What is Zentangle?
Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher

The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.


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Tangling on fabric

This post contains a videoI’ve received several emails recently inquiring about the best pens for tangling on fabric, especially in color. I haven’t explored this myself yet but many fellow Zentangle Zealots have experience using fabric gel pens and I thought I’d share some of the ones that have been recommended. These pens are also shown in the slideshow at the bottom.

In the video below, CZT Suzanne McNeill describes various pens she tested on fabric scraps that were also laundered before she began her project.

On a purchased apron of lightweight canvas Suzanne tangles using a Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric. This fabric has quite a lot of tooth and she recommends using a Pentel Gel Pen for similar fabrics.

On the Quilt block project on a softer muslin fabric, Suzanne recommends a smoother pen point like the regular Sakura Micron permanent ink pens we use for our Zentangle tiles, or a Tee Juice Marker by Jacquard.

As a special project at the CZT #7 seminar many chose to tangle a T-shirt. One of the tips from that extra evening class was to be sure to use a piece of heavy card stock between the layers of the shirt so you not only have a good support to work on, but it prevents bleedthrough to the other side of the garment. For this project, the Sakura IDentipen was used for the black ink and a Tsukineko Fabrico Dual Marker (#181 Cool Gray) for shading.

Another tip for tangling on stretchy knit fabric like tees is to iron a piece of freezer paper on the underside of the layer you’re tangling. This stabilizes the fabric and also prevents bleedthrough.

Of all the fabric projects I’ve seen, this is the one I’m most likely to do. Maria Thomas, co-founder of Zentangle, enthusiastically endorses recycling your own gently-used white sheets, or purchasing economical white or off-white sheets from stores such as Target. Rip them into dinner napkin-size squares, fray the edges a bit, then tangle your own individualized napkins for daily use. You can get quite a few from a single sheet and as Maria says, this green project will save a TON of paper napkins. Not to mention they are so much nicer to use than a paper napkin. Black and white, or color, it’s up to you.

Here’s Suzanne with her recommendations. The two books she displays are Zentangle Fabric Arts, and the Zen Quilting Workbook – see the BOOK REVIEWS tab at the top of this page for more info about them.

If you can recommend additional fabric pens or would like to share your experience with the ones mentioned, please feel free to add a comment. Enjoy!

Fabric Pens for Tangling


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4 comments to Tangling on fabric

  • Karen Wentworth

    Here in South Africa, where it is not easy to get these brands, I’ve found an Artline marker good for fabric, especially the 725. It washes well, without any bleeding or fading in the wash. Costs about R17.
    Thanks for your very informative site. 🙂

  • marcie steinberg

    wonderful lesson, my grandson and i loved it.. I would like to be on your email,, thanks marcie steinberg

  • Denise Maier

    If you want to tangle on fabric and then embroider the pattern, use a pilot frixion pen. After embroidering, iron the fabric and the ink will disappear. Be sure to use a tight embroidery hoop to keep the embroidery flat.

  • TC Ferrito

    pentel no longer makes the Fabric Gel Roller. Does anyone know of another comparable pen?

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