How to mark a quilt
Have you ever walked through a quilt show and felt the inspiration oozing out of the quilty masterpieces but have wondered how the quilter makes such incredible designs on the quilts? Well, many times the key to beautiful quilting is meticulous marking.
When determining what marking tool to choose the quilter needs to consider how they will be getting those marks out as it will influence which marking method to use.
Many of the marking tools are a type of chalk product. Some quilters prefer a simple piece of classroom chalk. Others want a fine tip so they’ll choose a mechanical chalk pencil. Quilters also like using chalk that comes in a pounce pad which is used to rub over a stencil to transfer designs. Of course, white chalk will work best when marking dark fabrics but you can also find colored chalk products that allow for marking on a variety of colors as well. The best thing about chalk is that it washes out easily. Most of the time a swipe with a lint brush is enough to get rid of the marks and washing isn’t necessary. Of course it is always a good idea to test your preferred marking utensil on some scrap fabric off the surface of your quilt to be sure!
Another category of marking products use a variety of inks. Some come out with time, air, water or heat. The most common is a washable blue pen which is best when marking elaborate designs that may take a very long time to stitch. However, to completely remove the ink the quilt will need to be fully soaked after quilting. If you aren’t sure about the color fastness of the fabrics used in the top, this method may not be best.
Air erasable pens are also popular and are best for designs that will be stitched very soon after they are marked. Depending on the humidity level of the room, these marks can disappear faster than the quilter would like. The good news is that they don’t require a full soak of the quilt top in order to remove the marks.
Finally there are pens that disappear with the application of heat. However, remember that many times these marks will return if the quilt is subjected to cold which is certainly something to keep in mind if you will be shipping the quilt. The belly of an airplane can get quite cold and you don’t want your quilt to arrive at its destination with all of the marks revealed all over again!
Most importantly, experiment with marking utensils to find your favorite. Ask your fellow quilters what they like. Hop on board our online forums and ask the APQS quilting community which marking devices they like. You’ll be surprised how many choices there are on the market. Try them out and discover what applications are best for which marking pens. Find the one you like best but don’t forget to experiment with new ones now and again.