Sunday, October 25, 2015

More Marking Methods

Last week I wrote about marking every little line for the pumpkin seed pattern, but different designs require different treatment depending on their complexity and the quilter's expertise.

This quilt of mine requires a lot of interesting background quilting.  It certainly isn't boring, but I have spaces that need to be filled with designs that will remain decorative but unobtrusive.  With that in mind I have made them regular and repetitious but (hopefully) engaging.  Each design fills a relatively small space and in order to sew them nicely I feel compelled to provide guidelines, but I don't need to mark every line.  There are multiple ways to do that depending on the design, so here is what I have done.  My marks today are with a pink pen which has ink that disappears gradually in air and all the way with water.

I am quilting the quilt completely and then sewing a thread-painted bird onto it.  The background is painted with Intense pencils before quilting, but I did not paint in the areas that will be covered by the bird, leaving those areas plain white.  However, I will still be quilting in those spaces so that the back of the quilt will not have big, un-quilted blotches behind the bird.  [The following photos do not adhere to any consistent scale so ignore the size differences]

The first items that need marking are 1-inch circles in which I am stitching a sunburst with curved rays.  I found I needed a grid to keep an even number of rays coming out of the center in a regular manner.  The red is drawn with micron pen and intended to be permanent.  I will not be quilting on that red line.  You can see how I marked the grid.  I free motion quilted the inner circle and then the eight rays in the manner of the blue line, moving from the center to the outside red circle in a curve and backtracking back to center, then moving on to start the next ray at the next gridline on the center ring.  They are not perfect, but they are close and reasonably regular, which I like.  Read on to see the next photo, which shows a bunch of them completed.  I will stitch pebbles
around the sunbursts eventually.

Sunburst grid
Next I have some rows of triangles,which I am filling with free motion straight lines.  I marked a few lines in each triangle to help me keep the lines as straight as possible.  Since this photo is taken of an unpainted area I used blue marker for the triangles.  The stitching will show on the back so it needs to look right.  Straight lines are not easily done with free motion, but these are too short to mess with a walking foot and turning the quilt a jillion times.  With practice it is possible to learn do them pretty evenly, and as I mentioned last week they don't have to be obsessively perfect to look nice.
Guide lines in the triangles
Finished sunbursts and triangles
The last areas to fill are some yellow rows that are only 1-inch deep.  I decided to do feathers, but I wanted to keep them fairly regular so I made a pattern of the curve I wanted for the spine, and cut it from a double layer of freezer paper (shiny sides ironed together).

Freezer pattern for feather spine.
Feather spine
I love doing feathers and do not need to draw them out so I will free-motion stitch them along the spine.  If  you are not comfortable with free feathers, they could be drawn with a marker too.

TIP:  Last week a comment was made about marking with Frixon pens.  They seem magical as the marks disappear with heat from an iron or hair dryer.  I want to warn you that these pens are made for paper and not for fabric.  Their behavior on fabric was unintended, unplanned and not guaranteed.  The problem with them is that if your quilt gets cold or is shipped somewhere in freezing weather the pen marks will reappear.  It is clear that although the ink becomes invisible, it remains in the fabric in some form.  In many cases this is not a problem, but at least be aware.

Sew a happy seam this week.


  1. Great quilting. Thank' s for the warning about my use of Frixion pens. So far so good but I'll bear it mind xx

  2. Thanks for all the quilting tips. ;)

  3. Some great tips!! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I'm always interested in marking techniques that others use. Thanks for sharing yours, and thanks for linking up to MCM. :)

  5. Great post about marking for FMQ. My experience with when to mark and when not to mark is similar to yours. Thanks for sharing your experience and your tips. All very helpful.