Wintergreen Dream – Copyright 2020 – Tourmaline & Thyme Quilts

Unless you are making a whole cloth quilt or simply putting precuts together, you are most likely marking and/or measuring your quilt for cutting, sewing or quilting. This is a step most people don’t think too much about.


When measuring, there are a few things to remember.

First, do not include your selvedge when you measure fabric width. You will need to remove the selvedge as it has a different weave, to prevent fraying, than the rest of the fabric.

Measure primarily from your ruler rather than your mat. The ruler is more accurate.  Granted with larger cuts, this may not be possible, unless you have larger rulers or tapes. Personally, I have a 48-inch metal ruler from the hardware store that I use for longer cuts. It works really well for panel quilts. 🙂

How do you measure your fabric? By that I mean, when you look at the line, are you reading on the line or just to one side or the other? It shouldn’t matter as long as you are consistent. I prefer to measure just past the line as it gives me a thread or two for margin.

When tracing, make sure to cut inside the line as the tracing adds a few threads.

If you are going to make cut multiple fabrics to the same size, you can layer fabrics, but not too many. Each layer you add will decrease your accuracy just a smidgeon.

If you are going to be making multiple cuts on the same fabric(s), add a strong visual or physical aid you your ruler. Put washi tape or painter’s tape at your measuring mark on the ruler. That will ensure you line up to the same point each time. I can tell you I have been frustrated before when I have a piece or two that are giving me fits because I misread the ruler. The other option is to layer painter’s tape or other removable layer underneath the rule at your measuring mark. This layers act as a guard that butts against the edge of the fabric to stabilize your cuts.

Speaking of stabilizing, use a non-stick grips or weights to keep the ruler from moving during cutting. Also, inch your fingers along the ruler, with a pinky touching the mat, to keep the ruler “grounded”, which prevents shifting.

Check out this video for a demonstration.


Not all measuring is for cutting. Sometimes, it is to mark seams, midpoints, etc.

The first thing you need to decide is if the mark is going to be on the right side or wrong side of the fabric. If it is on the wrong side, you don’t need to worry as much about erasing the mark after use. You do want to make sure the marking doesn’t run though. So, sharpies and permanent markers are generally not good choices.

If the marking is needs to be on the front of the fabric, chances are you will need to be able to remove it after use. This is where testing the marking is important. Test the marking beforehand on a piece of similar scrap material. Does the test show up well? Does it erase easily? How long does the mark last?

One of the easiest marks to use is a pressing line. Fold a piece of fabric in half. Then, finger press it or use an iron to mark the middle of the piece. Later, you iron the mark out. Easy peasy.

A similar method is a hera marker. This is a pointed edge that is used to make a crease in the fabric as a mark. It works much like the pressing line but can be used for more intricate patterns.

Some people even use painter’s tape on fabric to mark quilting or sewing lines.

A ball point pen or pencil works well for marking diagonal lines to make half square triangles two at a time or flying geese four at a time. In these cases, you are cutting on the line, so any residue should be cut off or hidden by the seam allowance.

Then, there are “removable” marking implements like chalk, air erase markers, water soluble markers, heat erase markers, etc.  In theory, all of these can be removed in time, but they don’t always disappear the way you would expect. Some of that is due to the other chemicals on the fabric, time or just plain bad luck. That is why testing is so important.

  • Chalk works well for temporary markings but can easily smudge. You need to work carefully around it and not move the fabric too much after applying it. Chalk typically washes well out of fabric. Colored chalks may be more difficult to remove than plain white chalk. Chalk can be a stick or powder for pouncing. It has been reported that a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water helps to remove chalk lines.
  • Water soluble markers work well on most fabrics. Steam may set these markers, so exercise caution. Spritzing may remove the markers, but some require submersion for a period of time to completely erase them. When using water soluble markers, make sure that your fabric and other embellishments won’t bleed.
  • Air soluble markers also can be set with heat, so be careful. These markers tend not to last too long. So, mark small areas at a time. It is really annoying to spend lots of time marking only to have it evaporate before you can use it!
  • Heat erase markers can be the bees knees, except they may not disappear as permanently as you think. For heat erase markers, the true test is to mark the fabric, heat it for removal and then place the fabric in the freezer to see if it reappears!

With so many marking options, there is sure to be one that will fit your needs. Just remember to test it first.

Happy Quilting!