First time using a Hera Marker

I always find marking stitching lines on a quilt a bit problematic: Will the marker stain the fabric?; or, what if the marks disappear whilst I’m squishing the quilt through the sewing machine throat? Some time ago I wrote about the pros and cons of the various markers I’ve tried.

This week I’ve used a different marking tool. I know some of my quilting heroines (see links below) use Hera Markers and when the tool was mentioned at the Improv Free Motion Quilting workshop a couple of weeks ago I decided to ‘splash my cash’ and purchase a Hera Marker. As patchwork quilting equipment goes Hera Markers are definitely at the low cost end of the spectrum! 😉

So what is a Hera Marker? I’d describe it as a blunt plastic knife that can score lines on fabric without damaging or breaking fibres. Apparently Hera’s were originally made of bone and used by Japanese Kimono makers. These garments are generally made of silk, the Hera creates a shiny, non-permanent groove to use as a stitching line guide.

I’m not going to be making a silk Kimono any time soon (ever!) but I will be making quilts. My latest quilt is a fourth version of the Dashing Stars quilt we use to teach the Beginners Course at Purple Stitches. I decided to stitch a diamond grid across the quilt.

An easy way to initiate the pattern is to use a long quilting ruler that has a 30º angle line printed on it. Spread the quilt sandwich out flat, line up the 30º line of the ruler on one edge of the sandwich. Run the Hera Marker along the edge of the ruler. To make an effective mark you will need to use a reasonable pressure – similar to that used when slicing two or three layers of fabric with a rotary cutter. Move the ruler across the quilt, using the Hera Marker as you go, until you reach the opposite edge.

Decide how far apart you want the grid lines to be and line up the ruler on the previous marked line ready to echo the next line across. It is possible to mark out the entire quilt before beginning to stitch but I decided to mark two or three lines and stitch them before marking the following few lines. Once all the diagonal lines are marked and stitched in one direction it’s time to take the ruler to the opposite side of the quilt and mark the lines that will create the diamond grid effect. Again I chose to mark 2 or 3 lines, stitch them and then mark the next few lines.

My overall experience of using the Hera marker was encouraging. I’d definitely use it again for marking straight quilting lines. I only had only issue: the bright LED light above the needle of my machine eliminates shadows thus making the scored groves difficult to see. I found I could keep the stitching line straight by keeping my eyes on the scored line 2 or 3 inches in front of the needle – just before it disappeared under the light.

As I wrote above, several well known quilters use Hera markers. Here are links to posts that mention use of the tool:

Suzy Q includes a video with her blog post, ‘5 Reasons Why a Hera Marker is the Best Quilt Marking Tool‘. Yvonne Fuchs explains how she used a Hera marker when making her recent quilt, ‘Two Hearts Beating as One’. They are both confident enough to use a Hera to mark quilting lines on a quilt sandwich before pin basting.

In this short video Sally Manke demonstrates several different uses of a Hera including marking the stitching lines on a half square triangle.

Patti uses a Hera Marker rather than an iron to press seams. Her video is full of handy tips. Who’d have thought there were so many uses for this little tool? 🙂

This short article on the Spruce Crafts website summarizes the pros and cons of Hera Markers.

Please do share your experiences of using Hera Markers and any handy tips you’ve discovered along the way. Thank you!

Joining in the link-up with Susan for Midweek Makers.


5 thoughts on “First time using a Hera Marker

  1. That’s a good review of the marker. I’ve seen it used on videos, but my vision is so bad that I’m not sure if I could see it at all. Did you find it worked better on solids than on prints, or the other way around?

    • Hi! Marti. I found the Hera Marker worked best on light to medium colours. On the dark colour fabrics I could see a shiny line rather than a groove. I think if your eyesight is poor the Hera Marker may not be the best choice – I guess a marking pen/chalk that gives good contrast is better for you? I often use strips of masking tape as a guide for stitching straight lines on a quilt.

  2. I don’t use a hera marker, Allison, so I can’t offer any tips. I appreciate that you have shared links to check out the pros and cons of this simple tool. 🙂


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