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Thread: Marking an original design on a dark colored top for longarm quilting

  1. #1
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Marking an original design on a dark colored top for longarm quilting

    I mark most of my designs out. While it isn't my favorite thing to do, I take the time to do it to get the look I want and maintain some continuity throughout the design. Here is a quick tute on how I go about marking the dark fabric in my top. This is only one way of many that it can be achieved.

    For this particular method, first thing I do is starch and press my top. the starch acts as kind of a film on the fabric which makes removing marks easier.

    I draw out my design actual size. This was my first conception, a drawing based on the famous 19th century Japanese woodblock by Hokusai called the Great Wave of Kanagawa
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    This ended up being too complex and lifelike for the quilt so I modified it to be more stylized and fill in the background more. I draw on tracing paper so I can see through it for placement on the quilt. I usually make several copies because the transfer process ends up ruining the paper. The stylus gouges into it and tears it due to going over the same lines repeatedly:
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    I use wax free white transfer paper and a stylus to transfer the drawing to the top. I do this on a hard surface before loading. I used the table on the back of my LA where pantos go to do the marking. You can find this transfer paper at artist supply stores or on line. (for light fabric I would use Saral graphite paper). You can use a sheet over and over before it quits transferring.
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    Here is the drawing placed on the quilt with the transfer paper underneath. I go over every line with the stylus to transfer:
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    Here is the transferred drawing. As you can see the lines are very faint and hard to see:
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    So I go over it with a chalk pencil in white. I picked this one up at an artist supply store and really like it.
    See how much easier the lines are to see
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    This design is going in the border of my quilt. It took approximately 4 1/2 hours to mark the entire border of a 94 x 106 quilt with a 10" wide border using this process. It is time well spent IMHO. Now I can load the quilt and start quilting. The bonus of tracing this design so many times on my top I now have a muscle memory for the design and have kind of figured out a thread path for continuous quilting (with some back tracking and echoing thrown in).

    Here is the design all quilted out:
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    I don't stress about staying exactly on the line, in fact in many places the line was simply a guide to help me quilt the waves out. Most of the chalk and transfer lines brush out with a towel. The remainder will wash out. I will make sure to post the whole quilt when it is done.

    Hope this helps people with ideas on marking a quilt.

  2. #2
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Great tutorial and that's one of my favorite woodblock pictures.

  3. #3
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    South West Ontario
    That is a wonderful demonstration/explanation - and you make it sound so easy - your work is amazing.
    A husband is the perfect confidant to tell your secrets to - he can't reveal them to anyone else because he wasn't really listening when you told him!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    N.E. England
    Thank you for this, your design and quilting look amazing.

  5. #5
    Super Member DebbieJJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    north Alabama
    Quote Originally Posted by GEMRM View Post
    That is a wonderful demonstration/explanation - and you make it sound so easy - your work is amazing.
    My thoughts exactly! And people wonder why it costs so much to have a quilt LA quilted! (me included, until I bought a short-arm and started doing my own quilts, and I am still in the learning stage after 4 yrs!)
    A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. ~Hugh Downs
    Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns.I am thankful that thorns have roses.~Allophones Karr
    “The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others." — Gordon B Hinckley

    "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." ~ Confucius

  6. #6
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    Beautiful workmanship! I have used the same method, but used a dressmakers transfer wheel with the spiked wheel so my lines were dotted instead of solid. My design wasn't nearly as intricate as yours so I was able to follow the dots, which probably would be more difficult with a complex design like you used. Can't wait to see the finished quilt.
    Shirley in Arizona

  7. #7
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    on the Texas Coast
    do you have any trouble with your markings distorting from moving the top around on the frame?

  8. #8
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Tartan, I know isn't that print the most amazing thing. I love it and all the variations of it that have cropped up. When I was googling images of it I came across a SAS quilt with the wave embroidered over it! So cool. If you google images "storm at sea quilt with great wave off kanagawa" it comes right up. You should try and get your hands on the book "Hodusai's Mount Fuji, The Complete Views in Color" by Jocelyn Bouquillard. It has the Wave and tons of other very cool woodcuts he did all featuring Mt Fuji with author's commentary. See if your library can get it for you. I keep threatening my DH that we will trek down to the City and see one of the original prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Kathy, I have not experienced any distortion of the marks on any quilt when I mark like this and I have done it on several. sometimes a bit of smudging towards the end from the quilt being rolled up but never so badly that I still couldn't follow the mark.

  9. #9
    Super Member sweet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    playing with fabric in Louisiana
    WOW! Beautiful....

  10. #10
    Super Member
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    Oct 2011
    dallas tx.
    Blog Entries
    Oh my Goodness. This is a beauty like I have never seen. I couldn't live long enough to do this. I love it. You are a wonder.

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