The Cloths of Heaven 5: it’ll all come out in the wash…

I’ve been doing some secret sewing the last couple of days. Nothing I can show right now, but it’s been good for my paper piecing skills, and you’ll see the results soon! 

Today, I got back to the Cloths of Heaven quilt. Before I sew on the border round the landscape and do an epic amount of hand lettering on it, I wanted to check how the silver metallic ink would stand up to being handled and washed. So today, I put a sample of the original Faber-Castell Metallic Marker silver ink through the washing machine. Hmmm. Not so very permanent, then. Not at all permanent, in fact. There’s only the faintest ghost of pale pigment left – see Test 1 in the image below.

ink samplesAfter a bit of online research, reading of Amazon product reviews, and testing a fairly wild gamble, I have a winner. The pen of choice is the Pentel Paint Marker in silver, an oil-based, pigment-rich marker that has to be handled quite carefully, and stored upright, but which does the job. I washed the sample in pure soap flakes and hand-warm water, cold rinse, and bingo! It survived intact. I also tested a Uniball Signo Gel Pen in silver, which didn’t make it. On top of that, I also tested all three pens with a thin layer of Mod Podge sealer over the top of the lettering, which preserved it poorly in the case of the Faber-Castell and the Uniball, but quite well in the case of the Pentel. However, it also changes the colour of the fabric behind it, dries to a rough surface and stiffens the ‘hand’ of the fabric quite noticeably, so I would not use this option unless it was the only way. I also think it would be unwise to subject the ink to the rough and tumble of a washing machine. That’s OK, this is going to be a fairly delicate piece, and handwashing is something I’d have recommended anyway.

Background optionsOnce the pen was decided, I tested it on the fabric I wanted to use. Sadly, the contrast of silver on green splotched with silvery blobs isn’t quite what I hoped for. It’s OK, but not great. So I tried a different colour, and it works much better. The border around the landscape, which will contain the poem, is going to be blue instead of green. I’ll use the green somewhere else, it’s too lovely to waste. The problem isn’t really apparent in this photo; with the light catching the silver, it disappears quite a lot into the background.

A couple of you have mentioned that I should should do something with all these test pieces, and I’ve taken your advice. I’m also creating the Book of the Quilt (as opposed to Movie!), which contains all my original sketches, notes, test pieces, stitching samples, swatches, etc. I will give it to my niece together with the quilt, so she gets some idea why the thing has taken so long!

More secret sewing tomorrow, and then I can get back to work on the Cloths of Heaven. Can’t wait – I’m loving this project!


36 thoughts on “The Cloths of Heaven 5: it’ll all come out in the wash…

  1. The result of your careful research justifies all the effort. Bravo.

    • katechiconi says:

      Can you imagine the disaster if I hadn’t checked? The first time she washed it the poem would have disappeared! This is one case where I can’t afford to assume anything. And I’m learning such a lot!

  2. claire93 says:

    you’re being very methodical with testing markers, but I guess that’s the only way. Well done for having found the solution that works!

  3. I love the idea of a quilt book and using the test pieces in something else. Good to know about the different markers. I used to paint on fabric quite a bit years ago. Hopefully, one day again. It’s so much fun to play.

  4. tialys says:

    What a great idea, to produce the book of the quilt. It will be a very interesting talking point and also a way of letting them know how much love, blood, sweat and tears went in to it – In a very subtle way of course 😉

  5. Grannymar says:

    Great idea to to gift the story book of the quilt along with it, i am sure it will be gratefully appreciated and make it all the more precious

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m starting to think I don’t want to let it go permanently, so much learning about materials and processes in there…

      • Grannymar says:

        I can understand that, perhaps the answer is to let her read it, but keep it for reference and gift it to her for as my grandniece once said… ‘afterwards’!

      • katechiconi says:

        That may be the best way. None of her generation sew or make things, so they wouldn’t find the book useful, only somewhat interesting from a process point of view. But you never know… Maybe the generation after? I have no children to leave things to, so she may as well have it once I’m no longer able to make quilts!

  6. Magpie Sue says:

    I second Lynn’s comment wholeheartedly!

  7. Debbierose says:

    Test phase. Time consuming but worth it. Well done

  8. Lynda says:

    You are so creative and your thought process and testing phases are amazing. I learn so much from you! Can’t wait to see your paper piecing as we have been discussing it so recently. 🙂

  9. rutigt says:

    A Book of the Quilt, what an interesting idea, a marvelous idea I´d say. Cause often when you give away the quilt, the new owner have now idea of all the work you put in to it. I once sew a quilt to my brother in law and even handquilted it, but all my sister can say is that it is to short to use as a bedspred !

    • katechiconi says:

      I’d definitely recommend doing it for any complex project. If you have technical issues to resolve, or experiments to make, you need to make notes and do tests, and if you don’t keep a record, sometimes the results are forgotten and the work has to be done again. Often, the new owner of one of my quilts will follow its progress online, and can see what’s involved, other times, they don’t follow the blog, and then is the time to show them the Book of the Quilt!
      I think your sister is very ungrateful, and you should ask for the quilt back… If I got a beautiful hand made quilt and it was a bit too short for my bed, I’d put it on the sofa to use when I had a nap!

  10. This whole process is very interesting! I would have never thought of trying the mod podge. Glad to see you may have found the right pen through this experimentation.

    • katechiconi says:

      I wanted to see if sealing the original ink would prevent it washing out, but instead the mod podge went white and sticky in the wash, and when it dried it was hard and rough, not at all good! There is probably something else out there which will work better, but the Pentel does the job just fine!

  11. Kirsten says:

    Secret squirrel sewing . . . intriguing!

  12. EllaDee says:

    I love the idea of the Book of the Quilt… the movie or a least a few YouTube clips would be good as well. I’m glad though in the interim between me reading and commenting you’ve decided to retain it. It will be a useful resource. Maybe you can tale some photos of the pages of the Book of the Quilt… and create a photobook of the quilt’s story with some of the text from these blog posts for your niece… yes I know… more work!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s an excellent plan, and a photobook would probably survive better than my notebook! I have taken photos at every stage so far, including many which have not featured on the blog, so I can see that route working well.

  13. I am quietly obsessed with words on fabric. Thanks for your research, it has inspired me to plot anew.

    • katechiconi says:

      One thing I didn’t point out in the post, which you’d have to watch out for, is that the oil-based ink in the Pentel Paint Marker passes through the fabric quickly and puddles on the surface underneath. I put a sheet of greaseproof paper down to work on. It’s not a big problem, the ink doesn’t bleed, but you don’t want to damage any precious woodwork! Look out for the calligraphy post in coming days; I’m getting back to the quilt today!

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