How to Make Your Own Quilting Stencils, Use and FAQs

Best Thimble for Hand Quilting

Beginners can find the vast quilting world confusing when getting started. Quilting is a vast craft and you’ll always discover new techniques that require learning or accessories that need learning how to use them.

The more quilting knowledge you digest, the better your craft becomes. Stencils are popular to be overlooked by many amateur quilters and they most times quilt for a long time before getting to know about these tools. 

In this article, we will be providing all the needed information about the stencils, how they can be used and how to personally make your own quilting stencils at home. 

What is a Quilting Stencil?

The quilting stencil function as a guiding tool that ensures the precise marking of patterns onto your built top. While some quilting stencils are constructed with the light screen fabric, quilting stencils are commonly made with thin and narrowly opaque plastic which makes them easy to use. 

Depending on the preferred pattern you are aspiring to create, stencils are available in different shapes and designs. Some of the well-known designs include floral, borders, and Celtic patterns. Stencils are also available in a variety of sizes and you can easily select the perfect size for your fabric. 

Steps on How to Make Your Own Quilting Stencils Without a Professional

How Far Apart Should My Quilting Be

Quilting stencils have been used by quilters for centuries and they help in creating constant patterns during hand quilting. You can also make use of the quilting stencils to easily transfer traditional patterns onto quilts which can then be quilted making use of the machine.

When you create your own quilting stencils allows you to move your personal patterns or the traditional quilting patterns on your pieced quilt. A pencil, Utility knife, scissors, cutting mat, ruler, compass and thick poster paper are the needed accessories needed to make your own personal quilting stencils. 

Step 1: The first step in making your own quilting stencil is to make a sketch of the design you wanted to make, choose how large you plan for it, and select the motif you’ll be using.

There are a variety of motifs available to be used including hearts, circles, leaf shapes, wavy lines, pineapples, and other preferred shapes

Step 2: After selecting your motifs, you can begin to draw designs that can be repeatable throughout a quilt. Your preference will determine if the design you’ll be creating will be ideal for the border of a quilt if it is perfect for placement within repeating squares, or as a general motif that spans throughout the body of the quilt. 

Step 3: Your poster board should be perfectly positioned on a table and you can make use of your ruler to accurately mark your preferred position for the motifs.

Make use of the ruler and compass to draw in your motifs accurately. The ruler ensures an even spacing between the motifs on your design. 

Step 4: Sketch in your cutting lines cautiously while ensuring that the cutting lines are properly measured at ⅛-inch wide. When properly cut, your lines come out in the shape of the motifs. It is also important to ensure your lines are not totally connected when drawing lines of full shape such as hearts and circles.

There must be a minimum of 1-inch space present on the outline of all motifs to ensure that your designs are not accidentally cut out your designs.

Step 5: Carefully position your poster board that has your marked cutting lines on the cutting mat and make use of your sharp utility knife to cut out the lines that make your stencil.

The large outlines are to be cut first, you can do this by marking an incision that outlines around 2 to 3 inches of your outline, cut it out and repeat the same with the next 2 to 3 inches

Step 6: When the large outlines have been properly cut,  you can proceed with cutting out the small outlines.

It is advisable to cut around the stencil to make sure there is up to 2 to 3 inches of space available around your created motif. 

How Do I Use a Quilting Stencil?

Using a quilting stencil for your quilting project is not a difficult process. All that is required is your preferred quilting stencil for the project, the quilt top, and the marking tools which can be chalk pencils, a water-soluble pen, and a pounce pad. 

To make use of your quilting stencil, position your stencil perfectly on the area of the quilt top where you’re planning to create the pattern. It is important to make sure the stencil is aligned with this area to produce a better result.

When using a chalk pen or water-soluble pen, you can easily mark out the pattern but in the case of a pounce pad, gently tap the pounce pad and rub the chalk around the stencil while making sure it stays in place. When the chalk has been applied perfectly, you can then detach the stencil from your fabric which should contain the just transferred pattern and is ready for the quilting process. 

While the transferring procedure of patterns on your fabric making use of the quilting stencil can be easy, there are additional tips and tricks that professional quilters make use of when using the quilting stencil to achieve the best result. Some of these tips include.

  • When performing machine quilting, it is advisable to make use of a continuous line stencil.
  •  Chalk pencils are the ideal marking tools when making use of traditional plastic stencils on dark-coloured fabrics. 
  • Water-soluble pens work better on light-coloured fabrics.
  • Pounce pads are perfect when using fabric screen stencils.
  • When the whole fabric gets marked before quilting, some of the transferred patterns can get rubbed off before they get quilted. 

What Material Is Best To Make a Stencil?

Due to its durability and distinguished properties, Myler is considered to be the best material to make for different types of stencil and stencil applications. The mylar material is very strong and solvent proof which makes it easy to clean with alcohol, acetone, and other types of non-acid-based chemicals.

Mylar is exceptionally flexible and can easily fit with irregular surfaces and can be wrapped around cylindrical objects. 

What Paper Is Best For Stencils?

Both wax paper and parchment paper are perfect for making quilting stencils as they are both excellent for making simple patterns and designs. When applied cautiously, stencils made from both papers can withstand multiple applications of ink or paint while producing well-defined patterns. 

You can also construct effective stencils with the freezer paper. Freezer paper compared to both wax paper and parchment paper is much thicker and produces strong stencils.

The freezer paper comes with two different sides one is shiny while the other is dull. Its shiny side allows it to momentary adhere to the fabric when placed down and ironed. 


By following this article, you will have acquired basic knowledge of the quilting stencil and its function. You should also be able to create your personal quilting stencil at home making use of the needed tools.

There is also a simplified explanation of how to make use of the quilting stencils and provides a list of some of the most recognized stencils in the quilting world. By reading this article, you should have all that it takes to make use of the stencil for your next quilting project.