Chalk for marking is available in pencil form and powder form. The pencil form has pieces of chalk that fit in a mechanical type pencil. The chalk comes in several different colors, and refills can be purchased. The powder form is used in a dispenser with a cog roller at the bottom. You can purchase refills in white and blue.
Pros: Tried and true method for marking fabric. Easily removed. Chalk sticks can be sharpened, but the point doesn't last long. Both come in colors that will show on light and dark fabric.
Cons: Chalk sticks break easily. Chalk brushes off easily so you can mark only a small area at a time.
To do this you must first punch holes in a paper pattern. This can be done by running the paper through the sewing machine using an unthreaded needle to outline. By stapling several layers together you can make more than one punched pattern at a time. However, usually you can use the same piece several times. Once the holes are punched, lay the pattern on the quilt bumpy side up and gently glide the pouncer across the template (don't whack it from above). Lift the template and the chalk outlines your design. The chalk comes in both white and blue.
Pros: Once the holes are punched this is easy and accurate. Either white or blue shows up well on most fabrics.
Cons: The chalk rubs off easily so you can prepare only a small area at a time. It doesn't work well for a very complex design.
|Pouncing chalk and Golden Threads tissue|
This tissue is a sturdy, yellow tissue paper that is great for punching holes for use with pouncing chalk. You can also draw or machine stitch (unthreaded) the design on the paper, pin it to the quilt, and sew through paper and quilt.
Pros: The design is clear and easy to follow.
Cons: This paper is too thin to run through a printer. If you sew through it on the quilt you must pick out the paper when you are done, and some tiny pieces invariably get stuck in the stitches. I have a good pair of tweezers on hand for this problem.
4. Blue Water-soluble Marker
This marker has become a standard in the industry. It leaves a blue mark on the fabric which disappears with water. DO NOT IRON. There is also a Blue Line Eraser currently available (I have not tried this).
Pros: Works beautifully and is one of my most used tools. It stays until I am done with my quilting. Washes out with water.
Cons: Doesn't show up on dark fabrics. Can dry out, but you can keep it in the freezer between uses and it works like new (I have not tried this). Cannot iron over it. I have also heard that the ink sometimes disappears spontaneously (hasn't happened to me!). As I say, I have encountered no issues with this marker on my quilts (100% cotton), but some people have had problems.
|Blue Water-Soluble marker|
There are two white markers on the market. One is water soluble (I have not tried this) and the other disappears with heat, i.e. the iron.
Pros: Shows up on dark colors.
Cons: My experience is with the heat-removable variety. I found that it didn't show up immediately, which I don't like. When it finally appeared, it was hard to see. I marked a big quilt and by the time I got 1/4 of the way through my quilting all the white marks had disappeared and had to be re-marked.
(No photo - I no longer use this)
6. Purple or Magenta Disappearing Ink Marker
This marker is visible for 2-3 days and disappears when exposed to air or water.
Pros: Handy for marking when needed for only a short time. Can be removed with water if desired.
Cons: Doesn't show up on dark colors.
|Purple and Magenta Disappearing Ink markers|
I love my ceramic pencil. Mine is made by Sew-Line, but there are other brands. The ceramic "lead" is like chalk, but is sturdier, thinner and doesn't brush off as easily as chalk. However, it can be erased with the eraser on the pencil or by rubbing with a piece of fabric. Refills of the ceramic filler can be purchased in several colors.
Pros: Easy as a pencil to use. Gives a fine line.
Cons: Keeps getting buried under fabric because I use it so much!
|Sew-Line Cermaic pencil|
Colored marking pencils come in several colors and have for years.
Pros: Marks a relatively fine line. Doesn't smear. Lasts long enough to do the quilting.
Cons: Yellow may be difficult to remove. Constantly need sharpening and the points break easily.
(No photo - I don't use these either)
9. Frixion Pen
These pens come in different colors and can be purchased at office supply stores as well as quilt stores. A hot iron removes all visible marks.
Pros: Easy to find for purchase. Gives a clear fine line. Several colors. Will iron off.
Cons: Although the color of the ink is removed by the iron, a residue is left on the fabric, which shows up if the fabric is frozen. Sometimes it shows without freezing. I do not use these.
I recently stumbled onto this one. Trace a design on freezer paper and cut it out. Iron it onto your sandwiched quilt and trace around it with the blue water-soluble marker or ceramic pencil. Remove the freezer paper and repeat where needed. Works great.
Pros: It is easy to trace a design on freezer paper. It stays put after ironing while you trace around it onto a quilt sandwich. The template can be reused numerous times. It is cheap.
Cons: It takes time to cut out the template. You have to be careful not to iron over any of the blue marker if that is the marker you used.
The Hera Marker is a plastic tool with a sharpish "blade" on one end. It is not sharp enough to cut anything. You can draw a line by pressing the blade end on the fabric. It leaves an indentation that lasts long enough to sew a short distance. You can draw a curve or a line on which to perch some motifs so they will line up properly. Also useful for "finger" pressing.
Pros: Handy and quick to use.
Cons: Indentation is short lived.
This is a fabulous water soluble product. You can draw on it or run it through the printer, peel off the paper backing, and it sticks to the quilt with a light adhesive. You quilt right through it and the quilt sandwich. You can also use it as a soluble stabilizer.
Pros: Stays put while you quilt, but pulls away easily if you need to reposition it before sewing. I used it for a complex design that I wanted to be as symmetrical as possible, and it worked beautifully. It completely dissolves in water with a little soaking and a little hand agitation. I have used it on 100% cotton and it does not appear to have left any residue.
Cons: It is more expensive than other options (about $15 for 12 sheets 8.5 x 11 inches).
Below is a piece of recent quilting I have done. The animals were cut from freezer paper and I traced around them with a ceramic pencil. I also used the ceramic pencil to place the red diamonds as they had to be positioned relative to the quilt's center. I tried pouncing chalk for the feathers, but the chalk dots looked like a starry sky and I couldn't tell where to quilt. Eventually I drew the border design on tracing paper, scanned it into my computer, printed it on the Sticky Fabri-Solvy, stuck it to the quilt and began quilting. Fabulously easy! The fillers and the lines of pebbles were done freehand. All quilting was FMQ on my Viking domestic machine. The feathers were painted with Shiva Paintsticks after the quilt was all finished.
|A portion of my quilt "Bigtop"|
TIP: Don't be afraid to try new techniques. Some work, some don't. Some work for me, but not for you. Experiment!