These are a few of my favorite things...

Tammy asked about marking pencils the other day.  So, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about my favorites.  And, my not so favorites.  I know everyone has a favorite.  This isn't meant as any kind of endorsement or a technical study to try to find the best tool.  It's just my experimenting with the tools I encountered and deciding which ones worked. 

I've left the pounce out.  And, I've left tissue paper out.  These are two favorites.  The pounce requires a template.  You lay the template down and glide the pounce over it.  The pounce leaves a chalk residue in all the holes in the template.  It does pretty good, but you can't mark a large section at one time because the chalk wipes off.  The tissue paper requires pre-needle punching and is GREAT for repeated patterns.  I've talked about it here a ton of times, including the DWR quilt.  I've used it to mark sections as large as the 2'x3' sheet of tissue.  The only drawback is that if you pull it too hard, it will tear along the perforated needle punch lines. 

But, as far as pencils and pens go, these are the ones I keep near my machine.   

Let's go from right to left.  Regular black mechanical pencil.  Efficient, effective, cheap.  But, the marks can be hard to remove.  I usually use it when the marks will be hidden, like in a seam allowance. 

Frixion pen...okay, I got this last year as a gift for teaching a class.  I could never figure out how to extend the tip to use it.  Til this morning.  I happened to grab it just right and something moved and I figured it out.  I've never used the pen.  From what I hear, you draw it on and heat removes it.  I can't give a recommendation because it only made it into the picture so I could ask someone how to get the point to come out.  But, I'm very leery of a pen where the ink is removed by heat.  I'll study this one before I try it.

Ceramic pencil.  This is a huge favorite of mine.  It's great for marking just about anything.  The lead comes in green, pink, and white (and probably a lot of other colors, but those three are the ones I've used and enjoy.)  The only drawback I've ever seen is that when the end of the ceramic becomes smooth, the pencil doesn't make a good mark.  You need a rough edge to get a mark out of it, so sometimes, I have to break the tip off the lead to get that rough surface. 

Sharpie!  The clearest, darkest, easiest mark.  But PERMANENT!  So, only use it on places that will be covered. 

Blue water erasable marker by Clover...What a disappointment.  I used to use these pens all the time.  Then, the manufacturer decided to only put two drops of ink in each pen, and increase the price.  They last about 12 minutes.  I won't be buying any more of these. 

White water erasable marker by Dritz.  This is a great idea.  But, when I tried to mark on the dark olive fabric of the wedding quilt, I never got the mark to show up.  I drew over and over and over the same spot.  But, the white mark never showed up.  So, won't be wasting money on those anymore.  The ceramic pencil is much better for marking in white.

Blue water erasable marker by Dritz...I buy these by the handful.  They will mark on anything but medium to dark blues and black.  They even show up on that dark olive fabric in the DWR.  It's the best.  Spritz it with water and it's gone.  I've heard that the ink is permanent if it gets heat set.  But, I've done experiments and if you put the fabric in the sun, it fades the ink.  I've heard vinegar will do the same, but haven't tried.  The pens are expensive.  BUT, I still have some that are years old.  And, they still write.  The ink gets lighter over time, so the older pens need to be used on white fabrics.  And, the point will dry out, but then I set it aside and pick up another one and use it for a while, switching off between two or three.  But, the ink just keeps going on and on.  Store these point down so the ink always runs toward the point, keeping it charged with ink. 

The white thing on the end is an eraser pen.  It has water in it.  Theoretically, you can use it to draw over a water erasable line and it should erase it, and it should be usable on a single line instead of spritzing a large area.  Does it work?  Eh.  Wanna know what really works?  A cotton swab dipped in a bowl of water.  Now, that's effective at erasing water soluble ink, one line at a time.  Be sure to squeeze extra water out before you use it to erase or it will spread across an area larger than you're trying to erase.  And, Q-tips are cheap. 

Between the ceramic pencil, the blue water soluble ink, the pounce and the tissue paper, I've never run into anything I couldn't mark for quilting.  The regular black mechanical pencil is what I use for piecing. 

Okay, that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great Thursday.  I've got feathers to draw.  Tons and tons of feathers.