Pixelated circles, and a brush with disaster

Hi all! No, I didn’t fall off the face off the earth. I just haven’t really sewn for ages, my sewjo* totally up and left the building, and I have made hardly anything this year. But it’s funny how fast the desire to make comes back when someone wants to pay you!

So, this is officially my first paid commission quilt (woohoo!) for a lovely friend from work.

Rainbow pixelated circles quilt

The quilt is a slightly upsized, rainbow version of the Jessee at Art School Dropout’s pixelated circles pattern. I got to test this for Jessee last year (see mine below), and I love this pattern, it’s quite simple, but incredibly effective, and those big curves are nice and easy to sew.

And while this quilt turned out awesome, and I love the finished result, it wasn’t without its problems. Skip to the end if you want to know what happened and how I fixed it.

I decided, with some help from Instagram, to quilt it with a big off centre spiral, and that’s when the problems started.

First off all, the guide bar on my walking foot broke, so I decided to use my trusty blue water soluble pen to mark dots every inch or so, as a guide for the spiral. This worked well, so once the quilt was bound it was covered in little blue dots. No worries, all they need is a squirt of water, and they disappear, so why not throw it in the washing machine, that’s basically one big squirt of water, right? I was a bit worried about some of those colours running, especially the reds, as I’m not entirely sure where some of them came from, so I added a couple of colour catchers.

Wash finished, I took the quilt out, and was relieved to see that there was no colour run. I hung it up and noticed it was covered in brown dots. I FREAKED out. It was already paid for! I realised they were from the blue pen, that were supposed to have washed out.

Holy &#%@!!!

Google told me that a soak in white vinegar would remove them, so I filled up the bath, dumped in two bottles of vinegar, and waited with bated breath, while calculating how quickly I could re-make it if I didn’t sleep that night.

Luckily, they all came out. However, this time some colour had run during the soak (those pesky reds!) I was too scared to mess with it too much more, so put it in the wash for a rinse and hoped Bronwyn would be ok with it! (She was. She’s lovely).

Anyway (god Tara get to the point already), this led me to do some testing with the blue pen. I have used these for years and never had a problem. Some of the posts I’d read in my research suggested that it might have set in the sun, others suggested it could be a reaction with the laundry powder which caused it to stain. So I grabbed some scraps of white fabric, wrote on them all, and did the following:

1. Sprayed straight away with water
2. Left in sun for 6 hours, sprayed with water
3. Set with hot iron for a few minutes, sprayed with water
4. Washed in machine with laundry powder
5. Left in sun for 6 hours, washed in machine with laundry powder
6. Set with hot iron for a few minutes, washed in machine with laundry powder

The pen on first three, that were sprayed with water, came out fine, even having been set in the sun and with the iron. When removing the pen, don’t soak the fabric, as this can cause the pen to run, (as you can see below) and then you need to wait for it to try and remove it again. I saw a good tip to use a paintbrush dipped in water to brush them away.

The second three ALL stained, after being washed with laundry powder.

Terrible picture, but you get the gist

So my expert highly technical science experiment leads me to the conclusion that it is in fact the detergent that it somehow reacts with pen and causes it to stain. However, I soaked them all in white vinegar and water for an hour and they all came up clean. And I then washed them all with laundry powder, and again, all clean.

So, the moral of the story (or if you skipped to the end cos you couldn’t be arsed with my waffle) – DON’T TRY AND WASH OUT A WATER SOLUBLE PEN USING LAUNDRY DETERGENT! Ahem. And if you do, a soak with white vinegar will bring it up good as new.

Hope that was useful, back to my second commission quilt!


*like mojo, but for sewing