Saturday, April 5, 2014

Using a Hera Marker to Mark Fabric for Hand Printing

The hera marker is a handy little tool you don't hear much about. It's best known use is for marking quilts for quilting. You know, the decorative stitched lines that go all over the surface to hold the layers together and create texture. I learned about it at a quilting class I took over a year ago. I have yet to make a quilt, but I have found a lot of great uses for this marker. I use it often when I am sewing and need to create a hem or finished  (turned under) edge. Indispensable when making mitered cornered napkins and placemats! But the big light-bulb-moment for me was when I realized this could be a great tool for marking fabric for hand-printing. When you can't see guide marks placed under your fabric as in my first simple printing tutorial, you need some other way to mark your fabric. Unfortunately, most of the fabric markers out there do not wash out after being ironed and the fabric paints all need to be heat set (ironed) before washing. What a dilemma! 

So, what we need is to be able to make a mark that can be ironed and then washed out. I have found that the hera marker does not really iron out but it does wash out after ironing. Very important to test your fabric because some fibers that are creased remain more or less permanently damaged. Here I am in the photo above, preparing to do a test on a small swatch of handkerchief weight linen. I will make the crease along the edge of the ruler in both the horizontal and vertical directions. You can see that the sharp edge of my marker has gotten a little grey from use. At least that makes it clear, visually, which edge you should be using!

You can just barely see the creased marks on the swatch above. It is more visible in person and with the proper lighting conditions. You may need to run the marker over the line another time to get a good crease.  Experiment and see what works for you. 

Although the creased lines are very faint, it's just enough to position your block. Look closely and you can see how the creased lines are lined up with the registration marks I have made on my wooden stamp mount. This is even easier to see with a gridded acrylic block and clear stamps.

Ta da! Here we have our printed motif lined up with the hera marker creases. We can now iron this little swatch to set the paint and then more completely remove the creased marks with water.

It was beginning to get a little too hard to photograph the marks on my smaller test square, so I'll just continue the demonstration with this one. This is the back of a printed piece of linen and you can see the print coming through from the other side. The printing became damaged in a few areas so it is now a test swatch!  Ignore the faintly printed image and focus on those creased lines right in the middle.

Here are the lines after ironing. Still slightly visible in some areas. 

You don't really need to go to the trouble of washing the whole swatch. Just spray it with water, then iron.

Yay! After spritzing and ironing, the lines are no longer visible. 

Always test your fabric first! 

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