Monday, January 25, 2016

Experiments in Marking


While planning my half square triangle quilt, I knew I wanted to quilt it with straight lines running diagonally across the quilt. I usually use the guide on my walking foot to quilt straight lines, but suspected that technique wouldn’t cut it for this project. The combination of having the lines running diagonally and wanting the lines to intersect with the peaks of the triangles meant that I needed something a little more precise.

I decided to mark my quilt. I have a hera marker and use it often for quick marking needs. I love that it will never run out and that it works on all colors of fabric. (For those who aren’t familiar with hera markers, they put a crease in the fabric that serves as the mark. I use this one.) For this project, however, I wanted to try something that would give me a clearer visual guide.

I tested two types markers, chosen based on positive reviews on Amazon. 

The three contenders!

The first were these pencils, made from clay, wax and pigment. I liked that there were three colors of pencils in the package. I also tried this pen. I was a bit hesitant to try a micron pen, since I’ve heard so many horror stories from fellow quilters. 

I drew lines on a swatch (including a line without any marking, for the sake of comparison) and quilted over the lines. The pink and blue were both fairly subtle on the cream fabric, while the pen was a shocking shade of purple. I felt downright mischievous drawing a dark purple line on such light fabric.


My marked lines.


The instructions for both types said to rub the marking off with a wet towel. Though most of the pink and blue markings came off, I had a difficult time getting them off fully. I think because I quilted over the line, some of the markings remained under the thread. I cold see a hint of color after rubbing. 

The ink from the purple pen disappeared completely! In fact, an area that I marked but didn’t wipe with water was gone the next day, as the ink is air soluble and truly disappearing ink. 

The lines after rubbing with water.

The clear winner for my needs was the purple pen. It worked great for quilting, with the caveat that you have to quilt your project very soon after marking, or your lines will be gone! I marked four to six lines at a time, quilted, and then repeated the process. The disappearing nature of the ink was a great bonus for me, as there was no work required to remove the ink after quilting.

The pink and blue pencils would probably be good for general sewing needs, but I did not find them great for marking quilting lines. I can’t imagine rubbing every line of quilting on a larger quilt—that would be quite time consuming! 

I'm glad I took the time to mark this quilt. My quilting lines are straight and evenly spaced. The time spent finding the right tool and marking the quilt top was definitely time well spent!

Please note: I purchased these products at a retail location. I received no compensation of any kind from any of the companies mentioned. These opinions are all my own!

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