Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Machine Quilting 101: marking your quilt


Welcome to another installment in the machine quilting 101 series! Slowly but surely I will get to all of the quilting topics. This series has taken me much longer than I had originally anticipated, but that seems to be the way it is--with almost everything! All that to say...today we will be talking about marking your quilt!
 
Here are a few tools for marking that I've used again and again. I would recommend all of them! 3 out of 4 of them are made by Clover...I guess they know what they are doing!
From top to bottom:
Chaco Liner (pen-style)
Hera Marker
Water Soluble Marker (Fine tip)
Painter's Tape

A few things to mention right off the bat:

1. Before committing to any marking tool, test it on scrap fabric (or a scrap quilt sandwich). Do this before you mark your project, preferably using the same materials as your project, because the marking tools could act differently on different materials. It's better to be safe than sorry!

2. I always mark my projects after they are basted. Often times that means removing pins in certain areas before marking. I don't know if that's normal or not, but it's what I've always done. Also, I mark only a few lines at a time...sometimes only one line at a time. It's a lot of starting and stopping, but it seems to work the best for me. It prevents quilting fatigue, if nothing else! :)

Now, a quick overview of the tools:
The chaco liner is the newest marking tool that I have tried. It's nifty! Basically there is a tube of powdered chalk that you roll on with the built in marking wheel. It makes a little clicking sound as you mark, which is oddly satisfying. I have only used this tool a bit, but so far, so good! I was concerned that the chalk may not come out, but it seemed to pounce out when I sewed. Perfect! I did notice that chalk wears off fairly quickly, but not before I needed it to. For a small project like this pillow cover, it was just fine. I would recommend washing the project after it's finished to make sure all the chalk residue comes out.

The chalk comes in blue, white, yellow and pink. I had the hardest time deciding which color to purchase, but I ended up with blue. I could see adding more of the colors to my collection of marking tools over time. It was $9.50 and replacement cartridges are available.

The hera marker is another great tool! I've used this one quite a bit and I love it. All you need to do is run the hera marker along a straight edge and it creases/scores the fabric. I love this option because no chalk or ink goes onto your fabric. It's very temporary, but it holds up long enough to quilt the line(s) you need to quilt. I've found that this works better on darker fabrics than on white fabric. White reflects light so it's harder to see the marked lines. Again, I will say that I only mark one or two lines at a time, then I quilt those few lines. I repeat the process as many times as necessary.

I think I paid $6.95 for the hera marker at my local quilt shop a few years ago. It was money well spent! There are two kinds of hera markers: the larger one I've shown here and the slim. I've tried both and I'd definitely recommend the larger one.

The fine tip water soluble marker was the first marking tool I purchased that I actually liked. I've only bought two of them so far, because they last for years! I love the fine tip and it's been a very rare occasion that the ink didn't come out of the fabric. I was about to say that I never mark when I am free motion quilting, but when I am spiral quilting, I almost always mark the center (and I use my free motion foot for that part). Once the area is quilted, I spritz it lightly with a water bottle and just like magic, the ink disappears.

I have a hard time finding this particular marker in any stores that I shop at in real life, so I order them on-line from Connecting Threads. (They happen to be on sale at the moment for only $3.00, usually $5.00.) Like I said, they last for years, so it's a good deal, sale or not!

Painter's tape is another great option for marking, which I've covered in my grid quilting tutorial. This method of marking is perfect for small projects, especially placemats. I suppose you could use this method up to baby quilt size without a problem, but anything larger than that gets cumbersome! I haven't bought painter's tape in quite a while, but it is a reasonably priced option as well.

To mark or not to mark, that is the question!
If you would have asked me a few years ago how many quilts I mark, I would say very few. I've noticed that I am starting to mark more than I did in the past. I also do more straight line quilting than I used to, so that would be part of it. On the quilt shown above, it looks like I could have just followed the lines of the pattern, no marking required. However, some of the logs were uneven, and that made me stray in awkward places. I ended up ripping out those stitches and I went back and marked the lines using a combination of the hera marker and the fine tip blue marker. It took extra time, but I was much happier with the results. In the end, I think that is the key...a good finished product!

I think that's all I have for today! I'd love to hear your thoughts on marking quilts. If you have a favorite marking tool that you absolutely can't live without, please tell me about it!

30 comments:

Jenny said...

I use a The Fine Line Air Soluble pen. I think Dritz bought them a few years back. It disappears automatically or you can wet it. I've only ever had to wet it once, and that was because I was doing a spirograph technique and I had marked the area many times in a short period. I have never not had this pen come out. Never. You've sent me a few things. If you want to give me your addy, I'll send you one to try. I pick them up when JoAnn has 70% off.

abelian said...

Be careful with the colored chalk markers. I once began marking a quilt with a pink powdered chalk-wheel marker (not the Chacoliner brand), and discovered that it left faint pink stains. Luckily I hadn't done much marking before I noticed it. The white chalk, without any dye, is safer.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

when I machine quilt I only do straight lines - something about the all over swirly stuff just doesn't attract me. I use the blue pen or chalk to mark mine and order from Connecting Threads too - just no stores around my neck of the woods to get quilting supplies at.

Barb said...

great post and great information!

Granny Maud's Girl said...

I have all four tools you mention. I really love the chalk, perhaps because I started sewing with dressmakers' chalk all those years ago.

Mary Ellen said...

Great post. Good info. Question:you mentioned that the blue pens last a long time. I really like them but have found the opposite to be true. Whenever I need to use it, the doggone thing is dry or only marks a little before petering out. I am going to order the ones you suggest from Connecting Threads. Maybe it's the brand I am using.

Debbie said...

I use the same pin. Just curious, your sewing machine...do you like it? I am told its one of the best for piecing and free motion. I am considering getting one.

Terri said...

Great tips! I love the chalk marker in white and blue with the wheel and the hera marker too. I never have luck with the fabric markers because they tend to dry out before I' get around to using them (i.e. user error!). On projects where I get lazy, I always wish later that I had marked some guides for myself!

Sara A. said...

I've found that Crayola washable markers work just as well as the craft store markers and it's 8 in a box for $3.00. I use and lose mine all the time. I use them to mark for embroidery, quilting, and clothing projects and have never had a problem removing the ink, even after pressing.

Helen said...

I use the Clover Chacoliner in pink and white. I don't like the excess chalk that puffs up as you sew over it. It still has it's uses however especially for long straight lines. My all time favourite marker is the Sew Line Duo. I number all my rows when piecing quilts and it doesn't matter how many times you iron over it, it still comes away with the eraser or with water in the wash. I recommend it to every quilter I know.

Maggie Norman said...

I love using Frixion pens to mark everything from small projects to a queen sized quilt! The ink goes on smooth because it's a real pen, the marks last for as long as I need to quilt, then I simply iron the quilt and the heat from the iron makes the ink disappear! Sometimes, on darker fabric, the ink does leave a faint line, bit after a good wash, the lines completely fade out. :)

Wilma NC said...

I love the blue markers too. Nice informative post.

amandajean said...

Debbie,

YES! I love my JUKI! I would highly recommend it. I wrote a whole blog post about both of the machines I use here:

http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com/2013/04/sewing-machine-rundown.html

I hope that helps!

AJ

Adrienne said...

I'd like to try that chaco liner, haven't seen one of those. I have one of the blue pens and it seems like it's running out of ink the second i use it... will have to look and see if mine is Clover or a knock off brand. I have a purple one made by Dritz that works better. But it is disappearing ink so you better start quilting after a couple of lines or you'll have to redo it! Normally this is fine with me but sometimes I'd like to mark a little bigger area, or I get interrupted before I can get the quilting done, and then it's gone.

Katherine said...

I have the chaco liner in yellow, and I have had trouble getting it to wash out. I used it to mark a baby quilt with a grey background a few years ago and I ended up having to gift the quilt with yellow stains in it. I felt really bad. Now I use a hera marker for quilts and save the yellow chaco liner for garments, where the markings and almost always on the reverse side and inside the seam allowance, so there's no risk of a yellow stain showing anywhere.

Greta Anderson said...

super timely info for me.. Thank you!!

Sarah Jardine said...

Thanks for this tutorial. Love the quilted feathers!!

hoptownracer1 said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I had never heard of a hera marker, so I will have to look for one of those! Sounds like it would be the safest to use! Thank you; stll have so much to learn! :)

Karen said...

Thanks again for teaching me how to make quilts! The idea of quilting seems very overwhelming, but now I have the info I need to try it (as a beginner who's never done a quilt top before). And I adore the purple/eggplant with the feathers--what a great color combo!

margaret said...

I have the hera marker and am happy with it though sometimes even after a wash there is a dip in the fabric where it was used. The chaco liner sounds interesting will keep my eye open for one of those

MissesStitches said...

Yes, I love the sound the little chalk marker makes! Such a cute little sound!

Random Thoughts Tracy said...

I really like my Friction pen. It often leaves a weird whitish mark on really dark fabrics... it irons off most light colored fabrics though. I like marking with it because it's an ink pen, great for accuracy and tiny dots that last!

Susan Paxton said...

I haven't really tried any of the items on your list. I own them all but am still trying to figure out free motion quilting. I have done straight line and stitching in the ditch but am afraid of free motion. This winter I am going to try.

Gayle Fahrion said...

I need to try the Clover pen since all the others I have used dry out quickly. Plus, the Chaco liner sounds great. I have had a Hera marker for years but have only realized what it is for since I started following quilt blogs a year and a half ago. It was a freebie with a sewing order in the 80's or 90's and I just kept it all these years in ignorance. I have only been able to use it since I got my Juki a few months ago. I couldn't see the lines with the bulky head around the needle on my old machine. Thanks for sharing!

Anne said...

I've been looking for something like the chalk pen for a while....I may have to order it online....thanks for the tip!

Neese Family said...

What size safety pins do you use? I am trying to do this more, but need to buy more pins. The big ones are awkward to use. So I wondered if you used the littler ones like the gold ones?

Elaine Randall said...

As always, very helpful explanations. I mostly do some type of straight line quilting. I've used tape many times with good results. I've also used the white lead mechanical pencils on dark fabrics with good results. I will be adding these tools to my tool box.
Thanks for sharing your expertise.

liniecat said...

Must get myself a water soluble marker, am sure one would help me learn to quilt by machine. well that a great deal of good luck!!

KerryQ said...

I'm a rookie, so I don't have a lot of anecdotal evidence, but the Chaco liners are slick! I used a white one to mark a grid on purple fabric the other day. Most of the chalk disappears immediately, but I do have white "ghost" lines left. Have you noticed that yours rolls easier in one direction more than another?

Katy McCoy said...

I've had no success with any of the chalk markers - they disappear way too fast. I guess they would work on place mats but anything larger where the fabric rubs against itself - forget it. I like the Frixion pens. And yes, I know the lines may show up in cold weather. I live in California - not a problem and so easy to use!