Let’s face it, not everyone likes working with chemicals of any kind. Some have sensitivities or allergies to contend with. I consider my self fortunate that I don’t fall in that category. Some just prefer not to use pens, pencils, crayons, etc on their fabric. I have some solutions for that.
A plus here is the smell. Fill your sewing space with the scent of cinnamon and you may never need your kitchen again. Will brush or wash off. In my previous post, I talked about Ultimate Pounce Powder. You can add a pinch of cinnamon to that powder on very light fabrics.
Old Fashioned Bar Soap
Make sure that it is plain, unscented and is free from oils. You can cut off slivers to use for marking. The soap easily washes away. I have had soap get on my iron; if that happens, wait until your iron has cooled off and simply wipe away with a damp rag.
Last for today is a Hera Marker. The edge of it is sharp (not like a knife so you won’t hurt yourself) . It leaves an indent in your fabric. This will not show up if you mark your fabric on a hard surface, so it’s not the best choice for some applications. When marking a quilt sandwich, the batting gives the squish you need so the lines show up. When marking pieces of just fabric, I use my ironing surface or lay on top of a piece of batting.
My eyes are not the best, so I sometimes struggle to see a Hera Marker line. I have found if I turn down, off, or cover my sewing machine light that I have better visibility. (My lights are LED, if yours are not, I strongly discourage you from doing this as it could be a fire hazard.)
That concludes my organic choices. Have you tried any of these options? What were your experiences? If I haven’t touched on a something that interests you, don’t worry, there’s a few more techniques yet to be explored.
Today I am going to talk about a few different marking tools. These are my personal favorites and are listed in order of preference. I will explore more in future posts, so stay tuned.
Let us start with my go-to marking tool. I empty a Chaco Pen Style liner and fill it with Ultimate Pounce Powder. Both must be white. I use a can of air to make sure all the Chaco powder is removed; careful as the end cap can fly across the room and yes, I am speaking from experience. This liner fits perfectly in the Westalee Design Crosshair Squares. The Ultimate Pounce Powder will brush, wash, or iron off. Pounce Powder comes in different types and colors so be sure it’s the Iron Off Ultimate; again, only in white. I think I have 3 of these in various locations in my studio. If it shows up on my fabric, this is what I use. I always have one next to my machine for those times I mark on the go.
Next up, Sewline’s Products for when white doesn’t show up. I like this Sewline Styla Ceramic Roller Ball Water Erasable Pen because it’s a fine line and fainter than most water-soluble pens. Their Liquid Eraser is a great way to remove the lines without having to wash the entire project. It works just like a pencil eraser. It is a liquid with a ratio of 5 drops to 4 Tbl. so, it lasts a long time. I’ve seen other similar erasers and the nibs (soft end that soaks in the liquid) fall apart. I’ve been using the same one for a year. They are replaceable.
Finally, Frixion Markers. Yes, I have read and heard all the horror stories. No, these are not formulated for use with fabric. I get it, some people really don’t like these and adamantly discourage everyone from using them. Here’s the thing, I don’t normally make heirloom quilts. I make utilitarian ones AND I have never (knocking on wood) had a mark come back. On those occasions where I don’t want to take even the slightest chance, I don’t. Now for a few tips.
A few tips for using these.
Use the color markers, not the pens with metal tips. These have felt tips and will not scratch your fabric, which is my unproven reason why marks appear.
Treat your fabric prior to marking with a starch. I’ve tried a few brands. Again, unsubstantiated, but I believe it puts a barrier between the marker and the fabric.
This isn’t a strength contest, use a super light hand. The mark only needs to show up enough for you to see it.
A fine line marker was recently released. Not a fan. The tip on the one I tried started falling apart after a few weeks.
Well, those are the first 3 on my list. Over the coming weeks, I will share some more.
Few last thoughts: I often remind my students that all the information we find in the world is most likely based on an individual’s experiences. I have done my own tests, but I don’t run a lab. Run your own experiments, EVERY SINGLE TIME! I cannot stress this enough. And test all the variables. Farbric: was it prewashed? did you starch it? Batting; I had it absorb a marking pen once, this did not end well. Thread: Had a student suffer a mishap when the cotton thread she used would not release a wash away marker. Read the directions. Did you know that some water-soluble inks need to be rinsed in clear water? Translation: Do not use detergent to remove marks. Rinse, then wash with detergent if desired.
Sew that’s it for now. If there is a product you want to know more about, let me know. If I have experience, I’ll share. If I have the product and haven’t used it yet, I will run a test and let you know what I find out. Are you curious to see what’s next on my list?
School is back in session; seems like a perfect time to share my love of education.
I have always loved the process of learning and I am fortunate to be able to teach. For over a year now, I have been hosting the Quilt as You Go Sampler Quilt designed by Leonie West of Westalee Designs. In this course, students learn Ruler Work on their domestic sewing machines by using 7 different templates. Currently, I am conducting the course on-line. Leonie’s husband, Bill, filmed while she quilted every block. In these videos, she guides the students with her extensive knowledge of the products she invented. The two of them are an amazing team. The brilliance behind their collections of quilting ruler templates is beyond compare. They are so perfectly engineered and paired with their true 1/2″ ruler foot, a quilter will never lack for inspiration.
Why do I teach online? Ruler Work requires a flat surface and many quilters have their machines in a cabinet. The bigger machines that so many of us love, are too cumbersome to transport. Then there are those who either don’t live close to a local quilt shop or lack the means to get to one. I provide a place for them to go.
Well fellow quilters, I’ve decided to become an educator for Sew Steady®, showing tables (we all love those tables) and Westalee Design for Sew Steady. What is Westalee? Well it is a designer of ruler feet and ruler templates for the domestic sewing machine. I am super excited. I have been working with the templates for a few months now and plan to share what I have learned very soon. Apologies for being absent this past month, but once the decision was made there was a lot to do. Now that my store is open, I hope to devote more time to YOU!
Here is the bag I made for my friend’s charity raffle. I used the book, The Better Bag Maker, by Nicole Mallalieu. There are a number of reasons I like this book. The first half is filled with great techniques including excellent ideas for giving your homemade bags a professional finish. The second half is a series of projects that are organized so that you build a new skill with each bag. Remember math? Learn how to add before you multiply. I love math, so this concept was an easy one…..except I didn’t follow it. Went straight to project number 2. I’ve made a few bags in my life, so what could go wrong?
Well, not really understanding the construction as it is a little different from anything I’ve done. Would have got that down in project 1. Then there was the time I spent redrafting the pattern so that I didn’t have to copy the pattern. Much easier to use a rotary cutter; and it was. Problem was that I was on a time crunch and no one would have known if I made the bag bigger or smaller than the pattern called for. (side note: another great thing about this book is that she teaches you how to adjust pattern sizes to your liking/needs/whim/whatever.) Great lesson, but again, if I had done project 1, the bag could have been done in less than a day. A few blunders, but the end result is exactly what I wanted.
Then there was the weather. Living in the Southwest, we are in the middle of Monsoon Season. Thunder and Lightning almost daily and usually late in the afternoon. I like to sew in the afternoon. OOOPS; didn’t factor that in and lost an entire afternoon and evening to a storm, which also left me with some extra water in my bathroom. NOT FUN.
All in all, it was a weekend well spent. I learned a few techniques, picked up a trick or two, and was able to present my friend with a homemade summery bag, that doesn’t look so homemade. To top that, it’s almost the end of July and I am more than half way to my goal for the year.
Here’s the photo of the top and inside “professional” finishing.
Painter’s tape is magical. It isn’t permanent so you can use it confidently knowing your fabric will not be ruined. I use it to mark tops for quilting. I tape patterns to my wall. You can tape someone’s mouth shut. (ok, I’m kidding on that one.) If you are a machine embroiderer, you can tape fabric and other items to your stabilizer. You can hold applique pieces down. You can tape blocks on your wall and VOILA! instant design wall. There are just so many amazing things you can do with a roll of blue painter’s tape. I have yet to have it not come off something, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test it first. I know there are other colors out there, I just haven’t used them so I can’t comment.
If you use painter’s tape for sewing, please share.