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Making My Mark

September 17, 2010

Not many comments. Hmmmm, you must all be anxiously awaiting my response (ha!ha!). I seem to be trying to own every marking tool on the market and I think I’m accomplishing just that. For this post though, I’m going to narrow my collection down to 3 favorites. But, before I name them I want to stress that you should always test your method on the fabric in your quilt before using it. Even if your favorite silver pencil has always come out….don’t count on it (do I sound like I speak from experience?)

For medium to dark value fabrics my marker of choice, hands down, is a sliver of soap. Straight from the shower (don’t let anyone slap it onto the new bar when it reaches sliver stage), it goes on easy in a nice thin line and can easily be removed by gently rubbing with a damp piece of muslin. The line lasts longer than chalk and its incredibly inexpensive. In this age of liquid soap and super sizing, my poor husband has not been allowed to bathe with anything but travel sized bars of soap since I became a quilter. They become the perfect thickness much more quickly than the regular sized bars.

For light fabrics I tend to use the blue, washout marker most often. But be careful! If the line is heated in any way it can become permanent. Also, the ink is a chemical and if you only “spritz” to remove it, it can remain and cause mischief. I’ve had the color of my fabric change permanently where the lines were drawn in 2 different quilts. Therefore I alway submerge the quilt in cool water when the quilting is done. That being said, it is easy to put on, easy to see and usually easy to remove!

My other “favorite” is a product commonly found in the kitchen called Glad Press ‘n Seal™. It’s a transparent film which can be pressed around the rim of a bowl to create a watertight seal. This is very helpful in quilting. If my design is printed, I can tear off a piece of the film, finger press it over the paper and trace the design. The film can then easily be “stuck” onto the quilt. If I need to create my own design, I can finger press the film directly onto the quilt and draw on it to perfectly fit the area needed. I usually use a fine Sharpie™ marker, but a quilter in one of my lectures said she did this on her long arm and the permanent ink wiped onto her quilt. I haven’t had this problem, but will most likely use a removable marker from now on (which I’ll test on my fabric, just in case :-). Once the design is quilted, the film can simply be torn away. I find it tears quite easily from straight, gently curved or single crossed lines. Areas with many crossed lines are a bit more of a challenge. The best part about this method is that you can see the fabric below for placement and the way it sticks to the fabric helps to prevent puckers when quilting .

In my lectures at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Expo there was some wonderful sharing and a number of quilters recommended a few markers I hadn’t tried. So far I’m liking them. Here are a couple for you to experiment with:

Bohin™ white mechanical chalk pencil (rubs or washes off) – a very fine line. One quilter commented that some of the color “leads” were harder to remove than the white.

Clover™ white marker (irons off) be aware that the mark doesn’t show right away and you need to wait for at least 10 seconds. When it does appear it is quite visable and irons off easily.

Graphite (rub off with a damp piece of muslin). I found this in the Morton Hoops™ booth at Expo. It fits in the soap stone stylis and can be sharpened to a fine point.

If I’ve missed your favorite or you have any comments to make about mine, please let me know. Happy marking!

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2 comments

  1. I have been hesitant to try the soap because most of them have moisturizing elements that I thought would leave a stain. Do you favor a particular brand? Have you a method for “resharpening” your slivers? I have tried lots of marking tools and learned some lessons. The biggest one is no one marker is right for every situation and some quilts need several different ones. I have had trouble removing the colored leads from Sewline but they are very easy to use.


    • Hi Sarah, So nice to hear from you. I’ve used every color and brand of soap and have not had problems removing any of them. Whatever my husband brings back from business trip hotels is what I use :-). You’re right about there not being one perfect marker for every project. That’s why I need to own them all.



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