Quilting Stencils | A Beginner’s Guide

Let’s be honest, the world of quilting can be very confusing for a beginner. There always seems to be several new techniques and tools you need to learn how to use. But some of these can actually make things easier. And there are none quite as overlooked as stencils. In fact, some people quilt for a long time before they even have their first encounter with these nifty tools.

So, to ensure that you’re not blindsided when you eventually need to use a stencil, we have created a go-to guide with all the must-know information.

What is a quilting stencil?

Simply put, it is a guiding tool that allows you to mark out patterns right onto your quilt top. For ease of use, quilting stencils are usually made of thin, slightly opaque plastic. Some are made of light screen fabric though. 

Moreover, stencils come in a variety of shapes and designs depending on the kind of pattern you are looking to create. Some of the most popular designs include borders, floral and Celtic patterns. Also, please note that stencils come in different sizes. As such, you should always choose a size that properly fits your fabric.

How do you use a quilting stencil?

After choosing the most suitable stencil for your project, you need to understand how to use it. So, to make things easy for you, here are some basics:

Supplies

  • Quilt top
  • Stencil
  • Marking tools (chalk pencils, water-soluble pens, or pounce pads)

Instructions

  • Place your stencil on the part of your quilt top that you want to create the pattern. Make sure it is aligned with any previously marked area
  • If you’re using a chalk pencil or a water-soluble pen, simply mark out the pattern
  • If you’re using a pounce pad, tap it lightly and rub the chalk around the stencil while holding it in place
  • Finally, remove the stencil from the fabric and start quilting, following the now transferred pattern as you go

Pro tips

  • For machine quilting, always go for a continuous line stencil
  • When working with dark-colored fabrics and traditional plastic stencils, chalk pencils make the best marking tools
  • Water-soluble pens are better suited for light-colored fabrics
  • Pounce pads are best for working with fabric screen stencils
  • Marking the whole fabric before quilting can lead to rubbing off of some pattern impressions before you get to quilt them

5 Amazing Quilting Stencils

Now that you have some basic understanding of what quilting stencils are and how to use them, it is time to highlight the best ones in the market today. After much consideration, these 5 have emerged the most effective and durable. It is, therefore, no wonder that they are rated so highly by quilters. So without further ado, here are our top picks:

  1. Quilting Creations Heart Stipple Stencil
Source: Amazon

Measuring 9” L by 8” W, this stencil can be used for not only quilts but also other forms of clothing. While the fact that its pattern is in a long continuous line makes it suitable for machine quilting, its lack of complicated turns makes it easy to use. As such, it is great for newbies. It also helps that it’s sturdy, durable, and easy to clean. 

  1. Quilting Creations Heart Knot Stencil
Source: Amazon

Made right here in the United States, this stencil can serve a variety of purposes. Additionally, it is crafted from durable plastic and can be cleaned using just water and soap. As such, you can use it over and over again for long periods without a worry in the world. But do you know what I really love about this stencil? The fact that it’s a great tool for those learning free-motion quilting techniques.

  1. Quilting Creations 4-Piece Borders Quilting Stencil Set
Source: Amazon

When it comes to border quilting stencils, you can’t do better than this set. With four 2” designs, this it has all you need. Unlike many stencils in the market, the ones included here are made of flexible see-through plastic and can be used on all types of sewing machines. What’s more? They are also great for hand quilting. No matter how you look at it, these stencils offer good value for money.

  1. Threaders TH-1219 Quilting Stencils
Source: Amazon

As long as we are talking about good offers, we can’t fail to at least mention this Threaders stencils set. With a total of 4 stencils, it offers all the basic shapes you need to create an interesting quilt. It also helps that each stencil included is reusable and can be used for both hand and machine quilting.

  1. Zonon 4-Piece Line Quilting Stencil Kit
Source: Amazon

Whether you are looking to do some quilting or create a few DIY crafts, this stencil set can come in handy. Each of the four included stencils is made of Mylar; a material that closely resembles plastic. Not only is mylar flexible and durable, but it is also safe for kids. Moreover, you can easily clean it with some warm water and soap. But if I’m being honest, these are not the main reasons I like this stencil set; I just have a sweet spot for the fun designs. They seem to be inspired by needles, hearts, clouds, and rainbows; all things that I love!

Ultimately, while these 5 are the best quilting stencils I have ever encountered, I am sure they are not the only good ones out there so definitely look around.

And once you’re finished with all your beautiful patterns, check out this guide on how to finish a quilt to wrap it all up!

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