Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Could it Get Any Worse?

My first 2019 blog post was about a bumbling start with 2019 with a quilt design faux pax. Well, I'm sad to say that it was only the beginning of a rough quilting-related start to 2019.

I decided to spend Saturday prepping quilts for upcoming shows. Quilting Guild of The Villages has its local show on January 25-26, and for my two entries I needed to make custom-made bags labeled with personal info and the quilt number. I also have three quilts to ready, and paperwork to complete, to ship to Austin, Texas by January 24 for QuiltCon in Nashville.

So I went over my quilts with a fine-tooth comb, so to speak - burying and clipping random threads, running a lint-roller over fabric, and generally making sure each quilt was pristine. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I had some light white quilting marks on "Roulette" from using a Clover white marking pen - I thought. (Read on. Clover white marking pens are great!)
"Roulette," accepted into QuiltCon
After pressing to steam-heat remove the quilt marks, the marks did not come out, as expected from a Clover white marking pen that erases with water.

I decided to created a test sample using the same Kona Silver and same white marking pen.

I couldn't get the marks out after trying Dawn dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, salt, S-23 stain remover, Norwex laundry soap, and even a Mr. Clean Eraser - many of these suggestions coming from commenters to my Instagram post about it.
The quilt, after being immersed in water.
As it was Saturday, I sent an email to Clover, questioning what I did wrong with their white marking pen. Or could I have a defective pen?

Monday I called Clover (Ontario, California), and Connie in customer service was very helpful. She said that the heat from the dryer - several months ago when the quilt was completed, I had wet and partially tumbled dry the quilt - probably set the white marker. She said to make a spray of two parts white vinegar and five parts water, spray the quilt and let it sit. If the marks didn't come out, add baking soda to the solution to make a paste.

It was at that point that I decided to make another test sample of fabric to work on.... and noticed this about the two pens in my tool chest. Top half picture: They are identical!

Bottom half picture: The pen contents are completely different!

I believe I mistakenly grabbed the upper pen, marking some quilting designs with a Sakura Gelly Roll pen, a permanent white marking pen, used to make quilt labels!

How totally embarrassing.

Because I needed to be honest, and as painful as it was to admit fault, on Instagram I publicly apologized to Clover. And I do so here as well.

I am ashamed. Devastated. And heartbroken because I cannot knowingly submit a quilt to QuiltCon with these permanent marks, however unnoticeable they may seem.

From two feet away, the quilt looks fabulous!

But under the scrutiny of a judge, perhaps using a magnifying glass, Roulette would not stand the test. Those white lines can clearly be seen.

Since realizing that these white marks are from a permanent pen, I have used the test sample piece to try removing ink with lighter fluid, hair spray, and acetone. Nothing touches it.

So I will, with great disappointment, withdraw Roulette from QuiltCon. And still be grateful that I have two other quilts in the show.

By the way...  I thought I kept my quilt markers separate from permanent marking pens. All my other Gelly Roll pens are in a plastic container in the closet! I cannot remember when or how the white Gelly Roll pen may have gotten mixed-in with my quilt-marking pens. It doesn't matter now.

This is humiliating to share with blog readers, but I do so in the hope that you will be very careful to not let this happen to you. Double-check what pen you grab for a particular task. Linda


  1. Oh bless your heart! That takes a lot of guts to testify to making a mistake. I'm so sorry that misidentification of pens happened to you. :( That is soooo sad. That quilt is one my very favorite ones that you've made too. Do you have the heart to make another one or will you just chalk that up to life and move on?

  2. Oh, my. However...I would immediately take down your post, your IG, and send it off to QuiltCon anyway. I think you notice more than anyone, and I've seen quilt there with much much worse issues. That's just my .02. It's still a fabulous quilt!

  3. I love your quilt, think it's gorgeous. If it were me, I would enter anyway as I know people will love seeing it. I made a similar mistake on one of my quilts where I was using a blue water soluble pen, and picked up a regular blue marker in the same color of pen., so I know your pain.

  4. Good for you for owning up to your mistake and letting Clover off the hook. There are definitely people that will not make the same mistake!
    As for your quilt, I would go ahead and enter it, what do you have to lose?

  5. Oh what a terrible thing to happen so early in the year. I know you are heartbroken, but I agree with others that you should enter it anyway. I saw a much worse problem with a winning quilt at Paducah one year. I thank you for explaining the error and reminding us all to be more careful.

  6. I am so sorry about what happened, but you know it is still a beautiful creation and even if you decide to take it out of QuiltCon you should definitely enter it in other shows and make no mention of the marking issue. It may be overlooked completely! We are always our own worst quilt police! But it is a warning to all of us about marking tools, and especially ironing over them before they are washed out completely.

  7. You must be absolutely gutted Linda! I would enter it too, because it definitely deserves to be seen.

  8. Thank you for sharing this painful learning experience. I think you should notify the other company so they could consider changing their pen sytle or add coloring to the style. I wonder if they would have any suggestion on what you might try to remove the ink. I think you should submit the quilt and perhaps add a note about the pens. You have provided an excellent service to all of us. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary! (You're a "no-reply commentor," so I couldn't respond to you by email.) Well, it really isn't the manufacturer's problem, is it? Both companies are likely getting a great price on bulk orders of ink barrels. I cannot fathom that my lone opinion will influence either of company, though, Clover is aware! They've followed my Instagram account through my trials with this. Sakura's website says that their Gelly Roll pen is not meant for fabric, just for use with archival documents. So there's no help from that quarter either. Their stance is similar to what the Pilot company says about their Frixion pens - they aren't meant to be used on fabric. In any case, I'm glad I've brought this to a few people's attention. If I've managed to influence one person to double-check their ink barrels, then I'm glad.

  9. Linda, I'm so sorry how the story ended with you withdrawing your amazing quilt from QuiltCon. It's hard to believe the pen housings are identical.

  10. I think I would enter it anyway. Collectors are always buying quilts with the pencil marks still on them from the early 20th century. I never noticed it on the many photos you have taken in the past so I wonder how noticeable it is when not pointed out. I have loved your unique design from the very beginning of the process and feel that is what matters - for people to see the design regardless of how it is judged. I know you will do what you are comfortable with but participation gets my vote too.

    1. Hi Laura! You're a no-reply commentor, so I hope you read my response here. I'm afraid I've burnt that bridge. I've already notified the MQG to withdraw my quilt from QuiltCon... though I haven't yet received a response. Still, I cannot in good conscience submit a quilt that doesn't reflect my best work. Viewers might notice, and certainly a judge WOULD notice. I guess that's where I'm conflicted... my pride, at wanting only my best work to be seen, warring with my pride in wanting to share this quilt design. It's not an easy place to be.

  11. Oh my gosh, Linda! You certainly turned yourself inside out trying to rectify this. And a permanent gelli pen of all things! I'm in the camp of entering the quilt, flaws and all. Perhaps the slightly visible mark won't allow it to earn a ribbon, but the jurists thought the quilt was worth exhibiting and Quilt Con visitors are there to see wonderful design, which is what this is. And you never know what flaws the other quilts in your category will have, so it may stack up better than you anticipate.

  12. I'm so sorry about what happened, but please focus on all the marvelous quilts you have made and all your wonderful accomplishments. I am in agreement with those who encouraged you to enter it. I would go ahead as well. Nothing is ever perfect and the quilt is so wonderful it would be shame not to share it and let other quilters be inspired.

  13. Just enter it already! It is a very cool quilt.
    Stuff happens.
    I am probably too absent minded to keep track of different pens and would be creating disasters daily.
    Your quilt is really inspiring

  14. Crap this is scary. I am just beginning to do quilts for customers and let's face it, most of the times, you just need to mark. Now you've scared me even more as I'm from Africa where no-one ever guarantees anything. I don't know what the quality of my markers are or even where to even find their suppliers/ makers.

    1. Hi Hettie! (You're a no-reply commenter, so I hope you see my response here.) Yes, most quilts need to be marked for quilting. The first thing I like to turn to is a Hera marker, which only makes a crease in the fabric. And I do try to use brand name products. I hope yours have manufacturer's names on them, so you can verify that what you're working with is reliable. I'm sorry if you're having to deal with the unknown.

  15. I'm so sorry but Yes it is a lesson learned for you and other quilters.


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