This is another case of “I make all the mistakes so you don’t have to”! I learned so many things the hard way on my Lily quilt. I’ll be passing along my mistakes and remedies.
First, marking. You know I don’t like to mark and I only mark when I have to. I put grids all over this quilt, so that required marking. I marked 3/8″ grids on the Radiance fabric in the center and 1/2″ grids on the border of raw silk-all of this on wool batting.
So we have challenges from the get go: I was marking on a partially quilted quilt, I was marking on Radiance which is a bit flimsy and I was marking on raw silk, full of texture and thirsty fibers.
Marking on a partially quilted quilt creates issues because you have some inevitable billowing that will occur: the quilted areas are controlled and flattened and the unquilted areas are loose. So when you lay your ruler down to mark, it flattens the billowing fabric. That creates little tucks along the length of the ruler, making it difficult to mark. All this on wool batt with its high loft and you’ve got a challenge already.
Marking on the Radiance can create tucks too-the marking pen will kind of skip around on the loosey goosey fabric. And then at the other end of the spectrum we have the raw silk. It’s full of bumpy texture, the color is dark, and the fibers just suck up the line of the pen. Do you see the grid markings here? Really, well I can hardly see them either!
Also, I happened to do some of the marking in Huntington Beach on my vacation. Well guess what-you’ve got a very humid atmosphere, you’ve got a water soluble marker…..yup, they disappeared before I could quilt them. So I had to remark and then quilt right away-yuk. Something I actually already knew was to have an inventory of markers and to rotate them as I worked. That prolongs the life of the pen. Also, store them horizontally in a baggie-also extends their life.
And, don’t forget to label them with the date of purchase. On the first few I forgot to do this but later I marked the date of purchase on a piece of masking tape. That way I know which one is freshest.
When you are marking, resist the temptation to push hard on the marker. This does not get you a good line. Instead, actually ease up on the marker and just touch the fabric and glide-your line will be smoother and easier to quilt.
MARKING MY GRID
I came up with a system that I liked for marking the 1/2″ grid-it won’t work for any other size. It’s quite simple. I laid down my first mark. Then I used this 1/2″ wide ruler from Omnigrid, laid it next to the first line and marked my next line. I then butted up another ruler to the 1/2″ ruler for stability and worked my way across the surface, lickety split. I know June Tailor makes a 1/2″ grid marker but I found that my line wobbled a bit in the plastic of the stencil and tended to skip more. This method worked great for me.
I am no pro at marking. Because it is so fraught with peril I try to avoid it at all costs. But sometimes you have to mark. I hope this is a little bit of help for any of you new to this. And if you’ve got some tips of your own, I would love to hear them, so please, comment!