For years I’ve been recommending fabric markers and paints as an option for people who don’t want to applique small eyes, but I’ve never recommended a particular brand.
On a recent trip to Joann’s I grabbed one of every black fabric marker and paint they carried. Then I brought them home and tested them out on some dinosaur quilt blocks.
First, let’s talk about the markers. That’s definitely the easiest option for eyes.
Of all the brands I tested, I liked this Tulip fine-tip marker the best.
It has a bullet tip, which is nice. I used the fine tip to outline the eye, and then filled in the center using the broader side of the tip. It took two coats (I let it dry between coats) to get the really opaque coverage I wanted – but that wasn’t a problem. Here’s a close-up of the finished eye.
Nice tip. No bleeding. Good coverage.
Now – what if you want to get a little fancy with a 3D eye?
About a year ago I got an email from a customer telling me she had done her eyes using fabric paint, and I’ve been wanting to test that out ever since. I think she had used a puff paint, but I wanted to try the shiny finish, thinking that would add a nice spark of life to the eyes.
I tested out several brands and this one from Scribbles was my favorite.
The black was truly black, not just dark grey. It had a nice shine on it after it dried, and the bottle has a VERY fine tip which made it easier to control. It does take a little skill to use these squeeze bottles – I recommend practicing on some paper before you try it on your almost-finished blocks.
Here’s a close-up of a finished eye.
A couple of things to note. . .
This finishes to a nice smooth dome – but be aware that the dome is a lot taller when the paint is wet. It will compact down as it dries.
I tried – and was unable – to pick off the eye after it was dry. Just a little testing for kids who like to pick at textures like this. 🙂
You won’t be able to iron over the applique after you apply the paint – your iron will melt it. So you need to fuse down all the applique pieces, then outline stitch, then paint the eyes. You could possibly paint the eyes before outlining, but some of the edges of the dinosaur heads are pretty close to the eyes and I was afraid the rubbery eyes would grab at my presser foot and keep things from flowing smoothly.
Yes – it’s more than a little nerve-wracking to add paint to an otherwise finished block. I wasn’t joking about practicing on paper first. It took me a few eyes to get a feel for how it squeezes out of the bottle.
So there you go – my favorite fabric markers and paints perfect for small eyes if you don’t want to do tiny applique. 🙂
There’s a round-up of all my different ways to do the eyes here.
And you can find that dinosaur quilt pattern here. 🙂
Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – a very basic intro
- How Durable is Applique with Fusible Adhesive?
- Fusible Applique the Easy Way – the way I currently work – use with any of my patterns that include SVG files
- How to Use a Light Box to Layer Your Applique – perfect placement every time
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – photo tutorial – use with any of my patterns that do not include SVG files
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – video tutorial – use with any of my patterns that do not include SVG files
Here are links to special posts about eyes.
- Easy Eye Options for Applique
- Using Fabric Markers and Paints for Small Eyes
- Free Embroidery Machine Files for Machine-Stitched Eyes
- How to Machine Stitch Eyes without an Embroidery Machine
- How to Minimize Show-Through on White Eyes
- How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces
- How to Add Catchlights to Eyes
Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.
- How to Add a Baby Animal to Any Block
- How to Add Playful 3D Bits to Your Applique
- How to Add Soft 3D Pieces to your Quilt Block
- How to Add a Door (that Opens!) to Your Quilt Block
- How to Give Your Monster an Underbite
- Fake Trapunto (Stuffed) Applique
- Broderie Perse Applique
Other Applique Methods
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Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.
Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.