After finishing up the 84" long back-art strip from Vintage Rouge's many tiny scraps, and piecing the quilt back together, I spent a bit of time last week thumbing through my free-motion quilting resources. This is the first quilt I'm obsessing over, so I really want to do it right. It's also one of the largest quilts I've attempted, so I'm trying to make it as painless a task as possible.
Instead of winging it and winding up willy nilly meandering once it's under the quilting foot, I decided to actually mark the top with quilting lines. Having studied up on that, and the various ways to achieve this task, I felt it best to use a water-soluble blue marker for the bulk of the marking. Off I went to JoAnn Fabric yesterday to purchase a handful of water soluble pens and pencils.
Wouldn't you know that the one I'd like best, that wrote the smoothest was a thicker tip marker, not a fine point, and of course, wouldn't you know I only bought one of those (I bought three of the fine points). C'est la vie.. No matter, I gave them all a workout drawing 45 degree lines for gridding. (Who knew that this little task would eat up more than 4 hours of a Saturday night!) I found the fine tip ones dragged on the fabric and sometimes needed multiple strokes per line. And every pen seemed to need a rest after each block, so having multiples on hand is the way to go. Switch them out when they start to become light and dry--they will rejuvenate themselves.
When I was done with all the 45 degree angle work, I did a little 'outlining' in preparation for echo quilting around the applique.
And then, not confident in my own freehand drawing skills, I hit the books for stenciling advice.
I do have a quilt pounce that I've used once before on a hard plastic stencil and it worked pretty good, but you can't use it on an un-sandwiched quilt top because the chalk will rub off while you're pinning, and anyway, I don't own a stencil that would work on this quilt, so that wasn't an option.
So I was forced to learn a new technique....tulle stenciling.
First you draw or trace a design you want to use. Use a colored marker for this. (you'll find out why a bit later)
Next, cut a square of tulle the size of the block you want to quilt. Tape the tulle to your desk at each corner.
Slide your design between the tulle and your desk.
Measure to be sure that you are centering your design underneath the square of tulle. Once you've got it centered, tape the edge of the paper down so it doesn't slide around.
Take a black Sharpie (or other marker) and trace your design on to the tulle. Because you used a colored marker on the paper, it will be easy to see that you are covering the design lines on the tulle. You will need to lay your hand on the tulle to keep it from slipping around while tracing. And, most importantly, DON'T LOOK AT THE TULLE to see if your design is inking....LOOK AT THE PAPER. If the colored lines on the paper are now black, there is ink on the tulle. No worries!
As you can see, it's going to be a lighter design on the tulle. Doesn't matter. For what we're doing, it is fine. You won't get a thick line on the tulle because it's full of little holes that the ink drops out of :).
Run your iron over it to set the marker. While this may not be entirely necessary, you don't want to take any chances transferring Sharpie to your quilt top. Oh, and put the Sharpie away--now.
Pin the tulle to the block you want to transfer the design to. You won't need to worry about centering if you cut the tulle to the block size to begin with, and you used your ruler to center the design you traced onto the tulle. Pin it as close to the design as you can. You can even pin through the design elements you aren't tracing at the moment.
Then take your water soluble blue marker and draw over the permanent marker lines on the tulle.
Lift off the tulle and you've now transferred your quilt pattern directly onto your quilt top.
If you like, draw in some additional quilting lines to follow, or as a guide.
Painless freemotion quilt design.. No drawing and cutting plastic stencils, no stitching through Golden Threads or exam table paper from the doctor's office. No chalk lines rubbed off by your gloves.
Pretty quick, and most definitely the easiest way to create a stencil that I've ever tried.
Be sure that you not leave your quilt out in the sun or decide to iron the top now that it's marked--this may permanently set these lines. And don't leave it in a humid place either....as your water soluble ink may disappear. Commence to getting that baby sandwiched and under the quilting foot as soon as possible after marking.
I'll be sandwiching my marked Vintage Rouge tomorrow. Maybe you've a day off tomorrow too. If so, I hope you're able to enjoy some quality time with your sewing machine.