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)
Water Soluble Marker (Fine tip)
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!