Saturday, July 4, 2020

Divided Hearts: Plan for an Inking Class

Susan Vachino inked her ancestors' names on her Antebellum Album quilt

C&T Publishing has a page full of class plans coordinated with books. Here's one for my Divided Hearts book---using the inked inscriptions in the book in a drawing class for making labels or signing friendship blocks. I added a few pictures to the plan for this post. You could use it to teach others or experiment yourself with inking.

Lisa's ambitious copy of an anti-slavery image

Class Description

Gain confidence in your reproduction quiltmaking techniques in a drawing class where you'll ink traditional flourishes, names and sentiments on fabric perfect to stitch into your album blocks. Learn the basics and then some about how to get the look and how to make it permanent. We'll use the trace-able patterns in Divided Hearts for inspiration.

You'll leave class with a few inked squares you can use to wow your friends with signatures for group quilts and you'll improve your label-making design and skills for your own quilt backs (and fronts.)

Barbara Schaffer also used her quilt as a family ancestor record.

Class Length
For the drawing class 2 hours; if you want to add piecing make it 3.

Susan Vachino
Add a class section on teaching this challenging block #3

Class Supply List
Required text: Divided Hearts: A Civil War Friendship Quilt
An 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of washed white fabric backed with freezer paper. (Make these yourself to hand out or sell or have them bring one or two---we can get at least 4 vignettes on each sheet.
A sheet of tracing paper (again have them bring it or supply it.)
A permanent pen (Use what you sell or see options below*.) Give them black and brown options and colored choices of different widths to buy.

Sara Farley's inked quilt on the cover

Classroom Preparation
This is a drawing class, not a sewing class (although you could link it to pieced blocks in Divided Hearts. Blocks 1, 5, 11 & 12 are good for inking.)
A light table to share would be nice to have but not necessary.
Several irons as you want to heat set the inking.

Dorry Emmer

Class Agenda
1) Introduce the traditional idea of inking, popular about 1840 to 1880. People love accurate historical information so you might want to read up on what kinds of inks people used before the Civil War and why they sometimes deteriorate.
Link: http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2014/06/ladies-album-inked-signatures.html

2) Show some examples (plenty in the book Divided Hearts)

Barbara Schaffer

3) Students also love accurate comparison shopping information so you might want to read up on the different kinds of permanent pens available today.
  • Don't use a Laundry Marker, they fade.
  • Heat set the finished inking.
Barbara Schaffer

4) Have each student choose and trace four of the inked drawings in the book. For beginners: Pages 17 & 36. For more confident inkers: Pages 80 & 86.

Kay Gentry

5) It's hard to trace fabric from a book, so trace the flourish from book onto tracing paper and then place fabric on the tracing paper. This gives a chance to practice drawing and they can take the paper home to trace again.

6) Space the flourishes out on the fabric. Tell them to remove the freezer paper, heat set and trim as necessary for block centers or labels.

Treadle Stitches

*Suggested Markers
Most shops carry Pigma Micron pens and these work great. But do have students heat set the inked flourishes in class or at home (Some recommend waiting 24 hours to apply a hot iron for a minute or so.) Width: 05 is fine, but do notice that some of the flourishes use two line widths and some a thicker point.

Another option: Pentel Arts Gel Roller for Fabric. Heat setting never hurts.

Dorry Emmer


  1. What a great idea to feature inking. I really enjoyed challenging myself with the inking in the Antebellum Album BOM and got better at it each month. Thanks for including my blocks here.

  2. Thank you for all the information!

  3. I really enjoyed my inking journey and the Antebellum blocks were perfect for trying something new. Thanks for sharing mine!