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Quilting With No Marks

Today, there are two ways to express your quilting art – with your hands or with a modern machine. Whichever way, the finished art produced is more important than the answer to the debate about which way produces more beautiful quilts.

For machine quilters, there are still some technical problems that have to be addressed. One of them is doing your quilt all the way to the finish without any marks on it.

This means not using any chalk, water-soluble markers or any pen that risks the chance of ruining your delicate quilting fabric.

Marking template

To make a no-mark template, choose a continuous-line design that is perfect for your project. Enlarge or reduce your design taking care of leaving at least a half-inch of margin around the edges.

Here’s a tip on how to compute the scale factor for use in photocopying your design. Simply divide the desired length or width of the design by its actual length or width.

With the sum, you multiply it by 100 to get the percentage of enlargement (or reduction) of the design. Take note that the enlargement (or reduction) of your design automatically alters the other dimensions of the design.

The next step is to trace your quilting pattern on a stabilizer paper. Simply pin the paper onto your project and machine-quilt through it.

This method is for all types of continuous-line patterns, repeating or not. It is right for any quilting project: bed or wall quilts, pillows, table runners, etc. This technique is even usable on embellishing ready-to-wear garments.

Pattern play

Positioning the templates on the quilts may need some decisions. Generally, you can move the templates around until you like the placement.

Once you are satisfied, mark the templates accordingly so you will remember the exact position. Then, pin (or tape) the template one at a time and stitch. It is best to work segment by segment to avoid confusion and catching the paper.

Template paper

Get any lightweight vellum-type tracing paper from any office supply store. (Wax paper from groceries will also work.)

Vellum paper is good because it is sheer enough to see through, tears away easily from the stitches, and not much to clean up after. Use a permanent pen on the paper to avoid the chance of staining your fabric in case the needle hits the pattern and stains itself and brings it to your fabric.

For smaller projects, simply trace the design onto a laid-out design on a single template cut matching the pattern piece. For embellishments, or stitching on ready-to-wear garments, sew the designs from the garment’s wrong side using the template reversed.


When quilting, start out from the center and work your way out to the border. If it is a whole cloth design, break it down into segments and work your way segment by segment, placing a template on each segment and stitch.

After you finish each section, remove the templates. It is easy to remove perforated stabilizers. The vellum paper is brittle enough to be scratched away with finger nails without damaging a thread.

After you finished your quilting, take some time off to examine your finished quilt from all sides and angles to check for marks, stray threads or other stuff that don’t belong. You can also congratulate yourself for a job well done.


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A Brief History Of Quilting
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Practical Tips For Machine Quilting
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Quilting With No Marks

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Quilting With No Marks Quilting image

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