Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marking tips

As I marked the remaining two blocks in my cutwork series, it occurred to me that there are several marking tips I haven't shared with you yet. The very nature of fabric (stretchy and unstable) creates a bit of a problem when you draw the tip of a pen or pencil over it. One of the earliest suggestions I ran across to help negate this problem was to lay the fabric over a sandpaper board especially designed for the purpose. These were expensive and a little hard to track down at the time, so an alternate suggestion was to glue a very fine grit sandpaper to the inside of a file folder - instant grippy surface easy to store and transport! In the meantime, I've discovered some other strategies that work well and take advantage of things you probably have on hand.

First, just the surface of a cutting mat may grip the fabric better than the surface of a table or desk. Layering over another piece of fabric also helps improve grip. My favorite, though, is to use the backside of a square-up ruler to which Omnigrid Invisi-Grip has been applied. Invisi-Grip is a clear plastic material a little like vinyl that sticks to the ruler without benefit of any adhesive. In turn, it keeps the ruler from sliding around on your fabric as you run your rotory cutter along the ruler's edge. So naturally, the Invisi-Grip will keep the fabric you are marking from sliding around as well.

Another useful stabilizer for fabric is...freezer paper! I wouldn't necessarily use this strategy here, but I have used it, ironed it to the wrong side of fabric, when I wanted to write text, say to make a label. An added advantage is that you can draw lines on the dull size of the freezer paper to act as guides for text placement. I've even printed my text in reverse on freezer paper so that, with the help of a lightbox, I can just trace the letters onto the fabric (as in this post).

In the picture above, I also show a great aid for marking circles - a circle template. These can be purchased at office or art supply stores as well as some quilt shops and have many sizes of circles cut into a single template. Just choose the right size and run your marker around the hole.

And now for an applique tip I know I forgot to mention. When you have sections of a design that will be done as reverse applique, cut a small slit in the center of the area that will be cut away BEFORE you layer it with the background fabric. Although if you are careful, you can pull apart the two layers enough to make a small snip when you are ready to applique the section, there's always the chance you might slip and cut through the background as well. Sad sad day if that happens after hours of stitching on your block. Easier to make the little snips in advance.

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