            Thank you, Danielle, for your time and attentiveness.
            l..p

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