There are many fun and unique quilt patterns that use non traditional shapes. These designs are achieved by making the quilt with templates. Sometimes you have to purchase a special ruler to be able to make the pattern. Oftentimes paper templates are included in the pattern. It’s a great benefit when paper templates are included, but if you don’t know how to properly print and use them it can be very difficult to make quilts with templates.
Knowing these few simple tips can help make quilt top assembly easier and expand the options of patterns that you can make. Pictured above is the Wax and Wane quilt pattern by Luz y Sombra Fiber Art Co., which can be found in Issue 6 of Modish Quilter. Pattern templates are included in this pattern to create the unique crescent moon shapes.
1. Printer settings
Most paper templates include a one inch testing square to help you ensure that you’ve printed the template at the correct size. The most common mistake that quilters make when printing templates is having the wrong printer settings. Many printers default setting is “Fit to Page.” We often forget to change the Printing Scale setting to “Actual Size” or “100% Scale.” As a result our templates end up printing out too small.
2. Measure The Test Square
Typically on a template page in a pattern there is a Test Square. This small, one inch square is in a corner of the Template page of a pattern. Never skip measuring this square when making quilts with templates. If its size is off by even an eighth of an inch that’ll throw off all the measurements for the entire quilt top.
3. Make it stick
When purchasing paper patterns the templates come pre-printed on regular copy paper. The paper template will work perfectly fine for cutting out our template pieces, however there are ways to make this process better. If while cutting out your fabric pattern pieces you find that your paper template is slipping and not staying in place you can lightly spray hairspray on the back of your template. Once dry the hairspray will make the paper template a little tacky on the back. This will help keep your paper template from shifting.
4. Bigger doesn't mean better
Oftentimes patterns that use templates are very curvy or have tight spaces that can be difficult to cut around. Instead of using your standard 45 millimeter rotary cutter you could trace your templates onto your fabric with a water soluble pen, then cut them out with scissors. This will give you more accurately shaped pattern pieces. Alternatively, you might find it easier to cut out your pattern pieces using a 28 millimeter rotary cutter. The smaller size rotary cutter makes it easier to navigate around curves and edges than with the standard size rotary cutter.
5. Make your own plastic templates
In an ideal world we would all have our templates cut out from 1/8″ thick acrylic. This is a resource that some libraries offer or can be found at Maker Spaces. The problem is that this can become expensive. Many quilters might not even have access to this resource near them. The more cost effective and accessible way of creating sturdy templates is to cut them out from plastic template sheets. You can find these at your local craft stores, such as Joanns.
A 6 count pack of 8.5″ x 11 sheet of plastic template pages will cost you around $10. The benefit of using plastic templates instead of printer paper is that they extend the longevity of the templates. If there’s a pattern you know you want to make again and will be reusing the templates this is a great investment. If you struggle with rotary control, or cutting into your templates the plastic templates sheets might help. They are a little harder to slip and cut through, resulting in less mistakes or having to reprint your templates.
Apply your new skill
Now it’s time to practice making quilts with templates. Our featured Palette Quilt and the City Garden Quilt by Mara of Mara Quilt Designs can both be found in Issue 5 of Modish Quilter. Both patterns use templates and would be great to make as fun skill builders. Find these patterns and more inspiration here.