How to Use Quilting Stencils

How to Use Quilting Stencils

When it comes to quilting, the possibilities and resources to use are various, which is one of the reasons for which there are so many into this particular hobby.

What are quilting stencils?

A quilting stencil is a template you use for tracing various designs onto the top of your quilt before you start quilting.

The templates come with cut grooves that give a particular pattern and design. The slots are going trace, resulting into lines on your fabrics. You use the tracks for knowing where to sew.

It’s common for the designs to be a bit more complicated, which is why using them helps you obtain beautifully designed quilts.

There are many ways to use quilting stencils. You may use them for filling in the negative space, for adding a centerpiece, cover a quilt with an edge to edge design, or even create a specific border.

After you trace them, you may stitch the patterns with the machine or by hand- it’s up to you.

How to use the quilt stencils- at a glance

If you’re looking for the shortest guide, here’s a useful overview:

  • Gather the supplies you need for the job: quilting stencil, finished quilt top, and various marking tools
  • Baste the batting, the top, and the backing together
  • Figure out where you’re going to learn your stenciling. Do you want an edge from one side to the other side? Is a medallion in the center something that you want? Or you’d like to have a centered border instead?
  • Put the stencil on the top of your quilt, making sure it’s square and straight.
  • Use a marking tool for tracing the stencil. You may have to repeat and reposition at times.

What’s the best way to use the quilt stencils?

You should use a water-soluble marking pen or any fabric marker for your quilting stencils. The stencils come in various sizes and shapes, and so do the marking tools.

Remember that there’s no shame in using all the tools you need for quilting easier. For instance, you can find a tape that helps you master the spacing of your stitches evenly, which counts so much for any beginner. You’re lining up the tape along the area you plan on stitching, guiding yourself with the markings on the tape so that your stitches stay in line. Nobody says that you shouldn’t use all the tools you need for getting better results.

Even most beautiful quilts aren’t perfect, and it’s vital that you try and spend an excellent time while working. Practice makes perfect, after all!

  • Use the right pencils/pens for marking

There are various types of pens and pencils for marking the stitching lines. Some go for the colored lead pens/pencils, whereas others work better with a chalk marker. It’s a matter of what works better for you. A fine-point permanent marking pen is easy to use, and it’s not difficult to wash it out. A blue water-soluble marking pen on light fabrics and a white pen for dark ones are great solutions to have around.

  • Stitch on the lines

No matter the stencil you’re using (how straightforward or complicated it may appear), it’s always better that you follow the instructions on the package.

Quilting stencils feature a small road map (it’s typically on the top left-hand corner), showing you where you’re going. It may not be apparent for you where you should start, continue, or finish up. To give you an example, when a stencil comes with “S” design, you’re supposed to make a continuous design line.

You may give it a try first to see if the hand quilting is for you or not. You don’t have to get the perfect results from the first trial- it’s going to get better in time. Use a nice quilting thread for the stitching.

For some, the stitches aren’t even that important. One may go for the childlike stitches for their work.

  • Pay attention to washing

When you’re using a washable marker, it’s essential that you don’t press nor put your quilt in the dryer until every marking has been washed out. It depends on the trademarks, but some may set with the heat and removing them is going to be quite a challenge. You can always stay on the safe side and use cold water for washing the markings.

Don’t rush out into it and wash the top of your quilt with a damp cloth until all the markings are gone. Let your quilt air dry and remove it once more when not all of the trademarks are gone.

One last suggestion

When you’re using a simple quilting design, it’s going to take you a couple of days or a week to finish a small quilt (it depends on your skills, determination, and time you have for quilting). You can always make your very own stencils on paper, tracing it to template plastic afterward. You can alter the size (smaller or larger) on a copier and printing it out before using it.

Keep in mind that your stitches don’t need to be perfect; small and straight stitches are ideal but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it always as planned. You don’t even have to densely quilt, as Xs and straight lines give excellent results just as well.

Don’t ever undermine the beauty of hand quilting as it gives a special feeling to any quilt. When your stitching isn’t perfect, stop worrying! Antique doll quilts’ beauty didn’t come from the excellent stitching. Quilting is also about the whole process, not only about perfect stitching!

Other resources

How to Use Stencils When Quilting | Learn To Quilt on Craftsy

A Sentimental Quilter: Quilting with Stencils

Quilting stencils for outlining quilting designs, UK

How to Use Quilting Rulers

How to Use Quilting Rulers

It doesn’t matter the level of your quilting skills; a quilting ruler is fundamental for obtaining the best results. Not only that rulers guide better accuracy on your work, but they also come in a great variety of models which makes them even more critical on any quilting project.

An entry-level quilter may get overwhelmed by the diversity of rulers out there, but he/she should be focused and get to know a thing or two about rulers. After all, they’re supposed to help you get better at quilting.

What are quilter rulers?

Anyone quilting for a while now knows that there are many elements to address to obtain the results you want. The various techniques and the necessary tools to use for quilting are only some of the things you need to learn about when quilting.

One of the aspects you can never undermine when quilting is the accuracy. It’s fundamental when piecing the top of your quilt, but that’s only one of the many examples to note. You only need a few inches off for your pieces not to match, resulting into a big messy look for your quilt. Fine adjustments and perfect matching are essential for your quilting. It’s going to take some practice until you discover which technique is going to work the best for you. There are no ideal ways, and any quilter is going to develop in time special skills for getting the accuracy the quilter needs when quilting.

When you’re cutting, a mat, a rotary cutter, and a ruler are going to be fundamental. The quilting rulers are unique as they’re designed to work only for quilting.

Most of the rulers out there are made of clear acrylic and come with essential information on every side. Rectangles, triangles, and squares are very popular in the quilting world, but the variety of shapes is very generous.

What’s the best ruler for a beginner?

A 6.5×24” ruler is a perfect option for an entry-level quilter. It’s easy to use for cutting yardage as it has the same length as the fabric. Cutting the fabric in half or strips is comfortable to do when using this type of ruler as you’re not going to have to move the ruler around very much.

But it’s not enough for using a ruler as you also need to know how to read the information on the ruler. If you do it right, you may get even better results.

As the information is printed on both sides (in the case of acrylic rulers), you also have to get accustomed to the ruler’s layout for cutting correctly. A patented double color grid gives clarity to the ruler and eases out the reading on both light and dark fabric.

The etched squares should be 1″ each, helping you cut straight line easy. The tick marks inside the square go as low as 1/8″.

Diagonal lines help you when cutting different angles for triangles or other shapes; you want your ruler to come with diagonal lines as well. You typically turn the ruler opposing the fabric for cutting corners. You continue with lining up the edge of your diagonal with the side of the material. You’re done!

The second ruler for a beginner

The more you quilt, the better you’re going to get at it and expanding your quilting kit is the right thing to do. You should also add four square rulers (4.5″X4.5″, 6″X6″, 9.5″X9.5″ and 12.5″X12.5″) to your kit.

When you have more than just one size for the rulers, the cutting system is going to run smoother. You can try various types of cuts in all sorts of sizes and angles, without worrying about your accuracy.

Even if the 6.5×24” is versatile and can handle almost everything in quilting, some other rulers that work for the smaller details are going to count to. After all, you’re aiming for best results every single time!

How to use other shapes of rulers?

One can only ask what’s the difference between the rectangular and the square rulers. The triangle ruler sounds complicated to use as well.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

  • Rectangle rulers

They’re great to use when cutting strips or trimming the edges of the fabric. When you want to obtain some short pieces and secondary cutting, a small rectangle ruler is going to be a reliable option.

You can also use this type of rulers for cutting yardage. They can be long, so make sure you don’t wiggle it as you may end up with an uneven cut. Put your hand near the bottom, moving it to the middle when you get to the halfway.

  • Triangle rulers

You may use triangle rulers for cutting half-square and quarter-square triangles. They ensure the fastest and easiest way to cut angles or triangles.

  • Square rulers

Cutting strips or squaring quilt blocks is easier when using square rulers. You can also use them fot cutting angles, with the little ones being crucial for cutting blocks or units.

  • Curvy rulers

This type of rulers is dependable for making curvy log cabin quilts or other less common shapes.

Some useful tips for the road

There’s no such thing as knowing how to use the quilting rulers too well, so here are some tips to keep in mind:

Rulers should come with noticeable and easy to read markings

Most rulers come with 45-degree angle line

Double-check the new ruler for accuracy

Get an acrylic ruler as it’s going to last for a reasonable amount of time.

Many rulers feature, so it’s easier for you to hang it on a wall mounted pegboard.

Using a ruler gives you both speed and precision. Learn how to get the best out of it!

Related posts

How to Use Quilting Stencils

Other resources

How to choose the perfect quilters ruler –

Quilting Basics 13: Ruler Foot Quilting for Beginners – Free Motion Quilting Project

Getting The Most Of Your Acrylic Rulers – Quilting Board

Quilting Rulers that Make you Lazy

How to Use Quilting Pantographs

How to Use Quilting Pantographs

Pantographs involve a perpetual line design that is printed on a long piece of paper. You don’t know the length of the longarm frame, so it’s better that you don’t cut the pantograph design to a smaller size. You should leave it full-size, folding the excess out so that you can work better.

Let’s start with some tips!

If this is your first time working with a pantograph, you should stick to the patterns that don’t include any sharp angles nor travel back over themselves.

When you decide on directional patterns, it’s essential that you load the quilt the right way. As for the sizing, keep in mind that partial rows are easy to fix and difficult to avoid.

You can choose the pantograph size according to the size of your quilt top, and you should run the numbers accurately (the size of the quilt top, the size of the piecing and so on).

What are the steps to follow?

Being meticulous is one of the secrets when it comes to quilting, so, without any further ado, scroll down to learn about the steps to take when using pantographs for your quilt:

1. Load the quilt

You need to make sure that the machine is in the basting mode and that the zip is on the backing. The thread baste batting has to be in the horizontal lock, whereas the thread bastes quilt top goes along the top and the sides.

Even though it’s tempting, never use pins for basting when using pantographs. You end up constantly checking the pantograph, and it’s only a matter of time until the needle breaks over a pin.

You should drop the needle in the upper left corner of the top quilt (use the needle position button for the job). Turn on the laser light as well.

2. Time to load the pantograph

You continue with loading the pantograph onto the back table, right under plastic, lining up along the straight edge of the table.

You need to adjust the laser light so that it lines up with the lowest point from the first row of the design horizontally. It’s essential to fix it so that it’s easy for you to see where you need to hold the machine. Try to stand straight up, maintaining the pantograph lined up against the edge of the table.

You also need to adjust the laser vertically, using the starting end of the pantograph. You need to move the pantograph left to right for so that you can access the better points.

Don’t hesitate to use the ruler for better accuracy and make sure the paper panto remains lined up against the edge of the table — Double-Check before moving forward.

3. Choose and mark the starting point/ending point

You can use a clear ruler for marking your starting point. You need to do it for every single row if the pattern has more than just one row. The post-its are great to use for drawing fill-in.

Continue with raising the needle, dropping it in the right corner (upper one) of your top quilt. Use the clear ruler once again for deciding and marking the ending point. Again use the post-its if necessary.

You should drop the needle in the first starting point, identifying the start point for the last row. When the pattern doesn’t include a previous row, you drop the needle with the starting point of first full row.

4. Go to the front/back of the machine

You have to feed the bobbin thread, lock the stitches and remove the thread tails. Go to the regulated mode as well.

Once you’re done, go back to the back of your machine and start quilting, following the path. You should drop the needle when you get to the ending point. Return to the front of the machine once again, locking the stitches, feeding the bobbin and doing all the trimming you need.

5. …and repeat

You should repeat the steps for all the other full rows. When you’re done, continue with rolling your quilt.

6. Return to the back of the machine

Look for the highest point of your pantograph, while dropping the needle on the last quilted row. Some pantographs have the points marked, for more comfortable use. You can always set a sign of your own (a central point) so that everything goes faster.

7. Getting closer to the end

It’s time now to remove the belly bars or the side clamps. The needle has to be dropped in the quilt, as you keep an eye on the laser light and roll the quilt so that the laser light is lining up to the precise point on the partial row.

You continue with locking the roller bars and reattaching the side clamps/belly bars. You have to take a look at the height of rear bar while basting down the sides (if needed). Complete all the rows. More often than not, the last row is a partial row.

Let’s end with more tips!

No matter how careful or meticulous you are when using pantographs, you should always pay attention to some aspects. We made it easy for you to scroll down for the last recommendations:

  • Don’t move the head of the machine if the needle is dropped in the quilt
  • Don’t beat yourself up, trying to follow the pattern precisely. The risk for jagged lines is high when doing so. It’s better that you concentrate on feeling the motions for a smoother quilting result.
  • You can try making the backing and the batting larger
  • Use your right hand for quilting as it’s more comfortable.
  • You don’t want to run out of bobbin so check it from time to time.
  • You should use the finger for tracing the pattern before you quilt; it’s going to reduce the number of path mistakes
  • When you’re not rolling right, you may end up with overlapping rows or significant gaps between your rows.
  • In the case of an overlapping row, you may leave it that way. You can also line up and roll the right way, quilting over and removing the stitches when you’re done.
  • Should you have a gap, you can fill in space with echo around your pattern. Lining up and rolling well, quilting over may also be a solution.
  • When you’re taking the stitches out at home, it’s a good idea to mark the stitches you want to remove with chalk.

Other resources

How to Use a Pantograph – Heartbeat Quilting

What Are Pantographs, and Why Quilt with Them? – Free Motion Quilting Project

Pantograph vs. free motion quilting | APQS