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How to Create Your Own Quilt Templates
Quilters have not always had the fancy cutting and measuring tools that are available to them these days. Before these tools were introduced, quilters used templates to cut out shapes that they needed. Even today, to make certain patterns, a template is a necessity.
Templates are shapes, usually made out of plastic, that are traced onto fabric. Many times they are purchased in packets that come with a particular quilt pattern.
While standard shapes are available, templates are usually used for shaped that are not standard, like pentagons and hexagons. They are also used for rounded shapes like circles or scalloped edges.
Today, the majority of quilters use rulers and rotary cutters to cut out shapes like squares, rectangles and triangles. However, there are still quilters who prefer using templates to cut out their shapes.
To save money and add a personal touch to your next quilt project, why not try making your own templates. It is easy and fast and you only need a few supplies to get started.
- Flexible template plastic - To get started you'll need flexible template plastic. Coming in various sizes, this plastic is available at most craft stores and quilt shops. It can also be found online at various websites.
- Scissors - Don't use scissors that you use on your fabric. Cutting through the plastic could dull them.
- Pencil or pen - Use a sharp writing tool. Some markers have thick tips and your measurements may be off if not cut correctly.
- Nail file - Any type will do. This is sometimes needed to smooth out any rough edges.
Video tutorial on making quilt templates
Making standard quilt template shapes
Decide what size and shape template you will need. Remember that the template size will be the size of the piece of fabric cut out. Make sure to add a 1/4” sewing seam that is the standard seam width in quilting.
These instructions work for any standard shape.
Photo 1 - Decide on your finished size, and using your ruler, draw it on the plastic.
Photo 2 - Add a 1/4” around the shape and draw those lines.
Photo 3 – Cut out the finished shape with scissors. Smooth out any rough edges. This is your finished template.
For this demonstration I wanted a 3" square so I cut out a 3 1/2" square. This includes the 1/4" seam allowance. I also cheated a little bit and used the corner of the template to help me get my square.
Making complex quilting template shapes
If you want to have a more complex shape, like a hexagon, there are two ways to do this.
- Draft the shape you want to use on paper. Use a dark pencil or pen that you will be able to see through the template. Using either a ruler, or your hand, trace the shape onto the plastic template and then cut out the shape, using a nail file to smooth any rough edges.
- Find a picture of the shape and, using a ruler or by free hand, trace it onto the plastic. Cut out and finish as described above.
Making quilt templates out of household items
It is really easy to make quilt templates out of household items. Things like glasses and cookie cutters make good templates. Just take a look around your house. You'll be surprised at all of the things you can use.
To make a template like this:
- Take the item you want to use and trace around it on the plastic.
- Carefully cut around the shape on the line.
- Using a nail file, smooth out any rough edges.
- Your template is ready to use.
How to trace a quilt template onto fabric
If you are new to quilting, or using templates, this easy to follow guide will show you everything you need to know about tracing templates onto fabric.
Why make your own templates?
Making your own templates adds a personal touch to your quilt.
Maybe you have designed a unique shape that you want to highlight. Maybe you want to use grandma's favorite cookie cutter shape. Maybe you just prefer using templates.
Whatever the reason, making your own quilt templates is easy and fast.
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