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.



lw said...

Thanks for commenting on which marking tools work, and why. I'll have to try tissue paper again, albeit with the holes further apart.

Wyse Acres said...

Just a quick comment on the Frixon Pen. I think they are safe if you are going to use them on something that is for your own personal use. I have been to a couple of classes recently where it has been said that the markings may come back if exposed to cold. So, picture it, you marked a quilt, quilted it, ironed away the markings, and have sent it off in January to a quilt show in a northern state... Imagine how disappointing that would be?!!


Barb H said...

I absolutely love the Frixion pens. Never had a problem with the marks returning but I've heard stories--I guess the ink washes out completely even tho it may not iron out. Tip about the blue water soluble pens--be careful marking on red. The mark may not come out unless the quilt is washed. I learned the hard way!

callie brady said...

Thank you, Lane, for the info about the erasable markers. I've always been afraid to use them and use duct tape on my quilts and hand stitch along the edge of the tape. I lap quilt so it works out ok. I mark with pencil areas where the marks will be hidden. I'll try out the Dritz marker for sure. I would like to learn to quilt shapes along with the straight lines.

John Yingling said...

For marking light colored fabrics my favorite is the purple air drying pens. They will leave a dark purple line that evaporates in about two days depending on the ambient humidity. I once made white draped poly charmeuse goddess dresses for a musical, and I used so much purple pen during the fittings, that they were purple, but in two days they returned to the original pristine white. For dark fabrics nothing beats a Clover triangular tailors chalk. If I want a white chalk line, precisely placed I use a Chaconer, those plastic valentine shaped markers that dispense chalk through a serrated wheel at the tip of the valentine. Both the tailor's and Chaconer chalk easily brush away.

Tammy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I also use two Clover Chacko Liners, mine are white and blue. The marker looks like a lipstick case and it draws a fine line of chalk. It works fairly well. I've never used the pounce and don't like the tissue, freezer wrap or parchment wrap. I find removing the bits of paper from the quilting messy and pain you know where.

Sally Langston Warren said...

Lane, do you use the special mechanical pencils made for the ceramic lead or just a regular mechanical pencil? I remember reading somewhere, someone saying to save your money and use a regular mechanical pencil. I haven't been able to get the ceramic lead into the regular mechanical pencil.mmaybe I just don't know what I am doing ( I do not normally use mechanical pencils.)

Sharlene said...

Hi Lane, I was directed to this article by a member of my local guild and I think it will help you in your decision on using a Frixion pen: