Tuesday 4 August 2015

How to use paper templates

Many quilt patterns, including my own, come complete with templates, which somehow need to be transferred onto your fabrics.

In this tutorial I am going to cover two methods that I use when I don’t have the specific acrylic ruler to hand.
First, if your pattern is in PDF format, you will need to print your templates off at full size. I have written a tutorial on printing PDFs here.

We’ll start with the freezer-paper method. Freezer paper originates from the US where it’s used to wrap fresh meat and produce, although I get the impression that it’s mainly used for quilting these days! It has a rough side which you can draw on, and a shiny side which becomes sticky when heated by an iron (obviously, you do not want this coming into direct contact with your iron’s baseplate).

Trace your templates onto the rough side of your freezer paper. NOTE: if your template isn’t symmetrical and has a right and wrong side, you need to invert your pattern when tracing. To do this, I turn over my printout and looking through the back of the paper, I trace the shape with a black felt pen – I then place this side under my freezer paper and trace this backwards shape.  

Take your fabric to the ironing board and place the freezer paper template on top and iron into place – do not use steam. The freezer paper will stick to your fabric – magic!

Now carefully place a quilter’s ruler on top of your first cutting line. I have used my smaller 6½” square here, but any straight edge will do. Without cutting into the paper, use your rotary cutter to cut against the ruler. In some cases, as in this shape I’m cutting for my Side to Side pattern, bear in mind that you may need the next piece of fabric intact for the following cut, so be careful when cutting at the points that you don’t over cut and waste fabric.

Once you have cut down your right-hand sides, (or left if you’re a lefty) flip or rotate your fabric so that you can cut down your remaining sides. Now gently peel off your freezer paper, this can now be re-ironed onto the next piece of fabric – you can use the paper quite a few times. This method is a little laborious as you have to use the iron every time, but you can cut through a few layers of fabric at a time, just be careful when repositioning for the next cut.

Template plastic is another technique to try. This plastic is thicker and more durable than card, and is translucent making it easy to trace through. Use a biro pen to trace your templates onto the plastic and cut out carefully (do not use your fabric scissors!)

Place on top of your fabric and carefully place your quilter’s ruler on top. As before, cut along the edge of the ruler with your rotary cutter - avoid cutting into the template plastic. 

When you have cut your right-hand sides, rotate your fabric and cut the remaining sides. Then reposition your template ready for your next cut. Again, you can layer up your fabrics for bulk cutting, just be careful when repositioning for the next cut.

You can of course draw around your template for a cutting line, but be sure to use a very sharp pencil to get an accurate cut.

I hope these techniques have helped in your quilting, for more handy tips and tricks, visit my Tutorial page at Sewmotion.

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