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!

mtc-quilt-stencil_opt

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

quilt-stencils-5x7_opt

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!