I’ve wanted to make a scrappy Snail’s Trail quilt for some time now. Over the weekend I decided to start and promptly got all my scraps out of hiding and went to work. Originally, I wanted to use white on white as the background, but I don’t have enough white on white. It took forever to cut (even with my Accuquilt Go!) as my scraps are more suited for applique than block pieces. When I had enough cut for eight blocks I started to sew. Almost completed, I went to get a project box for them as my calculations are telling me I will need 64 blocks. I like to store my ongoing quilts in project boxes; it just makes it easier to keep everything together. When I looked on the shelf, I noticed I had a project box that was labeled Snail’s Trail. It seems many years ago when I came up with this idea, I started collecting fabric for it including the white on white. I had eight (now practice) blocks almost completed that did not go with my newly found fabrics. My choices were 24” by 36” or 24” by 24” OR…..make another block and end up with 36” by 36.” BINGO! Is there a song like Bingo but for a cat?
A cat? Yes, because this is the perfect size for my cat, Lola. You see, Lola loves quilts. She chooses them over area rugs, blankets, sun filled windows, etc. I have a quilted piece that I was testing tension and designs on so I put it on the floor in my studio to see what she would do. Yep, worked like a cat magnet.
I texted my daughter the picture of the pieced quilt and her response was, “Lucky Lola.” Perfect quilt name. Now to find the backing fabric and the time to do the quilting.
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.
So you bought the Westalee Ruler Foot and Sampler Set. Now what do you do? If you can’t find a local class or your machine is in a cabinet that you can’t load in your car, take an online class.
The class we offer is hosted by Pam Varner, Westalee Design Accredited Teacher.
Each month you will have the opportunity to attend a Live Webinar which will include videos by Leonie West, Tips from Pam, and Q&A. Learn how to use Stable Tape (the white bumpy stuff). Discover the ways reference lines both on the templates and your quilt, can assist you create beautiful designs. On going email support is available for all students.
A word from Pam:
What you will learn is how to use all the templates in the Sampler Set. Using the reference lines on the templates and on your quilt are explored. In addition to learning the basic shapes, you are shown alternative ways throughout the course to use the templates. The goal is for you to become comfortable using them and build your skills. My intention is for you to take these skills and apply them to your own tops.
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!