Studying Theatrical Costume and other adventures in London - sewing, fabrics and events.

Class 21: Transferring the design and starting to quilt the petticoat

With all my good intentions, I still hadn’t started quilting the petticoat. To be honest, I was quite scared – mostly because I have not found a technique to transfer the design which I was comfortable with.

Some people mark and sew the design on the back, but Claire said it would be better if we marked the outside as then you were quilting what would be seen. This seemed to make more sense to me as I would be hand quilting and so would want the neater stitches on top.

If I was going to be marking on to the top fabric, I needed a marking technique which would not be visible at the end, which rules out using some transfer methods. Needle Crafter has an article of 10 Common Transfer Methods, which I found quite useful.

First experiments in transferring the design on to fabric

1. Dress makers carbon paper and tracing wheel

Eva, one of my classmates who is also making a quilted petticoat, told me it took her a day to transfer her design using the yellow carbon paper and smooth tracing wheel (they are about 1meter x 3meters). She also cleverly did this before basting the layers together. I had tried with my basted layers and with all the wading it just destroyed the pattern and hardly left a mark. On Eva’s darker fabric you could only just see the faint lines, and Eva was only able to quilt in daylight as she couldn’t make out the marks in artificial light.

I used this method for my hand quilting sample (where I transferred before basting). I found that I was not able to remove the yellow lines by rubbing or with a damp cloth. Looking at the instructions on the carbon paper, it did seem like you would have to machine wash the fabric to get it out.  I have a feeling my petticoat will be dry clean only.

2. Poking through and marking (Pouncing)

Not sure if there is a better name for this method (just found it – Pouncing), but it basically involves pressing through the pattern with a fairly blunt point (tapestry needle or blunt pencil) and then marking with something like an erasable fabric pen, powder, or possibly chalk or a quilting pencil.  I tried this with 2 types of fabric pen, a water soluble pen and a disappearing pen, as well as several quilting pencils. I found the pencils were better if you were drawing straight lines and found them hard to rub off.

The advantage of using this method with pens is that as long as you have tested that the ink will disappear or dissolve in water with the fabric you are using, then there should be no marks left on your fabric. *Always test the pens on scrap first*

First I pinned the pattern to the fabric, then I poked through with a blunt pencil (making sure it would not leave a mark on the fabric). Then I used the pen to mark the fabric through the holes on the paper pattern. To save time, I guess you could just use the fabric pen to poke through the pattern, but as it is a bit like a felt tip, I didn’t want to ruin the pen.

You can see from the pictures below, the pattern didn’t really transfer all that successfully on my first attempt using the disappearing pen. Luckily ink faded away completely when I left it open to the air for a couple of days.

Design 'poked through' with fabric pen

Design 'poked through' with fabric pen

Marks on the fabric - you can see that the design is not all that clear

Marks on the fabric - you can see that the design is not all that clear

I had another attempt making the dots closer together and using the soluble marker. It did come out much clearer.

Second attempt with the poke through method

Second attempt with the poke through method and water soluble fabric pen

Once I had finished quilting the area, I used a cotton bud to dab on plenty of clean water to each spot so that the ink would dissolve. When it dried, you couldn’t see a thing.

Removing the water soluable pen marks using a cotton bud and clean water

Removing the water soluble pen marks using a cotton bud and clean water

I was still not totally happy with either of those methods and did some research online and found this video demonstrating the Clover transfer mesh and Karisma fabric pencil.

After seeing this demonstration I looked around for the items, but couldn’t find a UK supplier for the Karisma fabric pencil. I ended up ordering a the transfer mesh canvas and Clover chacopel pencil set from Sew Essential, but they haven’t arrive in time for today’s class.

Starting the hand quilting

I was kind of hoping to wait for the transfer mesh, but Claire said I should just get started in the lesson. I realised that I had not basted my centre front and quarter lines, so I squared everything up and put those in using different coloured thread than the basting thread.

Using an angle ruler to mark the quater lines of the petticoat

Using an angle ruler to mark the quater lines of the petticoat

OK, now that I had no more excuses, I had to get on with the quilting.

This week the 43cm x 43cm Sew Easy frame I had ordered from an ebay shop arrived, so I set the section of fabric in to that to hold it in place.  I thought the plastic frame was quite expensive (£14 including shipping), but it does work well and can be taken apart so it doesn’t take up much space when you are not using it.

I choose one of the bud flowers fairly near the bottom of the petticoat, but quite close to the centre front and marked it out with the blue soluble marker in the pouncing method (the same one as in the pictures above).

Once the pattern was transferred on to the fabric, I loosened the fabric on the frame so that it would make it easier for me to be able to do the rocking motion of the quilting stitch that I had been studying in the youtube videos.

And I was off…

Hand quilting the first flower bud motif on the quited petticoat

Hand quilting the first flower bud motif on the quited petticoat

You can see in the picture above that I snipped the basting stitches out of the way as I moved in to that area.

The muslin (under) side of the finished flower bud motif

The muslin (under) side of the finished flower bud motif

Wow, that only took the rest of the day to complete.  I think I will have another 40 hours  of stitching to complete the petticoat.

Period shoes

Claire also asked us to look out for period looking shoes to wear with our costumes.  I started to do some research and found that the heels in England in the 1780′s are not as chunky as I thought.

The Charm of Rococo – Bata Shoe Museum

Pictorial history of shoes


  1. Next time use a real Q Snap Frame vrs a no-name Chinese knock off

  2. Hello Stitchalot,

    the brand name of the quilting frame is Sew Easy. I just bought it from a shop on ebay as that was cheaper (considering postage) than Sew Essential or other UK suppliers at the time. To be honest, being new to quilting, I just googled ‘quilting frame’ and didn’t really see Q snap frames come up. Looking at them now, the price difference (50p) isn’t that much from the Sew Easy one.

    Take care,

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