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Remove Quilting Lines Left By Chalk Markers

by Sharon Harrington
(Delafield, WI)

I tested the pink chalk on my border sample before beginning. I have now marked and quilted a king sized quilt. The border is a natural color and I am having trouble removing the pink lines between the stitches.

Do I need to wash the complete quilt? I cannot bleach it off because the backing is a dark color.


Ideally chalk will disappear during the machine quilting process. However, sometimes it does not. These are possible remedies for its removal.

As always, be sure to test on an inconspicuous area of your quilt before trying any of our suggestions on your whole quilt.

NOTE: In your question, there was no mention of prewashing your quilt fabric. If you did not, I would check to be sure that the fabrics in the quilt are colorfast. Most of the removal methods suggested take some form of liquid and you wouldn't want to have any fabrics run.

To remove chalk marks, try:

  • Dabbing with a clean sponge and cold water

  • Fabric eraser - though these are generally marked for use to erase light pencil marks, some are suggest use for the removal of all marks

  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - rub gently

  • To remove chalk from it's Chaco Liner, Clover recommends washing in a water/vinegar mixture. (5 parts water to 2 parts white vinegar) and then letting it air dry. That would take a lot of vinegar to wash a quilt.

  • Pepper Cory, in her book 'Mastering Quilt Marking' also recommends the use of white vinegar to remove heavy chalk marks. She suggests applying the vinegar to a soft cloth (I'd use white to avoid transferring any color TO your quilt) and gently rubbing the chalk marks. You don't want to saturate the quilt with vinegar. Let it air dry and then wash the quilt in cool water.

If you still have the sample you tested on, I'd use that to test the remedies first. Then test the most promising on an inconspicuous place on your quilt. If it works there, then move to the rest of your quilt.

I would try one of these remedies before washing the quilt. I would not want to inadvertently transfer the color from the chalk markings to another area of the quilt and create a bigger problem. I'm not saying that would happen, just that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Quilts markings that refuse to leave once a quilt is finished are the most unwelcome of guests.

We, as quilters, depend on the accurate labeling of quilt marking tools to let us know which is best for our quilt. If you have one that won't come out as the instructions suggested, please write to the manufacturer and let them know. It's the only way we can get better products.

Readers, if you have any other suggestions, please let us know by using the 'Comment' link below.

Sharon, I hope this information has been of help to you.


Julie Baird

P.S. Your question has led me down an interesting research path.

I came across an article where the quilter found that very few of the quilt marking tools she used came out as promised. That's disheartening since we rely on the package information to help us choose which marking tool to use.

Over the next couple of months, I will test a variety of products, stitch over the markings and let them sit for a month or two to replicate how a quilt gets quilted. Then I'll remove the marks as per the manufacturers' instructions. I'll report my findings on the website and then announce them in STASH Talk, our monthly newsletter.

While this doesn't help you with your present problem, I hope it will aid quilters in the future.

Comments for Remove Quilting Lines Left By Chalk Markers

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Hate this pen
by: darlene

JoAnns will be getting this back.

Tried all suggestions. Next time I will try tear away with the design on that rather than my quilt..

Very disgusted. I am finishing a baby quilt as a gift.

All this work and money.

I am just sick.

Shout worked :)
by: CMoe

Thank you for all the options to remove chalk marks.

I used blue chalk on white fabric and had no idea it would not come out.

The Shout worked for me :) My question is: have you completed your test on the different chalk markers and how well they disappear. There are no dates on the comments so I am not sure when these comments were posted.

Thanks Again :) 6-11-2015

Removing Chalk marks from quilt top
by: Anonymous

I have just this minute tried using the eraser on the end of the Frixion Pen to remove gray chalk marks from a USA Birch Chalk Pencil from my black fabric and it worked brilliantly.

Carbona carpet cleaner worked
by: Carolyn

I marked upholstery fabric with red Chaco marker. It would not come off with a damp cloth.

Also tried vinegar/water solution and Energene (dry cleaning solvent).

I finally got it out easily using Carbona carpet cleaner. I put a little on a toothbrush, rubbed it on, left it for a few minutes, then gently brushed with the toothbrush.

The red marks came out easily. An added benefit of carpet cleaner is that it does not need to be washed (not an option on my upholstered chair).

Soap for marking
by: Carol

I mark all my things with slivers of left over soap and you can sometimes just rub it and it will disappear or spray a sponge and rub lightly and it's all gone. I have used it for many years on my garments I have made, now I use it for quilting as well.

Don't use glycerine soap though. I take a blade and "sharpen" them so it is a fine line.

Shout worked for me!
by: Anonymous

To the person who posted about using Shout pre-wash spray to remove chalk lines: thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I am a newbie quilter who hasn't done much more than stitch in the ditch until quite recently. I got a pink Clover brand Chaco marker in my Christmas stocking this year and today I gave it a go. Being new it never even occurred to me to test it first so I just went ahead and marked up the whole quilt, and then discovered that it wouldn't brush off the bright yellow fabric I was using for half of my blocks.

Total panic - until I found this blog and your post.

I happened to have some Shout gel in the cupboard. I rubbed a bit in and then just rinsed it using a white cloth and hot hot water, and the marks are gone. Phew. Now I know that I can get the whole quilt clean, even if I have to do it line by line. I am *so* grateful that you posted, as this is a gift that I am making, and now it isn't ruined.


Poor packaging.
by: Margaret Challice

I purchased a Chaco Pen (Natural Chalk) from the Malvern show which when demonstrated seemed to be the answer to the most problematic stage of my quilting. I checked on the packaging for instructions and there was no indication of how the pen should be used or how to remove the unwanted lines.

I did try erasing the lines on a spare piece of the same material but I can still see the them.

I have got to the stage of quilting a football pitch for my grandson. I marked one small line ready for quilting with the pen. To my horror 2 days later the marks are still there.

I am very disappointed because there are no contact details of the manufacturer on the packaging only an item no. LS-200. I will try the erasing methods you have suggested and hopefully one will work.

Trial and error
by: Anonymous

I'm stuck on Pilot Frixion pen. I'd like to find a sticky sheet of paper that doesn't leave much sticky residue as that would make removal easy.

From the Editor: I'm assuming this is to stabilize the fabric when you draw the design on...

Have you tried freezer paper? You need to iron it on to make it stick, but it's easy to pull away and leaves no residue. A single sheet can be used many times. You can get it at the grocery store or sometimes the corner drugstore.


Try Shout prewash spray
by: Anonymous

I experienced pink chalk lines using a Chaco marker, that would not brush off an off-white fabric and thread even though I had no problem with it disappearing (sometimes too soon) from medium and dark fabrics and threads--I'm making 3 dozen quilted craft items for a charity, and used it to mark a few stitching lines on each item.

I turned to my prewash bottle of "Shout" spray and followed their directions: spray offending stain, rub stain (I used terry cloth) wait 1-5 minutes and wash in hottest water fabric will tolerate--hot water for the 100% cotton. I laundered in machine and dried on medium heat. Happy to say that 98% of the pink disappeared, and any remaining is hard to find unless you are looking for it.

I have used this marker many times before with no problem, but will be more careful in future.

by: Diane L.

My friend made a 108 x 108 quilt for a raffle. She asked if I would quilt the edge and finish binding as my part of the project. I used red chalk to mark my border and quilted it. When it came time to remove the chalk marks nothing seemed to work, and I mean nothing.

Not vinegar and water, not spray nine, not fabric eraser.....well last of all I tried a product called AWESOME. It's a yellow liquid and I purchased it at the Dollar store but I know you can get it elsewhere. I sprayed the first small section and used a tooth brush. It worked. So I then sprayed about a 10 inch section, sprayed it and began to brush, by the time I got half way about 5 inches the rest had disappeared.

From that point on I continued to spray using the brush on for gentle touch in places where threads needed a little help. 90 percent vanished on it's own within a minute or two of spraying.

Caution there is an odor and you will need to air dry or use your dryer on air to help dissolve but it does go away in time.

I can't say this will work all the time but I had much success.

Always try on your practice piece to be sure your project is not bleached out in any way.

From the Editor: I am SO glad that this worked out for you AND that you shared your experience with us. Thank you so much!

~ Julie Baird, Editor

blue chalk
by: zhala designs

I have been using this blue chalk for a while with no problem. Then my last two quilts have been stained. None of the suggestions work.

I have a feeling the chalk is adhering to the type of sizing the fabrics gave been coated in. I'm going to pre-wash my fabrics from now on and look for a better marking product.

chalk marks
by: Pattyhrn

I made a beautiful queen quilt for my daughter for her wedding. I finished it this weekend and washed it to remove the chalk marks.

Unfortunately I can't get the blue marks from the clover chalk marker to come out. I will try the white vinegar solution. I also read that a magic eraser might work, I'm assuming I should wet it and try rubbing it. I'm concerned because it looks like the chalk has discolored the thread....any more suggestions would be welcome.

I'll never use that blue clover marker again!

marking a quilt
by: Mary L.

My problem is chalk marks come out while I am hand quilting. I am looking for a marker for dark fabric that will stay on long enough for me to hand quilt. And will wash out. I have tried soap stone marker, don't actually mark, also white pencil doesn't mark well. Help! Help!

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