How to Make Your Own Quilting Stencils

Do you love quilts with intricate patterns and elaborate details? You must have been fascinated seeing those DIY videos showing quilting works and just want to give it a try. Beautiful stencils can make the job easier and turn an ordinary piece of the quilt into a most intricate one.

Some people love to make patterns and designs with free hands, but using a stencil will make your job even easier and will give a more detailed finish. Although you get ready-made stencils available in the market, buying one for each quilt design is neither affordable nor feasible.

Moreover, the store-bought stencils are not made from sustainable materials hence not great for the environment too. So what should you do? You can make your own DIY stencils for each quilt, and you have the freedom to make it from your choice of material too.

You can try upcycling the plastics that are just lying around your house or use some cardboard to make your own stencils. 

Tips on How to Make Your Own Quilting Stencils

There are a variety of methods to make stencils for quilting. You can make your stencils from different materials like plastic, metal, fabric, paper, and wood. The choice of material depends on what you want to quilt.

I. Making a Stencil from Plastic

A plastic stencil is the easiest to make, and it can be reused many times until it wears out. To make a plastic stencil, you will need a piece of stiff plastic. Take a sharp blade and carefully cut out the shape you want the stencil to be. You can use a range of materials, but most people use an old credit card for this purpose.

The next step is to use a sharpie marker to mark the area you want to cut out. Once you have drawn the areas you want to cut out with the marker, take a sharp blade, and carefully cut through the drawn line.

Using an Exacto knife or any type of blade is not recommended for this purpose. Once you have finished cutting out the stencil, give it some time for it to recover, and then repeat the process until you’ve made all your stencils.

II. Plastic Sheet and Knife

  1. Trace the pattern onto the sheet and cut it out.
  2. Place the stencil on top of the fabric, and use a pencil to mark the places where the stitches need to go.
  3. Sew on these marked points, and then remove the stencil.
  4. Make as many as you need for your project and enjoy!

III. Free-motion Pattern Planning

Let’s say you want to make a quilt with a lattice pattern; you will need to cut out rectangular shapes and lay them side by side; this is called free-motion quilting.

The stencils come in two categories. The traditional one is the straight line or grid style, which is characterized by uniform lines and sharp edges. The other type is the free-motion style which is characterized by irregular shapes and soft edges.

To make your own free-motion stencil, you can use any material that is available in your home, like cardboard or even the plastic bags that are lying around. All you’ve to do is cut out your desired shape in your chosen size and then paint the inside black with any color of your choice.

If you are planning for a single piece of work, you could make one stencil for each design. But if you are planning for more than one design, you can make separate stencils for each design and use them accordingly when required.

IV. Freezer Paper Stencils

These are the best ones if you want to make a stencil but don’t want to spend a lot of money or use a lot of materials. All you need is a roll of freezer paper and a stencil. Cut your freezer paper to your required size, and then put it onto the fabric that you want to stencil.

Draw the design on the freezer paper, and then remove it from the fabric. You will end up with a stencil that you can use over and over again.

Since freezer paper is made from plant-based materials, it is more environmentally friendly than other types of stencils.

You can also use freezer paper stencils for other purposes like sticking them on your windows to create an interesting display or even in your holiday wreaths.

V. Printable Quilting Stencils

A quilting stencil is a pre-cut design that is used in quilting. It is placed on top of the quilt and pieced fabric to be sewn. Quilting stencils are made of thin paper, plastic, or cardstock and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are most often cut in the shape of the design to be pierced, with smaller shapes that can be cut out with a craft knife or razor blade.

You can find quilting stencils at your local hobby store, online, and in magazine tutorials.

Stencils can be made by the quilter with materials found in the home, or they can be purchased ready-made. Quilting stencil kits are available at craft stores and online.

VI. Pattern Making Without Marking

If you are well versed in pattern making, you can simply cut out the desired pattern from the cardboard and use it as a stencil. But if you are unsure about the design or pattern, you can make it by taking a printout of the pattern on the cardboard. 

Tape the pattern to the cardboard, cut out the parts of the pattern that will be used as a stencil, and then just carefully cut out the pattern. The process is simple and easy, but it does need some time and patience.

Covering your quilt with a stencil will give an elegant look to your quilt. You can have a beautiful quilt with intricate details by simply using stencils. It is easy to make your own stencils for quilting or craft projects.

VII. Making Patterns With a Grid

Creating your stencils is not difficult at all. You can start with a square or rectangular piece of paper or cardstock. Then, you need to decide what the dimensions of your stencil are.

You can decide on the size based on what your quilt design is, the size of the quilt, or even the size of the design that you want to cut. The next step is to mark two lines on opposite edges of your cardstock. Cut along these lines and fold the cardstock along the line you have cut. Now, you need to draw a grid on it. You can make squares or rectangles with 1/2 inch spacing.

Once you are done with the grid, you can use a pencil or pen to trace designs on it, or alternatively, use this grid to cut different shapes. Now, all you need to do is stick this stencil on top of your quilt and use a pencil to trace over it. Remember to keep it moistened at all times with a damp cloth.

IIIX. Feather Wreath Pattern

If you are looking for an intricate quilting stencil, then this feather wreath pattern is what you need. You can use it to fill in an empty space or to create a border.

This stencil will give you the most detailed finish, and it’s not difficult to use. So let’s get started and make your first stencil!

– Cut out a round shape from a piece of cardboard and then cut it into a curve that will fit your quilt.

– Use a pencil to draw the pattern on the round shape and then cut it out using scissors.

– The next step is to attach the stencil onto your quilt and then use a permanent marker to color it in. Finally, take off the stencil, and you will have a beautiful feather wreath pattern on your quilt!


Here is a wrap-up on how you can make your own quilting stencils. Hopefully, the methods as well as options we have mentioned solved all your queries regarding stencil making. For more queries, glide into the comment section!

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