I recently was contacted to embroider quilt blocks for bridesmaids gifts and hit a snag. I’m here to tell you ‘don’t make this mistake’ that almost had me in tears. Years ago I purchased the Dritz 3095 Chalk Cartridge Set (affiliate link) and have used it a few times, but mostly the white chalk. I used the pink on black fabric a time or two, but had no issues.
After a little bit of worry and lots of prep I got everything set up to embroider the three quilt blocks. I wanted them to be perfect because not only were they all for a customer, they were going to be very special gifts. I pulled out the Dritz chalk pencil and picked the yellow to use on the beautiful piece of light quilting cotton the customer selected for the inner square of her quilt. It all seemed innocent enough. And then it went horribly wrong. The yellow wouldn’t come off. At. All.
I tried everything. I Googled. I asked people. And yet – the yellow was here to stay. Google was full of horror stories that I wish I had read in advance. Not to mention this was the ONE TIME I didn’t test it on a scrap piece of fabric first. I mean, I had used the pink before so I thought I was safe. I was in a complete panic when I realized the yellow was not coming off. I had only a couple of scrap pieces the customer had provided to me so I could do test stitchouts to see how the fabric would react to the embroidery, for sizing, and color. The test came out great and I thought I was ready to go.
I tried a few things I heard might get the yellow out by marking up my original test stitchout fabric. None of the items I tried worked. I tried a mixture of white vinegar and water, Dawn dish soap and water, as well as Oxyclean. All of these things have worked on a variety of other marks I’ve needed to get out of fabric in the past, but the yellow chalk didn’t budge at all. As you can see by the fabric – all that happened was a water stain where I tried to remove the chalk.
I confirmed the stitch direction with the customer to ensure it was following the the pattern of the fabrics she selected. I should point out, that in a lot of cases when customers request a monogram for a quilt they are making, they give me only the square to monogram and then sew it to the other fabrics when I return it to them. If you are working with someone to monogram a quilt square for you it’s best to give the embroidered a square that is larger than the one you need. For example, if your final square will be 14×14 provide a square that is 16×16. Due to the density of the stitching there wil be a little pull and it will allow you to sew it to your other fabrics and to trim the fabric after sewing to ensure the perfect fit.
Once the test stitchout was done and the direction of the monogram confirmed, I did the one thing that almost put me in tears in the corner of my sewing room. The dreaded yellow chalk marks. The doom! Worse yet, I had one piece of scrap left and I have never made a quilt like this. I once made a quilt with pre-cut fabric squares, but this is not the same as trying to replace the inner square of an already pieced quilt top that is someone else’s beautiful work.
Diana from Fabricate Studios to my rescue! Diana is their quilting instructor and she makes amazing quilts that have won awards. I messaged her late on Saturday night, the night before I planned to deliver all three finished monogrammed quilt tops, and she graciously agreed to meet me before her sewing class Sunday morning to help me fix and replace the inner square. She helped me mark it, cut it and even finished sewing it for me to ensure it was just right! I went home, did the last of the three monograms and delivered all three completed pieces Sunday afternoon. I admitted my mistake and error to the customer. She was extremely nice about it and loved the monograms. I am hoping she will share pictures of the final quilts with me because I just know they are going to be beautiful!
This is a glimpse of the quilt blocks prior to delivering them as well as the folded fabric so you can see the colors and patterns she chose.
What markers or chalk do you use for marking up fabrics when you sew? Do you have any tips or tricks to ensure it doesn’t stain your fabric?