Favorite Notion: Chaco Pens

I just received my first order of two Chaco liner pens. Up until now, I’ve been using pounce pads to mark my quilts with stencils. I pretty much always make up my own stencil designs to free motion quilt, but haven’t been overly excited about the pounce pads.

A: They’re messy. They leave a chalk halo on the quilt, blow up chalk dust into my machine, and get all over my gloves, hands, floors, etc. 
B: They’re not very accurate. My quilts are VERY often many different colors, meaning I have to switch between pounce pads (blue and white) to mark a line of quilting across the quilt. This can be frustrating, not to mention time-consuming. I also have to tape down or pray that my stencil stays where I put it so the chalk doesn’t make 4 lines while the stencil moves. Irritating! 
I’ve seen the Chaco liner pens featured on other quilter’s blogs and used in classes. So I wondered what the big deal was. While finishing up my last quilt I decided to just quilt diamonds across the whole thing. So I got out my blue water soluble marking pen to draw a big X across the middle as a guideline for my walking foot. (Here, I just use one line, then use the little metal arm thing to make evenly spaced lines off of that.) Wouldn’t you know it, my pen was dry! I did the best I could with it, actually getting two choppy lines that I could work with. Five minutes after making my lines I was on the computer and searching for the Chacos. 
I found a great place called Beverly’s. I usually try to shop through Amazon or Jo-Ann’s, as I know those two companies very well and trust them. However, I didn’t like the $10 price tag I was getting on a single liner. Beverly’s had them for $6.99 and the shipping was reasonable, so I figured saving $6 on the two pens would be worth trying the company out. They were great, shipped fast, fulfilled my order accurately, and I was happy with the. 
Now, how do I like the Chacos? Well, I can’t honestly say just yet! I tried them out on a piece of paper and was surprised at the very thin line they make. But I’ll be cutting the squares for my next quilt in a day or two, and I’ll know then how well they work. But I AM interested in hearing about your favorite marking tools or notions. Notions can make life easier. What do you use that you couldn’t live without?

UPDATE: I was recently able to use my Chaco markers for one of their intended purposes – marking lines around the frame for my quilt squares. I have to say, I love them! They make such clear, sharp lines, don’t brush away immediately, and last all through the cutting process. They glide onto the fabric very easily, without a lot of pulling and bunching of the fabric. In fact, I don’t think they pulled one time. I love the tracing wheel system at the end of the markers too. In a few days I’ll be able to make my quilting lines and try them out for that. 

I also looked up the refills for them, and they run anywhere from $2.50 to about $4. However, I think that you could use the same chalk that comes with the pounce pads or make your own chalk for refill, as long as you ground it very fine. Anyone tried this? 

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