Don’t be afraid of the blue washout marker!

Have you been told by your quilting friends never to use that blue washout marker? Or worse, tried it on your quilt, and then couldn’t get the marks out?? I was gulled into that trap by the bad publicity these markers were getting some years back, too. Now the blue marker is one of my favorite marking tools, and here’s why:The reason these markers were getting such a bad rap is because people were using them incorrectly, and therefore they were not performing as advertised. To use these markers safely to mark your quilts follow the instructions included with the marker EXACTLY. This means:

  • you must not add any kind of heat to the fabric after it has been marked, i.e. no ironing, no leaving the quilt in a hot car in summer, or to near a radiator or other heat source in the winter. Heat can set the marks permanently.
  • Don’t leave the marks in your quilt for years. The longer the marks are on the fabric, the more difficult they are to remove, and the more things that can happen to the quilt in the meantime (see above).
  • If you are working on a quilt that will not be finished quickly, mark only a portion of the quilt, then quilt the lines and remove the marks immediately.
  • Even if you’ve marked the whole top before basting, remove the marks as you quilt each section or block.
  • To remove the marks, use a spray bottle filled with clean, cool water, with NOTHING added. No soap, vinegar, or anything else, just water.
  • When you are ready to give the quilt it’s first washing, do a pre-wash in cold water with NO LAUNDRY SOAP, or quilt soap, or whatever you use. Any kind of soap can set the marks permanently, or cause them to fade initially but return later as ugly brown marks behind your quilting. If you do a pre-wash in plain cold water, the marks are removed before the soap gets to them.

I’ve used the blue washout markers successfully by following the above guidelines. Give them a try. They are perfect for marking intricate designs since they come in a regular size and a fine point version. Of course, do pretest them on the fabrics in your quilt, since all fabrics and dyes differ. To give credit where it’s due, I tried them again after reading Diane Gaudynski’s book, Guide to Machine Quilting. She’s wonderful by the way, and her book is a must for any serious machine quilter.

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