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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
great post and great information!
I have all four tools you mention. I really love the chalk, perhaps because I started sewing with dressmakers' chalk all those years ago.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. :)
I love the blue markers too. Nice informative post.
YES! I love my JUKI! I would highly recommend it. I wrote a whole blog post about both of the machines I use here:
I hope that helps!
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.
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.
super timely info for me.. Thank you!!
Thanks for this tutorial. Love the quilted feathers!!
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! :)
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!
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
Yes, I love the sound the little chalk marker makes! Such a cute little sound!
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!
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.
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!
I've been looking for something like the chalk pen for a while....I may have to order it online....thanks for the tip!
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?
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.
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!!
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?
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!
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