Quilt Marking Tools

Quilt marking tools are necessary to mark quilting lines on a quilt or to draw sewing lines on appliqué or patches for piecework, marking tools are an important part of a quilter’s notions basket.  In all cases but one, the one requirement to use a certain marking pen over another is the ability to remove the lines. Quilting lines need to be washed out when the quilting is complete. The only instance in which durability of the drawn lines is important is the writing tool used to make the quilt’s label.


A basic mechanical pencil is useful to mark sewing lines on patches for piecework or to draw the outline of the pieces to be appliqued onto a base fabric. In some cases, it can also be used to draw shapes onto the base fabric for appliqued blocks to help with the placement of the appliqued pieces. Mark lightly if using a regular lead, and always quilt marking toolsremember to test on a scrap to see if the line can be erased when the line is drawn in the right side of the fabric (as in applique).
To mark on dark colored fabrics, colored and white ceramic lead mechanical pencils are also available. The lines can be washed out with a dab of water or erased with the eraser included in these pencils. These pencils draw very fine lines, but there is a certain amount of drag and a firm surface needs to be placed under the fabric to draw lines with ease.

Fabric Markers

There are two different kinds of markers used to draw lines on fabric. The difference between the two is the kind of ink used in them. Markers are available in air soluble ink formulas and washable ink formulas.

Air soluble markers draw lines that disappear on their own after a certain amount of time. The time it takes for the line to disappear depends on the humidity, but lines will be gone in twenty four to seventy two hours. These markers quilt marking toolsare made by different manufacturers and are available in different tip thickness. Some of these markers are available as double tipped sets with an eraser to remove mistakes straight away when marking. Most of these markers’ ink color is purple, which makes them useful to draw on light colored fabrics.
These markers major drawback is exactly the fact that the lines do disappear quickly, so unless you mark a little at the time, if you let your piecework/quilting sit for a few days, the lines will be gone. There is controversy as well regarding removing the lines. Sometimes the lines can appear back after disappearing (faintly), or a yellow shadow shows after washing and/or ironing the fabric marked.

Water-soluble markers draw lines that disappear after being dabbed with water or a damp cloth. Most of these markers contain blue ink, although white ones are available as well. The thickness of the line depends on the quilt marking toolsmanufacturer and the thinner the tip, the better. These markers have two major drawbacks: lines become permanent if treated with heat, so care has to be taken to ensure all lines are completely gone before ironing the blocks. Even leaving a piece of fabric with lines drawn in a car in summertime will set these lines. Another important point to remember is to rinse the finished quilt in plain water before using any detergent product to launder it. The sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide in some laundry detergents react with a chemical in the ink and turn the lines brown and hard to remove.

Tailors’ Chalk

Available in pink, blue, white and yellow, tailors’ chalk is useful to quilters because the lines are generally very easy to remove. This can also be a drawback, because by simply applying friction, the lines do disappear, so they are chalk wheel 2used to mark quilting lines but not really useful to draw sewing or appliqué lines. When using for marking quilt lines, it’s best to draw the lines after the three quilt layers are basted. The chalk’s method of delivery onto the fabric can be via a wheeled marker, a pouncer or a pencil with a chalk lead.
Wheeled markers can be tubular or triangular shaped. They both have a small metal wheel that delivers the chalk powder as it rolls on the fabric surface. Chalk refills are available for both types.
Chalk pouncers are used with quilt design stencils. The pouncer delivers chalk powder when rubbed against the stencil. Chalk is available in several colors. The major drawbacks are the fact that the quilting lines will be as thick asquilt marking tools the cuts in the stencil and that, even though new chalk powders have better staying power they do tend to rub off easily. Some quilters spray them lightly with hairspray to try to prevent them from disappearing too quickly.
Chalk pencils are wooden pencils with leads made from compressed chalk powder. They are available in several colors. They need to be sharpened often to keep the lead tip thin. The lead can be very brittle so it tends to snap easily. The lines are fairly easy to remove, but sometimes the colored chalk lines can be difficult to remove completely. A “magic eraser” sponge, dampened and squeezed nearly dry can be used to remove colored lines.

Hera Markers

Hera markers are plastic tools with a sharp edge that creates a crease to mark straight quilting lines. They do not quilt marking toolsrequire any ink or pigments, so there is no danger of residue remaining on the fabric’s surface.

Painters’ Tape

Available for quilters in one-quarter inch width, it is useful to mark quilting lines when quilting one-quarter inch away from seams. Other widths of masking tape are available at painting supply stores. It is paper tape coated with a very small amount of adhesive. It sticks to fabric, but it is very easy to remove and leaves no residue. However, it is best to remove it right after finishing the quilting line. If left for long periods of time, the adhesive can peel from the paper and onto the fabric. Painters’ tape can be reused several times. Be careful not to pierce the tape with the quilting needle because the adhesive can gum up the needle.


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