How to Mark Quilting Stencils

How to Mark Quilting Stencils thumbnail
Proper use of stencils gives quilts a polished look.

Quilters often ooh and aah over tiny quilting stitches or intricately pieced quilts, but great quilters know that one of the signs of a well done quilt isn’t how small the stitches are or how difficult the piecing was. It’s how accurate the quilting lines are. The best way to achieve accurate quilting lines is to use a template. Whether the template is store-bought or homemade, transferring its design to the quilt top takes some time, care and a little know how.

Things You'll Need

  • Quilting template
  • Hairspray (optional)
  • Fabric marking pencil or pen
  • Tissue paper, tracing paper, or tear-away stabilizer (optional)
  • Pencil (optional)
  • Pins (optional)
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  1. Marking the Quilt Directly

    • 1

      Lay the quilt on a hard, flat surface, such as a large table. The top of the quilt should face up.

    • 2

      Spray the back of the stencil with a small amount of hairspray. This makes the stencil a little tacky, so it isn’t as likely to slide around as you work.

    • 3

      Lay the stencil on the center top of the quilt. For pieced quilts, lay the stencil, centered, on the center square. For quilts with a solid top, center the stencil by carefully measuring the quilt’s length and width.

    • 4

      Press down on the stencil with one hand, firmly holding it into place. With the opposite hand, hold a fabric marking pencil or pen. With the pencil, trace the cut out holes or lines in the stencil, transferring them to the fabric.

    • 5

      Remove the stencil by lifting it straight up. Repeat step 4 until the entire quilt is marked. Be careful not to run anything across the transferred design, or it might smudge.

    • 6

      Quilt, using the transferred markings as a guide for the stitches.

    • 7

      Remove the markings by following the pen or pencil manufacturer instructions. Pencil is usually removed with a brush that came with the pencil. Pen is usually removed by dabbing with water.

    Marking the Quilt Indirectly

    • 8

      Lay a piece of tissue paper, tracing paper, or tear-away stabilizer on a hard, flat surface. Lay the stencil on top of the tissue paper and hold it down firmly with one hand.

    • 9

      Trace the stencil’s design with the opposite hand, using a pencil. Repeat step 1 until you have enough paper patterns to cover the entire quilt.

    • 10

      Lay one of the paper patterns on the quilt’s center. Pin into place.

    • 11

      Quilt this section of the quilt, stitching through the paper pattern. When that part of the quilt is quilted, gently tear away the paper pattern

    • 12

      Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the quilting is complete.

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  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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