Custom Quilting Line Stencils

I am working on new class samples for a workshop I teach, Custom Cuts, which introduces quilters to the many ways a computerized cutting machine can be a valuable tool in their quilting studio.

Stencils for fabric painting or wax resist work are often closed shape objects where you need to mask off the negative space. Quilters however, also use stencils to mark the lines of stitching used in quilting the three layers of a quilt together. You can purchase many designs from quilt stencil vendors, but if you need a special size or an original design, you will need to make your own. Traditionally, this is achieved by hand-cutting with a stencil blade the narrow channels that represent the stitching lines.

The challenge to do this by machine is to draw these channels or slots that the marking pen rides in without too much distortion. One of the fastest is to simply create a shadow layer of the object that is ½ the width of the desired channel size. Note that your design must be an open, not closed object. You want to create a shadow around the line itself not the design.

  1. In Make The Cut!, I found that a shadow layer of .025” produces a channel wide enough to accommodate a standard quilt marking pen, and a shadow layer of 0.017” works well for fine line marking pens.
  2. Separate the original design from the Shadow Layer and hide.
  3. Using the Eraser Tool in the Node Editing toolbar, erase portions of the shadow line to create the breaks necessary to hold the cut portions of the stencil together. I used an eraser width of 1 mm.
  4. Join the edited design to a rectangle to complete the stencil.
  5. Note that once created, the stencil SVG cannot be resized as that will also change the size of the marker channels.
  6. Cut!

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I tested on a few different materials, a pliable quilters stencil plastic that comes in a roll and a more rigid stencil plastic. Both material types are readily available from sewing and craft stores.

Best results are achieved when using the Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid) to firmly hold the plastic sheets in place. I also taped the edges for extra security.

Maxx Air Settings

Blue Stencil Plastic (pliable)

Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid), tape edges

Force = 110, Speed = 270, Red Blade, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 25

Hard Stencil Plastic

Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid), tape edges

Force = 130, Speed = 80, Red Blade, Passes = 2, Blade Height = 25

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To use your new stencil, lay it over the area of the quilt top you wish to mark, insert marker into channels and mark quilt. Now you have lines to follow to add some special quilting designs to your quilt!

Wild Fashion Prints Heat Transfer Vinyl

Wild Fashion Prints Heat Transfer Vinyl  

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Wild Fashion Prints™ is a preprinted heat transfer vinyl in many popular patterns that add fun to lettering, numbers or your custom design. KNK carries them in 17 different prints including animals, camo, perforated and leather looks. Many of the prints are also textured such as the leather.

And of course, since I am working with my friends Cathy Wiggins and Olde City Quilts to promote a line of garment leather to sewers, I just had to try out the leather vinyl on this t-shirt project. We are vending at the largest quilt show in the USA, Houston Quilt Market and Festival this fall.  We not only wanted to create a unified look when in the booth, but also peak attendee interest when we were spotted away from the booth with a slogan that made folks stop and ask us, what does #itsbetterinleather mean?

First, I created the design for the shirt in Make The Cut! , using the hashtag, #itsbetterinleather and the Olde City Quilts logo.  I did not know what the font name was for the Olde City logo, so I uploaded a picture of it to the WhatTheFont page of My Fonts.com. This great font resource identified the font I needed and directed me to where I could purchase it. Once downloaded, I installed it into Make The Cut! and finished my design.

Filled up the virtual mat with as many as I could fit, mirror imaged the designs and cut on my KNK Maxx Air.

Materials

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

Wild Fashion Prints Heat Transfer Vinyl 

Maxx Air Settings

  • Blade = Red Blade, Blade height = 25
  • Force =55
  • Velocity = 250
  • # Passes = Disabled
  • Blade Offset = .25

The material cuts like all heat transfer vinyl, but since it is textured I did have a bit of an issue when weeding. The second time I increased the force a tad and exposed a tiny bit more blade. The design should be reversed and the clear heat proof carrier sheet face down on the mat.

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I then set up my design on the t-shirts and pressed with my heat press for the recommended time and pressure. Temperature at 325°F – 340°, firm even pressure for 12-15 seconds. Peel the clear backing when cool. Cover with a Telfon© sheet or kraft paper and repress for 3 seconds.

This is a fun material to get some cool effects on clothing, and it is perfect for our #itsbetterinleather message!

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Leather Appliqué for a Rodeo Queen

Rodeo Queen_Side Front

Last month I shared a bit about the leather western show jacket project I have been working on. Since I have now completed the jacket, Rodeo Queen, I wanted to backtrack a little to discuss cutting the appliqués from leather.

Leather is a stretchy material that comes in many different weights and thickness. Leather is classified by the weight quoted in ounces (oz). It can also be identified by the finish, tanning process and suppleness. For this project I worked with garment grade leather, specifically a 1.5 – 2 oz metallic foiled pig suede. As a reference, a 2 oz leather is about the same thickness as a dollar bill folded 3 times.

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Like fabric, it needs to be properly stabilized for a successful cut on our machines. You can stabilize by applying a fusible product to the back or unfinished side, or by ironing on a heavy duty freezer paper. You can also cut the leather bare if you use a very sticky mat. The issue with just using the sticky mat is that the rough side of the leather will leave fibers behind when removed from the mat. It is also possible to stretch the cut unit out of shape if not removed very carefully.

Best results are achieved when using the Fabric Blade and the Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid). For this project, the two colors of leather were slightly different thicknesses so I needed to adjust my blade exposure for each color.

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Maxx Air Settings

Metallic Pig Suede

Pink, 2 oz: Force = 168, Speed = 250, Passes = 2, Blade Height = 13

Silver, 1.5 oz: Force = 160, Speed = 250, Passes = 2, Blade Height = 13

Materials

Metallic Pig Suede

Paper backed fusible web, paper was removed before pressing the leather on to the mat.

Fabric Blade

Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid)

The use of my KNK Maxx Air allowed me to cut seventy of the delicate units, some as small as ½” to ¼” wide in one day!

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Neat Trick for Leather Appliqué

I am working on a big leather appliqué project, a leather western show jacket which will hang in a booth at the International Quilt Market and Festival. The leather appliqués I designed have two sections that must nest together, with some impossibly tiny points.

Cutting leather with our machines can be easily achieved if the leather is properly stabilized. In this case, a paper backed light fusible was used as I need to sew through the appliqués and do not want glue build up on my needle.

So the cutting and sewing is taken care of, but how do I get the parts of each appliqué aligned correctly before fusing to my project? If only there was something like the transfer tape that we use for vinyl, but heat proof so I can iron on it.  Wait a minute, there is! Rhinestone Transfer Tape to the rescue!

Materials

Rhinestone Transfer Tape

After cutting out my leather appliqués, I cut squares of the Rhinestone Transfer Tape about 1” bigger all around than the two-part appliqué. Peel the tape from its backing and lay down sticky side up. Position the first section upside down (right side of section to sticky side of tape).

Before and After

Start laying in the second section next to the first. Use a stiletto and tweezers to guide the section into place as you stick it down. If you need to make adjustments, lift the section and coax into place with the tweezers. Press down from the back on all areas to make sure everything is adhered.

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Flip over and replace the tape backing until you are ready to use the appliqué.

Completed unit

When you are ready to fuse the appliqué, remove the backing and press into place on your project. Iron at the recommended temperature and time for the fusible you are using. If you are fusing to leather like I am or any other material that might be damaged by direct contact with a hot iron, use a pressing sheet to protect your project. Carefully remove the transfer tape and sew.

Apply

I love finding new uses for the products I already have, and this trick will save me loads of time and aggravation!

Done

 

Paper Lantern for a Beach Wedding

CWest_BN_Wedding Reception_Table

My daughter got married last weekend and I crafted my fingers off, creating special gifts and décor for the wedding beach theme. Custom paper lanterns for the reception tables was one of the more complex tasks made easier with my KNK Maxx Air cutting machine.

Materials

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

Force Embossing Tool

KNK Zing/Zing Air large 14″ X 24″ Mat (Blue Grid)

Stardream Cover Weight 105# Paper

Bazzill Cardstock

Gold Vellum

Xyron Adhesive Machine

Double Sided Tape

EK tools Chisel Tip Glue Pen

LED Tea Lights

Adhesive Velcro

Wood bases; ⅝” plywood cut to 5½” squares

Adhesive Velcro

Wood bases; ⅝” plywood cut to 5½” squares

I designed the lantern frame in Make The Cut! and used several purchased SVG files for the overlay units.  (Get your free lantern frame file here! Tall Rectangle Lantern)

After creating a shadow layer of the sand dollar and starfish units. I then welded the shadow layer to the frame along with the coral branch.

Weld

The completed frame was then embossed and cut from the Stardream 105# paper. The score fold lines were embossed first using the Force Embossing Tool and after changing to the Red Blade, the cut layer was executed.

The seahorse, sand dollar and starfish were cut from the Bazzill cardstock in their original sizes. Since the vellum was just simple rectangles I just cut them with a ruler and rotary cutter so I could cut multiple layers of vellum.

I needed to make eleven lanterns. My lanterns were 10” tall and 11.8” wide on each lantern side, so I cut them out in halves. Therefore, I needed to cut 22 lantern halves and each half fit on one piece of the custom size paper I ordered. In addition, each frame needed to be embossed and cut, so machine settings had to be changed at each layer. I also needed 22 seahorses, 22 sand dollars and 22 starfish overlays to complete the project.

That is a lot of mat and paper changing. So to help me remember the settings for each step, I kept the information for each paper type and tool in the Project Notes in the Make The Cut! workspace for the project file. This proved invaluable to help keep the project moving along and it is documented for future use as well.

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Maxx Air Settings

Lantern: Emboss/Score

  • Blade = Force Embossing Tool
  • Force =185
  • Velocity = 200
  • # Passes = 4
  • Blade Offset = 0
  • Lantern: Cut
  • Blade = Red Blade
  • Force =117
  • Velocity = 200
  • # Passes = 2
  • Blade Offset = .25

Seahorse, Starfish and Sand Dollar

  • Blade = Red Blade
  • Force =90
  • Velocity = 200
  • # Passes = 2
  • Blade Offset = .25

Lantern Assembly

  • Pre-fold all score lines on the lantern halves before attaching together.
  • Run the double sided tape on the inside of the lantern around the outside of the rectangle openings in the frame. Apply your vellum “glass”.

Vellum

  • Apply Xyron adhesive to the overlay shapes and then apply to the outside of the frame and vellum.

Assembly

  • Apply double sided tape to a tab and circle the rest of the tab with the liquid glue. Line up and press to adhere. Apply adhesive to the remaining tab and complete lantern.
  • Mount the LED tea lights to the wooden base with Velcro so you can remove them to turn the lights on and off.
  • Slide the completed lantern on the base and you are done!

Bases

The lanterns were a fair bit of work since I did eleven of them, but the tables looked wonderful with the soft glow from the lights. This lantern can be customized to any theme by welding shapes for your special occasion to the lantern frame.

CWest_BN_Wedding Reception_Table