Dance Top Picks

Quilting Blog

Tips for Using Hand Quilting Stencils

Would you like to branch out and try something new with your quilting in 2014? Enjoy the rhythmic practice of finishing your quilts by hand with the help of hand quilting stencils.

Even if you’ve tried hand quilting before, each new quilt top is a blank canvas for a unique hand quilting pattern.

To help you on your way to hand quilted bliss, here are a few ideas to help you when using stencils.

Quilting StencilsPhoto via Minick & Simpson

Choosing hand quilting stencils

When you are shopping for hand quilting stencils, there are no real limitations. Most stencils are made of plastic for durability, and they will include a cutout that you can use to trace a design onto your quilt top.

You can also choose to draw and cut out your own quilting stencils or sketch your design freehand onto the quilt top. However, shopping for ready-made designs can be a time-saver as well as a great source of inspiration for hand quilters. You can even trace some stencils designed for painting on the wall, repeating the motif along your quilt top.

As a quilter for more than 35 years, Laurie has a stash of several hundred hand quilting stencils that she’s picked up over time. But even though she has so many stencils in her collection, she also draws her own designs and transfers them to a stencil for easy quilt marking. If you are interested in drawing your own hand quilting stencils, Laurie shares her process for tracing a quilt block and marking a custom feathers stencil on her blog Minick and Simpson.

Quilting with StencilsPhoto via Nanny’s Place

Marking your quilt

There are several methods for working with hand quilting stencils, but the basic idea is to temporarily transfer a design from the stencil to the quilt sandwich. Quilt marking techniques include sketching the design using fabric markers or pencils, applying quilter’s chalk or creasing the fabric with a hera marker. Debby marked her quilt (pictured above) with a homemade hand quilting stencil created using her Cricut die cutter and a Pilot FriXon fine-point pen.

In case you were interested in the costs that go along with buying hand quilting supplies, Debby shares the breakdown of her purchases, including a quilting hoop, needles, thread and other supplies, on her blog Nanny’s Place.

Beautiful Quilt Created with StencilsPhoto via A Way of Seeing

Combining hand quilting stencils

Once you’ve transferred your first hand quilting stencil to the quilt sandwich, you always have the option to continue the pattern around the quilt. But if you’d like to mix things up, you can also pair the first stencil with a different quilting design.

In this example of a traditional Welsh quilt from blogger Marjorie of A Way of Seeing, you can see that the hand quilting patterns include spirals and clamshells in the background, as well as diamonds and straight lines within the colored shapes. When in doubt, you can always trace inside the perimeter of your pieced or appliquéd sections and fill in the center using a stencil.

Quilt Design Featuring KittyPhoto via Craftsy member tomib

Customizing your projects

Hand quilting offers the perfect chance to customize a quilt with your favorite patterns. For instance, wouldn’t this Hand Quilted Kitty by Craftsy member tomib be the perfect complement to our favorite cat quilt patterns?

The stitched feline is a student project made as part of the Craftsy course Hand Quilting: Heirloom Design & Technique with Andi Perejda, which covers everything you need to know to become a confident hand quilter.

Do you have any hand quilting stencils in your collection? What is your favorite pattern to stitch by hand?



can you also machine quilt these stencils? I have never quilted my quilts, I have someone do longarm. Would you use your embroidery foot or something else. Would you do it with free motion?


I have machine quilted stencils. Trace them onto your fabric. Depending on the stencil, you can free motion or sew straight lines. You might need a walking foot for straight lines. Go slow and enjoy yourself. Stay relaxed (shoulders down). Good luck!

Jean Patterson

Would love to learn more. Thank you.


Am in need of a stencil with 3- 1″X 1 1/2″ hexagons followed by a 1″ diamond followed by 3-1″x 1 1/2″ hexagons. Do you have anything like that?. My phone number is 1-501-230-2096. Thank you. I would appreciate you help. Harriet Raley

Audrey E. Wrobel

You can use Photoshop, Indesign or Illustrator to make a pattern (like certain size of hexagons), print to size, cut it out and transfer it to a plastic template, or lay it on your quilt and draw around it in pencil or washable marker.

Transfer to the wrong side of the fabric for appliqué. Be sure to spot test your fabric with this method, to be sure the marker will wash away. Pencil you can just erase, or sew overtop of, but it is too hard to see, in my opinion. I use fine tip crayola washable markers, and it works fine for me.


Do you trust your FriXon pen over the long haul?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply