Friday, 15 July 2011

New Favourite Tool - Trial Quilting Sheets

A few weeks ago, Lynette from What a Hoot! had a post about using what she calls "Trial Sheets" to test out quilting patterns on your quilts. I always have a hard time visualizing what the quilting is going to look like on the quilt so when I saw her tool, I felt like yelling, "Eureka!" (I didn't though ;) ). Well, I tried it out myself with Project Y and I love it!

So here's what I did. I picked two of the thinest and cheapest acrylic sheets there were at Home Depot - one 11" by 14" and one 24" by 48". I may go and get a larger size down the road, but I think these will do just fine for now. Lynette bought some of those nice duct tapes to 'bind' her acrylic sheets (so the edges don't snag the quilt). She then cut the duct tape lengthwise down the middle so that it made a thin binding around the edge of the acrylic sheets. When I went into our workshop to get our duct tape though, I saw that we had some fun yellow electrical tape that was about 3/4" wide. Perfect! This way, I wouldn't have to cut it lengthwise to make it thinner. It took maybe 10 minutes to tape up the sides of the acrylic with Daniel's 'help'.

I already had some dry erase markers in red, blue, black and green so Daniel and I had fun testing out the markers on the acrylic sheets and then wiping it off. It worked perfectly! No residue left on the acrylic and no damage to the quilt. Yay! 

It was fun to doodle on different parts of the quilt to see whether stippling, straight quilting or some other design would look good. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the red marker seemed to show up the best, but perhaps that was just with this quilt. And the best thing about this is that if you don't like it the design, simply wipe it off with some paper towel. No seam ripper needed! In my book, anything that helps me avoid having to use the seam ripper is fabulous. This is also a good way to practice the design you are going to do and build up that muscle memory.

Here are some of the results of our test (sorry about the quality of the pictures - the flash reflected off the acrylic sheet too much):

Not convinced that I liked this...

So I tried this...

Hmm, still not convinced. I guess I'll be playing around some more with this one.

And look how it looks when you take it off the quilt. Fun, eh? If you flip it over, it gives you an idea of what the quilting will look like on the back of the quilt. You could use this as a reference tool when you are quilting too. I wouldn't leave the dry erase marker on too long though. I suspect they would leave a mark, if left on for more than a couple of days.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Be careful when wiping off close to the edges of the acrylic sheet while it's on the quilt so that marker dust doesn't get on the quilt.
  • I also wouldn't use wet erase markers, in case you wipe off with a wet towel and it drips on your quilt.

I'm still having fun playing with this new tool, but it has already become one of my favourites. Will I use it for every quilt? Probably not, but I'll definitely be using for any quilts on which I want to use multiple quilting designs. It's much easier to wipe off a design that isn't working than rip out stitches. Did I mention how much I hate having to use the seam ripper? ;)


  1. Looks like fun! I use to use dry erase on clear sheets to help my kids with their printing skills. My kids had trouble printing and writing but other language skills were way beyond their age.

    These sheets would be great for helping you practice drawing for free motion - they say to practice designs to train your brain to do them on the sewing machine.

    Great post!

  2. Wow! Look at you go with your quilting ideas. That quilt is going to be amazing when you settle on your motifs. :D


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