removing pencil from fabric
October 24, 2010 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Fairly urgent stain-removal filter. How do I get pencils marks off embroidery?

Help! stupidly, I drew the lettering for a piece of embroidery I'm doing for a "commission" for a friend in pencil on the unbleached canvas, then decided as I was sewing to use slightly different shapes so I now have pencil lines really close to my stitches in many places.
I assumed they would magically come off with a normal pencil eraser but of course they haven't - (how) can I get rid of them without rubbing too hard, damaging the stitching or bleaching the slightly cream canvas? No shops are open nearby, I have chorine bleach, borax, bicarb, cream of tartar, salt, lemon, vodka, gin, carpet stain remover, non-turps brush cleaner, nail polish remover, washing powder, WD40, toothpaste, white blutac, and a desperate need to save this by this evening!

(the stones arent attached yet)

posted by runincircles to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Gently try a different eraser -- the solid pink eraser bricks work better than the one on the back of a pencil; if not that, try the grey or white types of eraser. (I don't know what they're all called.) High quality erasers are less likely to smear the graphite around. You may need to erase a bit, then "erase off" the graphite on the eraser onto a piece of paper, then erase the stitching again when the eraser's clean.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:59 AM on October 24, 2010

Don't panic yet; proceed slowly and logically. Use some spare canvas to set up some experiments. First try whatever method(s) seem most promising against some marks you've made using, preferably, the same pencil. Then embroider a few lines on your test canvas using the same floss and reapply the successful cleaning agents to make sure they don't adversely cause that color to run or bleach.

I would try a mild dish detergent or clear Windex, applied with a q-tip. Good luck!
posted by carmicha at 8:00 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it was a normal #2 style pencil, blast it with canned air/duster stuff.

If it was anything more arty or waxy, set up the experiments on the scrap.
posted by gjc at 8:39 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

put something under the canvas area you want to erase. the canvas should have flat support so your rub has pressure on the surface. Choose a white vinyl eraser. Chop it to a wedge shape. Rub the area in one direction. Two or three sessions is better than one. Take a stencil brush and scrub off the residue.

Faint pencil marks will be much less evident than wetting the area. If you get into that territory, the dye from the threads is likely to bleed, the threads will stretch, and it won't be fun.
posted by effluvia at 9:01 AM on October 24, 2010

My grandma was an embroidery goddess and used seltzer water or 7-Up to remove pencil marks. Good luck!
posted by shortyJBot at 11:39 AM on October 24, 2010

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