About five years ago I tried hand quilting for the first time, working on a cushion cover I had hand pieced from a kit. The only information I’d found about marking a quilt pattern advised using a template and a water soluble pen. So I did! And it worked ok although I did find the pen lines needed quite a bit of water and friction to disappear!
I then acquired a sewing machine and made a quilt for my daughter using the ‘Turning Twenty’ design by Tricia Cribbs – a big square and two rectangles cut from each of twenty different fat quarters. The colours and patterns were chosen to try and reflect my daughter’s tastes and it was quickly apparent that one blue marking pen was not going to be sufficient to cover the quilt in the chosen design or indeed be a suitable colour to show up against some of the patterns. So I began to investigate alternatives and along the way found pros and cons to each tool I acquired!
The Chaco Liner Pen is my preferred method of quilt marking at the moment despite it’s cons. It certainly wouldn’t be worth marking a whole quilt as the lines brush off too easily (but that con is a pro too – it’s easy to change your mind about a pattern, brush away the chalk lines and start again). So best to mark a small section of the quilt at a time – I generally do a section that fits into the quilt hoop as I’m going along.
The worst thing that can happen with any quilt marking is discovering a supposed temporary mark has become permanent! I’ve found out the hard way that all the marking tools I’ve tried are capable of leaving permanent marks. Of course all come with the warning that a test should be done on a piece of scrap fabric before marking the fabric in the quilt top… But, really! Surely I’m not the only quilter who has trusted to luck rather than test each of twenty fabrics (or more) in a quilt top! As I guide I would say that the quality of the fabric used does seem to affect the longevity of the marked lines. More tightly woven, thinner cottons (generally cheaper than bespoke quilters cottons) seem more reluctant to let go of soluble pencil marks or chalk lines. So, definitely do a test on these fabrics and always try to use a marker colour that blends with the colour of the fabric.
If you should have a disaster with a marking tool on a quilt don’t despair! Lots of kind quilters have posted their attempts to find a solution to the same problem – just go into your search engine and hopefully you will find an answer that brings success!
I’d be very interested to know your experiences – good and bad – with different quilt marking tools.