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The Art of Quilt-making, Part 5 -- Marking the Quilt Top
by Mary Asper, Green Mountain Designs
A Seasoned Quilter Shares Her Tips


In this article, Mary Asper of Green Mountain Designs shares her tips for successful quiltmaking. Although it is written especially for the beginning quiltmaker, even more experienced artisans may find valuable information. See Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV for more tips.

Mary’s Tip: Make sure the marker you use is safe!

There has been much controversy about which marker is the best to use for marking the quilt top. Follow these tips, and you will do just fine!

  1. Avoid using the fade-away markers; the ones that you do not need to remove the ink from the quilt top. These have been known to return as ugly brown lines on quilts – and the lines are not removable!
  2. If you use the wash-away markers, be sure to completely wash the quilt with soap when you have finished quilting. This should avoid any future visits from unwanted quilting lines!
  3. To be absolutely safe, mark with chalk or soft lead pencil.
    1. My favorite marker is called the Quilter’s Ultimate Marking Pencil. This is a fine, soft lead pencil. I find it very effective, even for intricate designs.
    2. A second favorite is Clover chalk pencils, with changeable heads in several colors. These contain just a little wax, which helps the chalk to adhere to the fabric but does not leave a line once you’ve washed the chalk away.
  4. For small areas or designs (where you can mark a little – quilt a little – mark a little and so on…) use a chalk-filled muslin bag. These are sole commercially as Pouncers or you can make your own. Using a quilting stencil, you dust chalk from the bag over the stencil to mark the quilting lines. The chalk brushes away quickly, however, so this method is not for intricate quilting!
  5. There are products called Quilt-A-Peels that are stick-on templates for making quilting lines. They work well – unless you leave them on the quilt for a long time! If left too long, they leave sticky residue behind. If you use these, stick one on just before you quilt that area and remove it as soon as the quilting is finished.
  6. A few companies now offer a soft, tearable fabric much like interfacing which is pre-marked with the quilting lines. You pin or baste this fabric to your quilt top and machine or hand quilt along the lines – fast, accurate and easy!

Any of these methods will help you successfully mark your top for quilting.

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