How to Make Quilting Templates

Truth be told, rotary cutters are all the rage right now, along with the cutting mat and the ruler. They’ve all become the fundamental tools used for quilting. However, there are many quilters out there that still use the quilt template as they come as the most efficient ways to design blocks with odd sizes or irregular shapes.

What’s a template per se?

The template is a piece of material that helps you outline when tracing. Particular models are cut so that they create the quilt blocks.

The quilting templates can be made of various materials. You may think of paper, but it’s not that strong nor takes several tracings. Therefore, you should choose heavier weight materials, with cardboard, poster board, acrylic, and plastic being more popular options.

Creating your very own template is a good idea, and you shouldn’t hesitate giving it a try.  You never know when you’re going to use it.

What’s the easiest way to make a cardboard quilting template?

Cardboard is a versatile and dependable material to use for your quilting templates. Here are the steps to take when you decide to go with cardboard for your quilting templates:

  • Collect the supplies you need: cardboard, marker, some small scissors, and your pattern of choice. Don’t hesitate to use cardboard from a cereal, rice/pasta box.
  • Look for the single layer cardboard that is used for food and not the cardboard from the heavy-duty boxes. Cardboard with a blank interior is an excellent choice for quilting templates
  • Cut out the pattern pieces that you’re planning to use. A long-time quilter isn’t going to cut up a pattern from a professional magazine nor a book. It’s better that you make copies of the pattern pages, cutting out the pieces you need.
  • Begin tracing the patterns onto your piece of cardboard. Continue with transferring the pattern markings, labeling every single piece.
  • Use a comfortable pair of sharp scissors for cutting out the templates.

What steps you need to take when making a plastic quilting template?

Even though there are some general rules that you follow no matter the materials you’re using, it’s better that you’re aware of the differences between the materials you’re applying for your templates.

Here’s how to do it right with plastic:

  • Put together the supplies you need: template plastic, marker, patterns, and small sharp scissors. You can shop for square or rectangular sheets from a local quilt shop/craft store.
  • Place the template plastic right over your patter. You may use some tape for keeping it in place
  • Use a marker for tracing the pattern pieces onto the plastic. Continue with transferring the markings, without skipping the labeling for every piece.
  • Use the scissors for cutting out your pieces.

Once the templates are done, using them is going to be a breeze (if you know a thing or two about quilting).

Is making acrylic quilt template any different?

Many quilters are going to go with acrylic for their quilt templates, so scroll down for the tips to remember:

  • Buy a piece of acrylic from a home building supply store. Some stores can cut it precisely for you, so don’t blow that chance and don’t say “no.”
  • Measure your ruler (you can use a sharpie), scoring it with a craft blade. Apply some pressure into it as you need to cut into it a bit. It’s better that you use a straight metal edge when doing it. Flip it over, scoring the other side too.
  • You can fold over a placemat, inserting the acrylic piece into folded edge. Use a steady hand for snapping it off. It’s going to be loud, and you need to put some muscle into it. If you’re not able to do it from the first trial, go back to the edged metal ruler, but score more profound this time.
  • The chances are that the edge is a bit rough, so use some sandpaper for smoothing it out. You want it to be nice and smooth so that it doesn’t tear nor snag your quilt.
  • Use a Sharpie or a pen for marking it with a big X right in the middle — Mark 1” from the corners and the 6.5”, without skipping the top right corner. If you don’t like the results, wipe it away and do it all over again.
  • Design and make your one-of-a-kind quilting template. You can cut the acrylic into 2″ squares, using all of them for just one project.

No matter the material, here are some tips for the road

It doesn’t matter which type of material you’re going to use for your quilting templates. It’s a matter of personal taste and needs at the end of the day. What counts the most is the results, so here are some things to remember next time you’re heading toward your quilting corner in your home:

  • Not all templates are going to require seam allowances. You should check the pattern carefully to see if you need to add some
  • First things first, always proceed with reading the pattern directions before starting the work. Magazines or books don’t offer much space, which is why you may have to enlarge and print the pattern so that you obtain the right dimensions.
  • Tracing is going to work great when you’re using permanent markers with an excellent point
  • If your pattern includes a lot of straight and long edges, it’s better that you use a ruler for tracing the pieces.
  • Be meticulous and organized and write the pattern’s name on every single template piece. It’s going to be easier to find it when it gets lost.
  • It’s also a good idea to store your pattern templates in a labeled bag (or the recipient).
  • Don’t forget to transfer the markings from the pattern pieces onto your templates.
  • If you go with plastic templates, you should mark the right side of the model so that you’re using it correctly.

As long as you’re patient and meticulous, making your quilting templates can bring a lot of joy and pride, especially when you create beautiful quilts for everyone to admire!

Related posts

How To Prevent Puckering When Quilting

How to Use A Quilting Frame

Other resources

DIY: How to Make Quilt Templates

How to Make an Acrylic Quilt Template – Yarn-or-Fabric

Templates – Making and Using | Lessons – The Quilting Company