Tissue paper marking

There was some interest in my marking for this year’s holiday quilt. so I thought I’d talk more about how I do it. 

I love tissue paper marking.  If I’m making multiple copies of the same thing, then it’s the bomb.  If there is no repeat to the quilting, like in the silk house quilt I did this year, then it’s just as easy to draw onto the fabric.  But, if there is repeat, then this makes that very easy. 

It takes some practice.  Don’t expect your first efforts to be stupendous, so use that knowledge to help you pick the pattern you begin with.  Avoid straight lines or patterns that require an exact repeat.    The snowflake pattern I’m working now would have frustrated me in the beginning because there would have been no way I could keep the lines straight.  But, with some practice, I can.

First, before anybody gets excited, let me talk about the drawbacks.  The tissue paper tears.  Good giftwrap quality tissue paper has a shiny side that’s more like a plastic coating and that helps give it some stability, but the whole activity of tissue paper marking is putting holes in the paper and the more holes there are, the less stable the paper is and the more likely to tear.
The other drawback is that it shifts, so if you aren’t careful about holding it to the top of the quilt as you quilt through it, it will move and that star you were going to put over the manger will end up on a shepherd’s face.

Ask me how I know.

After you’ve got your pattern and needle punched through the pattern and into the tissue paper, you end up with something like this.  Be sure when you’re needle punching it to keep the stitches as long as you can.  The more holes, the less stable.  The more distance between stitches, the fewer holes there will be.  But, make sure that you keep the holes close enough together that you can see the direction you’re heading.  If my stitches are too far apart, then I won’t be able to see where to put the next stitch around my free motion quilting foot. 


The tissue gets pinned to the quilt.  For a small piece of paper, I’ll use straight pins, but for larger pieces, it’s my quilting safety pins.  Quilt along the perforated lines.  If you do tear the paper, pin it down to stabilize it quickly before it can tear more…a stitch, in time, saves nine.

In the picture below, I’ve started to tear it away.  I need to do that pretty early in the process, so I’ve quilted six snowflakes and uncovered the first three so I can get a look at the quilt.  I’ve torn away bits along the way to check tension and things like that, but I like to get far enough along that I can uncover a good sized section and make sure this is actually what I want to do on the whole quilt before I put too much work into it.


For this quilt, the big question was whether I wanted the snowflakes to extend over the lettering.  The hope was that the snowflakes would be there, but not interfere with the writing or the piecing.  As you can see, it doesn’t detract at all.  I used invisible thread, so when the light is directly on the quilt, you don’t even see the quilting.  It’s only when it’s lit from the side that the quilting pattern shows up.


It’s going pretty quick.  It would be great to have it finished before Christmas.  We’ll see.  I also am trying to make a tree skirt. 

So many things I’d like to do.

Everybody have a great Thursday.  It’s my last work day of the week.  Yay!! 

Be well.  Lane

1 comment:

mssewcrazy said...

Thanks for the tissue paper marking lesson. I used to use one of those little tiny projector things to make applique patterns from things I would see in books and magazines ; so glad I didn't get rid of it as I think it could be used like you are using an overhead. I love all the quilts you do. The snowflake quilting idea is so neat for a Christmas quilt. I still haven't ventured into free motion quilting but want to try at some point. I always enjoy the blog-just a good mix of life happenings and sewing.