Tissue Paper Quilt Marking

I‘ve recently tried a new way to mark my quilts using tissue paper. I got the idea from a friend of mine that uses the quilters paper for quilt marking. It got me to thinking about using tissue paper as it’s thin, tears easily, and will disintegrate in water more thoroughly than regular bond paper that I’ve used in the past.

I did several different ways and finally settled upon one that works for me. This was done over two different projects, so you’ll see pics of both projects here.

First take your quilting motif and print it out on regular paper. If using a block pattern cut your sheets to size and then trace it out – I used a water soluble marker to trace out my pattern (Crayola). I didn’t have to worry about staining or permanently marking my quilt or thread. I’ve used these markers for actual quilt marking as well, but with my interest in all over designs and wanting to make it as easy as possible (and ‘cheaper’ too), I looked for alternatives to the expensive quilters paper or pre-printed continuous designs.  I first did the stitch thru a stack of sheets with the original on top – while that worked great, I found I had a hard time seeing the line of the pattern – especially with a pattern where the lines cross .. so that way isn’t an option for me.

If doing an allover quilting pattern, watch your repeats and try to keep your sheets used to a minimum – otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of overlapping sheets and that makes tearing difficult and lines could cross and you might end up missing part of your pattern.  I did find that using a larger sheet would have been easier for me – granted I wouldn’t have been able to print out the pattern on tissue paper, but it would have given me a larger piece to work with and have less layers and would have been easier to keep my pattern from climbing to the left on my first attempt.

Edited 3.14.09 – I nixed using full sheets today after trying this .. Please read “Education” for full details why.  As for your sheets overlapping .. try to not have them overlap, you can leave a bit of space and just ‘bridge’ between them – at the same time, watch that your foot doesn’t catch the edge of the tissue and tear it.  To ensure accuracy, and straight ‘tracing’, I’ll be printing out all my motifs on tissue paper now.

I used a glue stick and dabbing here and there to secure the tissue paper, but that didn’t work very well as it shifted – instead I pinned the paper down to the block going thru all layers of the quilt. Since you remove your pins / thread when you work on an area, that means that your sandwich could shift and cause puckering etc. So the pinning thru all layers just re-bastes your quilt AND secures your motif on the quilt.  When I basted this quilt, I basted each block individually – also to keep in mind that you are using a full sheet of paper, so you can’t exactly pull the pins / threads out as you go since you can’t very well see it.

Quilt as desired – I found that keeping my block flat helped a lot for the tissue not to tear while quilting. Here’s a pic of after quilting with the pins still in it.  I created a ‘tent’ of sorts with my quilt.  What was nice about this is that I didn’t have man-handle my quilt as much with all the weight when it was rolled and folded nicely – I just had the block area ‘free’ from most of the weight and that made it easier to manipulat the quilt for free motion.

Now at this point you can take your paper off, or wait until you’ve done your entire quilt. T from Fiberbabble had a great suggestion – tug diagonally gently to loosen the paper from the stitches and it works great!!

The pic on the left is of my mock up that I did in photoshop on an actual pic of this quilt, the other is of the actual quilting. Not to far off me thinks .. and I did this with my DSM and a freemotion foot. No longarm, no pantos – No Kidding!!  LOL

Mock Up Of Quliting Pattern

Actual Quilting

So this is a method that I will use again and again and probably refine as I go along. The paper is easy peasy to remove – especially with the tug method, and ‘picking’ it out from under the threads is really easy and doesn’t stretch your quilting. And what’s even better – you can get tissue paper from the dollar store!

Here’s a few pointers that I figured out as I went along:

  1. I’ve put the ‘rough’ side down to the fabric – i can’t prove this but it seems to ‘stick’ better and not slide with the rough side down
  2. if printing out your pattern, reduce line weight of pattern, use a lighter ‘black’
  3. ensure that your glue stick / markers ARE WATER SOLUBLE
  4. avoid overlapping to many pieces of tissue paper
  5. Keep a steady pace – mach one will tear your papers – slower is better
  6. watch your repeats in the pattern

7 thoughts on “Tissue Paper Quilt Marking

  1. I LOVE the idea of tissue paper and thank you for the tutorial. I REALLY love that tissue paper packs can be bought at the dollar store. 😀


  2. Thank you for answering my email about the pins. I am going to do this on my next quilt. You said that you basted each block as you did it. Is that the kinda of quilt as you go technic? Thank you for such a great tutorial.

    Oops .. Let me clear the basting thing

    I basted the whole quilt, but you need to remove basting as you get ready to quilt it .. These blocks were so large that the concern of the quilt shifting was very real .. So the pins ensure that it stays in place with no shifts 😀

    You’re welcome .. I love to find better ways to do things, and sharing is how we all learn 😀 I’ve learned from other quilters, and it’s a nice way to give back 🙂



  3. Hi… your site is very helpful for visitors, this helps alot. The contents of your site is very impressive.


  4. Hi, I am a beginner quilter. So, I have questions. How does the tissue paper print? Does it go through the printer ok? Isn’t it to thin? Do you use tissue paper to make designs of borders?


    What i did was tape or glue it to a piece of paper to stablize it so it goes thru easier .. i do highly recommend you baby-sit it until you know how your printer responds / behaves to tissue paper .. even with using paper and tissue paper, its still a lot thinner than card stock or photographic paper and all printers are capable of printing that now.

    I did a tutorial on printing on tissue paper I hope you find this useful 🙂


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