Crayola Washable Markers and Quilt Marking, Technique of the Week

It’s been a hot topic on the professional longarm forums lately: what do we use to mark quilts?  Blue pens that are water soluble?  Purple pens that disappear in air?  Washable pencils?  On a whim, I decided to try the new “ultra clean” Crayola Washable markers, and to run a little experiment.

My hypothesis: Crayola markers will come out of everything.

My supplies:
washed and unwashed fabrics (washed white solid, unwashed peach solid, batik, red solid)
Crayola markers
cold water for soaking, with and without soap.

Just getting started with the prewashed Kona white.

Just getting started with the prewashed Kona white.

I tried to think of the most common ways we use marking tools, and the most common ways we washed.

  • With and without pressing (I ironed the crap out of the heat set ones, on the highest setting for cotton)
  • Cold vs. warm water
  • With and without soap
  • Heavy vs. light markings
  • prewashed fabrics vs. fabric straight off the bolt
  • fabrics that might get bleached out vs fabrics that might stain

I made 8 samples of these on the white fabric, and then tossed them in to the water, and walked away (actually, we went blueberry picking, so I was gone for an hour or two).

In the water!

In the water!

And when I came back and rinsed the pieces (the water they were in had turned grey), they looked like this, whether they were heat set or not, washed in plain or soapy water, or whether they were in hot or cold water:

Not bad, huh?  Winner winner chicken dinner!

Not bad, huh? Winner winner chicken dinner!  These were ironed after washing, to dry them out and make them lay flat.  No marks came back.

Then I tried them on fabric straight off the bolt, and instead of making light and dark marks, I scribbled the hell out of that fabric. I still heat set.  And this time, I just used cold tap water, without soap.


Noooooooooo! Not what I was expecting, honestly.  I ironed all of these, to make them lay flat.  

My excitement and hopes were dashed.  The unwashed fabrics held on to their markings! And not only that, it looked like the ink that had come out in the water had redistributed itself all over.  do note, though, that the ink had no negative effects on the dark fabrics.

I didn’t want to give up, though.  I took the un-prewashed pieces and used cold water with soap.  And less than a minute later, this was the result:

Ink free!

Ink free!  well, except for the Pigma pen ink.  And yes, these were ironed after the initial soak, but not ironed after washing with soap.

While I wold not use this on a customer quilt, I would totally use these Crayola markers on my own; I always prewash my own personal-use fabrics, and I always wash my personal quilts after they’re done.  They’re cheap, every color I tried (all ten of them int he box) comes out, and they are impervious to heat setting.

I didn’t try the following, but want to:

  1. What happens with more luxury-type fabrics like silks or Radiance, or wool?
  2. What happens after sitting in the sun for a while?

Let me know if you try it out, I’d love to know your results!  More information is always good.  Happy quilting, y’all.  Hope this helps!

What is (and isn’t) Modern Quilting, to ME

Quilts are done for the book, first draft of the manuscript has been turned in, and the revision process is just getting kicked off.  I have a few more minutes in the day, though, to think about other things, and this topic has been on my mind a lot, since people are still talking about it and trying to define what it is: “modern quilting”.

It’s kind of a rambling post, one that I am continually processing and reprocessing, so I’m putting it into a list of ideas of how I feel about it right now.  I’d love it if we could get a conversation going, here, about what modern quilting is, and is not, to you, and how modern quilting fits into your life.  As for me, I’m kind of finding myself moving on from identifying as one thing or another, and these are the things I, personally, am thinking right now.

  • I’m not really interested in the aesthetic side of things so much, questioning whether it is or is not modern, whether it’s minimal or not, what fabric it uses, whether it’s going to fit neatly in a category according to its looks. That’s boring and unhelpful. To me, modern quilting is less about that than it is about what those quilts do and are for; modern quilting is about utility.
  • When we talk about modern quilting, we seem to talk about it in a bubble, as if it suddenly appeared one day and was its own separate entity, and the overall movement guided by the MQG actively seeks to set itself apart and maintain a kind of boundary between itself and other quilt types.  I’m not all that interested in that, myself, except for feeling that it can possibly scare people off of learning to express themselves fully through their art, trying to keep their work “modern”.   Make what you love.  Make as much of it as you want.  Don’t give a rat’s butt about anything except but making what makes you happy. And if you watch all the lectures from QuiltCon 2013, that’s what nearly every keynote speaker says.  Follow your own Muse.
  • What seems to me to be missing when we talk about modern quilting is how it fits into the world around it.  Modern quilting is part of a larger movement of people interested in DIY and homesteading, “curating” their homes and lifestyles, having their hand and work literally evident in the homes they are creating around themselves.  Modern quilting is, in part, a diary in cloth of many women and men who are teaching themselves quilting skills to make things to be part of their life stories.  As they grow in their skills and learn new techniques, you can see it change and shape the quilts they find interesting and desirable, through the popularity of circles and fussy cuts, diamond and stars.
  • We also talk about modern quilting being driven by the online community, and it is, but I worry that we miss the larger picture.  In my area, the people who love modern quilting and enjoy it for its freedom and liveliness and beauty are all quilters who have been quilting for decades.  They are all older than 50.  So many people think modern quilting is the quilting for the “young and hip”, and don’t see or know the number of people who love it but aren’t active online.  I remember at QuiltCon seeing so many, many women and men who don’t necessarily fit the “modern quilt blogger/mom/DIY/craft maven” profile.  And it pains me that we don’t acknowledge them for a number of reasons: modern quilting, in the overall scheme of things, is a small segment of the quilting world; many of these quilters have much to teach and offer; it’s seriously poor judgment to limit ourselves to profiling modern quilters based on age.
  • Modern quilting also fits into a continuum of quilt history.  As a historian it kinds of annoys the heck out of me that many modern quilters seek to divorce themselves from quilt history.  Like our grandparents and great grandparents, we are quilting our way through a recession that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression.  Our quilts are often scrappy and made to see hard use, decorative as hell, but not meant to be carefully hidden from view.
  • As a professional modern quilter, it concerns me that we ignore the quilters that came before us because they aren’t “modern”, who have much to teach us about working within the industry.

Craftsy’s “Dog Days of Summer” Sale, classes up to 50% off

Folks, if you’ve been wanting a Craftsy class, this is a great weekend for it, since all the classes are up tp 50% off.  I’ve taken a LOT of classes with Craftsy (56!  many watched, but not all), and can recommend the following as being excellent:

Sewing and Quilting
Kimmy Brunner’s “Machine Quilting with Templates”
Debbie Caffrey’s class on rotary cutting, “Cut to It”
Deborah Moebe’s “Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt”
Cindy Needham’s “Design It, Quilt It”
Angela Walters’ “Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers” and “Machine Quilting Negative Space
“Wendy Buter Berns “Pictorial Quilting Techniques” (great tips on how to baste for domestic machine in this one)

Other Stuff
Robert Danhi’s “Authentic Thai Cooking”
Peter Reinhart’s “Artisan Bread Making”
Molly Stevens’ “Secrets of Slow Cooking: Mastering the Braise” (THIS CLASS IS AWESOME)

And of course, my second class “Creative Longarm Quilting” is also on sale!

Disclaimer: Y’all, I am a Craftsy affiliate.  That means if you use my link for your classes, I get a small percentage of the purchase you make (this is true for any Craftsy instructor, just FYI).  I only recommend classes that I have taken myself, and which I like and have learned a bunch from.  


An Apology* for Required Summer Reading

I’m finishing up work on my own book right now, but I thought I’d throw this out there.  It’s about summer reading in junior and senior high, and reading things that are otherwise not going to cross your radar.  It’s pretty much taken directly from a comment I left somewhere else, but I thought it interesting enough to share, because I also think it applies to our quilting work, learning to do the things we don’t necessarily care for so we can be better disciplined and able to do all the quilty things.

In my teaching career, I’ve taught 5th through 12th grades (history and Latin, at the same time!), and college kids as a TA (history and Latin). In my personal experience, the kids that were best able to handle the college workload and make the most out of their education were the ones who could manage to do the work they found not to their liking all the time, which, frankly, will turn out to be a good deal of what they’re asked to do. They were the ones who realized that they didn’t have to like what they read or the exercises they had to do, so much as be able to understand it and apply what they learned.

And, most significantly to my mind, they were most often the ones who realized that the key to a good college education was often tied to the ability to stretch their mind by learning and doing things that are outside of the things they are comfortable or just like to do. Their answers were uniformly more thoughtful and creative, and more often showed a greater degree of insight and interest in the world around them. In group work, they were the problem solvers and leaders.  They were doing the drudge work, but making the effort to see how it could benefit them beyond the grade in the classroom.  The benefit to them is not only in terms of the material they learned, but also the active practice of discipline.

On a different more existential level, one of the reasons literature is assigned–in both history *and* in English classes–is because as a human being our individual experiences are self-limiting based on what shape our lives have. Reading literature is a way to learn about the human experience, through facing problems and loves and fears and dreams that we may never experience directly ourselves. Relating to a character or not can sometimes provide guidance as to who we are and what we value most about ourselves and our larger world.  Through reading, we can learn compassion and empathy, and also how to distance ourselves emotionally from characters that disturb us.  We learn to think about why we are drawn to some things and not others.  We learn who we are.  By reading things we’d otherwise not expose ourselves to, we stretch ourselves in new ways. So.  That’s why I think summer reading is necessary and important.

* I use the word “apology” in the sense of the ancient Greek ἀπολογία (literally “apologia”), which was first used as a literary device by Plato in the 4th c. BCE: It means to make a defense of your beliefs through the systematic use of information.

Come join me tomorrow!

Come join me tomorrow for a Bernina Webinar, where I talk about what I think about when I work out how I’m going to quilt a top!   This is a quilting design discussion, and applicable to domestic or longarm machines. Denise will also be talking about the QuiltMotion later in the show.

You do need to register in advance, but there are three different times you can attend.  Should be fun and informative!  Happy quilting, y’all.

Simple tip today: label your fabric

So I’ve been working with lots and lots of fabrics lately, some bundled and some not. Some of my choices are quite close in color, and some come from different collections, but need to be eventually grouped together in a project.  I like to prewash, so colors that are similar all get washed together. But, yeah.  You can see how this might be a problem, breaking up groups.  Or remembering quickly which is which.  Hrmph.

So here it is.  The should-have-done-this-sooner tip.

Write the name on the darn selvedge before washing.  That's it.  Then write the name on it again, if you cut it off.

Write the name on the darn selvedge with permanent ink before washing. That’s it. Then write the name on it again, if you cut it off.

Seriously.  *facepalm*

I’m off to go do this with all my various shades of white and not-white, including company name.  Some of them are awfully close.  While I liked the final look of the white and snow together well enough to incorporate it into many more quilts (this quilt is maybe 3 or 4 years old?), sometimes you don’t actually want that.  If, like me, you work in sometimes less than ideal lighting conditions, then knowing what’s what can make a hell of a difference.

Your Quilting Business: Do You Need a Media Kit?

One of the things that turned up several times in the comment thread for “The Problem With Free Milk: Giving Away Your Quilt Work”, was how to present yourself and your business as a bona fide business, and there was some discussion in the comments about media kits, what they were, and how they are used.

Sam Hunter at Hunter’s Design Studio has been working on her We are $ew Worth It campaign, and has been collecting resources to that end.  In Sam’s new post  We Are $ew Worth It Resources: Press Kits, she talks about the press kit she is putting together for a book event she is doing at Powell’s, and what she is and is not including.  It got me to thinking about what I would want to include, and how I would present it, both online and in print.  It most certainly wouldn’t be a static object, done once and never touched again.

If you have one, would you be willing to share your experiences in the comments here or over at Sam’s blog?  It would be much appreciated!

OK.  My deadline is in 2 1/2 weeks, and I have to put nose back to the grindstone.  Happy Quilting, friends!

How did I miss this Quilty-type fashion?

Well, honestly.  How did I miss this dress?  I kind of love it.  Granted, I don’t watch TV so I have no idea who the lady is (Apparently shes on Revenge,and her name is Ashley Madekwe), but I do love her dress.  It’s Monique L’Huillier, deconstructed black and white houndstooth.

(I don’t have rights to the image, which is why I am not posting it on my blog. That’s why I don’t post any of these kinds of pics, actually.  Sorry!)

Memories of the World Cup, 2001

In 2001, I spent the summer studying ceramics at the American Academy in Rome (specifically, I was studying Terra Sigillata from a site located on the Palatine Hill).  On occasion, the group of fellow analysts would take weekend trips to places, to see the ancient sites and collect information for future lectures and classes we were thinking of offering.

On weekend, we decided to go to Florence.  We left from Termini in Rome, and arrived in the mid afternoon, the same day Ethiopia was playing in the World Cup for the first time ever.  A little background: migrant workers from Africa and elsewhere are brought in (usually by mafia types and many from Ethiopia in particular) to sell knock off goods on the streets throughout the country.  It’s cheap labor, there aren’t many restrictions, and the lure of a better chance at life brings many hopefuls and refugees to Italy.  On the day we arrived in Florence, all of the TVs that usually displayed train schedules had been co-opted and turned to show the World Cup, where Ethiopia was playing, and every TV had a group of people around it, Italians, Africans from Ethiopia and elsewhere, tourists, kids, adults, you name it.  It was a cross-section of the city, right there.

We glanced at the screen, and then headed for the Duomo.  I hadn’t been to Florence, and wanted to see the square and have a coffee before we met up with the others.  As we were sitting there, at a table in the square across from this, I heard a faint sound way off to my left, almost like drums.  In a few more seconds, I heard the sound of drums for certain, this time to my right.  Then, louder and louder from both sides, I heard this jubilant singing and drum playing, clearly getting closer to the central square.

I will never forget, in that moment, seeing in the clear afternoon light, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in the background, the ecstatic faces celebrating Ethiopia’s win, celebrating the fact that this country, predicted to be knocked out in the first round, was still there and still fighting, and dammit, they’d won.   These men, and they were almost entirely men, were dancing the dances they’d been taught growing up, playing drums they had brought from home, and some playing whatever else they got their hands on.  Those of us who were there were clapping and cheering and sharing that moment of triumph and happiness with them as, draped in flags, decked out in every scrap of red, green, and yellow that could be found, they celebrated that they, too, mattered on this world stage.

Are you going to QuiltCon?

Y’all. Are you going to QuiltCon?  I will be there, and hopefully some of my quilts will be, too, both my own and ones I’ve quilted for others!

However, did you know that if you’re a member, you get a discount for the things you sign up for?  JUNE 13 is the last day to become an individual member and still receive the discount.  If your’e a member of your local Modern Quilt Guild, then the guild cutoff is JUNE 16.  Just a heads up :)


OK.  Back to book writin’.