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Thread: Opinion on quilting using stenciles vs ruler templates

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    Opinion on quilting using stenciles vs ruler templates

    As a new gal to the quilting world, the time has come to try quilting. I will admit it appears daunting to me, as I never could draw, and I think that those who have a talent for drawing have a certain visualazation talent that others don't. (like me)

    Who has tried both stenciles and rulers to start with? Did you find one more difficult than the other?
    I have watched videos on both, though there are not many videos showing use of stencils. I know I need to try both, but before investing a bunch of money in one or the other, can you give me some advice and what you experienced with either both or one of them.

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    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    I have tried stencils using a marking pencil/pen and liked that. I have only done ruler work on a long arm but later this week I'm taking a class to learn about doing it on my domestic sewing machine. I think the rulers would be more difficult as you only have to follow the line on the stencil whereas the ruler you have to master holding the ruler and moving the sandwich at the same time. You may need a special foot for your machine as well.
    A husband is the perfect confidant to tell your secrets to - he can't reveal them to anyone else because he wasn't really listening when you told him!

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    I'm going to assume you're quilting on your domestic sewing machine and not a longarm.

    On a domestic, you usually need a ruler foot to use rulers, and yes, you'll need to practice holding everything down and moving everything together at the same time. I didn't find it that hard, but depending on what kind of shank you have, low shank machines have issues with using the ruler behind the foot. If you have a Janome with Accufeed, on some, the Accufeed foot can also interfere with moving the ruler. You'll want to practice before trying it on your quilt.

    I love marking stencils with Crayola Ultra Washable Markers. So cheap and so easy to wash out! Love, love, love them. I just finished marking another quilt with them and I've never had a problem with any of the colors washing out regardless of how long they've been on the quilt. Using a Pounce is faster, but some have had issues with the blue powder washing out. Also depends on what you're marking and what kind of stencil you have. Some stencils are purposely made to work with a pounce and instead of having an actual clean opening for marking, it's mesh for the powder to go through. I haven't tried marking with the Crayolas on that kind yet.

    I definitely found it cheaper to start with stencils since the rulers are quite expensive. You're not "supposed" to use your cutting rulers for quilting because depending on the type of ruler foot you have, it's possible for the ruler to slip under your ruler foot and if your needle hits it while in motion, you can seriously damage your machine. However, that being said, I've done it on mine since my ruler foot glides, not hops, and I had it set low enough that there was no danger of it slipping under. The longarm rulers are usually 1/4in thick, and they do make specialty rulers for domestic machines that are 3/8in thick to slide under the low shank in the back but I do find those harder to find. I'd say the average ruler costs $20+ and stencils are usually $5+? Depends on how you want to do it.

    I found it easiest in the beginning to mark a motif with a stencil, like a flower, and then use loops or meandering to travel to the next marked motif. That way, I didn't have to mark the *entire* quilt, and it was easier to manage moving the quilt inside the throat of the machine. If I'm marking something now, I still prefer to do it that way if I can.

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    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    Stencils are a lot less expensive than rulers. If you trace the stencil with a disappearing pen, it takes a long time. If you get the stencils that you can use a Pounce Pad on, they're more expensive, but quicker to mark. There are stencils that just mark a grid, or stencils that mark a particular motif. Both are pretty awesome, and are great practice for doing free-motion.

    I do love my rulers! I can start with doing a ruler design, then fill it in with free-motion, and it looks more consistent because of the nice, straight ruler work. There are a lot of rulers out there, so there's a huge amount of designs to choose from. I started with Westalee Rulers, on my little Bernina, and liked them so much that I got a set for my longarm. HandiQuilter has a Ruler of the Month Club (that's going on right now), and they are all rulers designed by Leoni West, who is the designer of the Westalee Rulers. If the machine you're quilting on can take a 1/4" thick ruler, joining the Club is a great way to get some great rulers.
    Annette in Utah

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    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    one thing that you need to be wary about with stencils-there are those that are continous lines and others that require lots of stops/starts.

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    Hi Sephie, Are these the ones that you used? https://www.amazon.com/Crayola-Broad...85&sr=1-3&th=1

    I have a regular home sewing machine which is an older Babylock Allure III. It has a low shank. Do you use the typical plastic type stencils? Any place you would recommend getting them? I was looking at those as well as the other softer material ones, which I assume are made specifically for the pounce. Do you tend to use an all over design with them or do you use smaller ones for individual blocks?

    You sure those Crayolas wash out, even on white fabric???

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    I use these: https://www.amazon.com/Crayola-Ultra...sr=1-4-catcorr

    You want the fine line ones so they fit inside the stencil. Yes! They absolutely wash out of white fabric. So, so awesome. Cannot express how much I love them.

    I've used the typical plastic ones and bought them from regular big box stores, online, whatever. Connecting Threads has some of the mesh pounce ones, but you can use the pounce on normal plastic ones too. You can use continuous line ones for an all over design, or use smaller ones for blocks, or ones made specifically for blocks. You can also buy template plastic and make your own!

    I can't find the Crayola Washable Marker test article/blog right now, and I can't remember if it was on here, but I know we've linked it on the board before. Trying to get kids to bed right now so can't search for it, but I'll try to find it later if you haven't found it first. Yay google. But if you're worried, you can always test it out on your fabric first. I've never had a problem with the markers. The quilt I finished marking tonight, I used a combination of black, blue, and red!

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    My advice is to try a stencil you like that doesnt have many crossovers . It can be confusing . Practice stenciling on large paper with a pencil , then remove the stencil and use your finger to do a practice run. Then use a Crayold Ultra washable marker to stencil on a practice sandwich, then quilt to get the feel of it.

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    For a beginner, you might consider sewing straight lines with a walking foot. The lines can be very interesting if you make them different widths apart and/or going different directions.

    Happy quilting.

  10. #10
    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    Also, not a stencil or a ruler but this technique also works
    - you can trace the shape you want onto light tissue paper (there is a commercial- made-for- quilting- brand called Golden Threads), or use dollar store stuff. Just don't use a ball point pen or marker to trace, a light pencil line works best for me.
    Pin to the area you want to quilt the design, stitch, tear away paper. If the paper sticks, you can moisten a Q tip and "help" it to loosen.
    Complex designs can be done with very little money invested.
    A husband is the perfect confidant to tell your secrets to - he can't reveal them to anyone else because he wasn't really listening when you told him!

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    Super Member Kitsie's Avatar
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    And they are usually available at a local store near you also.
    http://s1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh485/KitsieH/
    Never regret growing older, its a privilege denied to many.
    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GEMRM View Post
    Also, not a stencil or a ruler but this technique also works
    - you can trace the shape you want onto light tissue paper (there is a commercial- made-for- quilting- brand called Golden Threads), or use dollar store stuff. Just don't use a ball point pen or marker to trace, a light pencil line works best for me.
    Pin to the area you want to quilt the design, stitch, tear away paper. If the paper sticks, you can moisten a Q tip and "help" it to loosen.
    Complex designs can be done with very little money invested.
    Thank you Gemrm. From what I saw on YouTube, in order to repeat design several times, the instructor Neddle Punched a bunch of papers with the sketched one on top, and the rest of the papers underneath had the design on them with only needle punches. When I saw this, my first reaction was, my eyes are not good enough to see those needle punches I don't think. What do you do when you want to make the design multiple times?

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    Just wanted to say, I can't draw my way out of a wet paper bag, but for some reason, I can FMQ. I can't even draw the FMQ designs on paper! So, don't count yourself out it may not be the problem you think it's going to be. Give it a try on some practice sandwiches.

    I've used quilting stencils to do borders by using a blue water soluble marker to trace them onto the fabric and then just follow along. Works great.

    Watson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Watson View Post
    Just wanted to say, I can't draw my way out of a wet paper bag, but for some reason, I can FMQ. I can't even draw the FMQ designs on paper! So, don't count yourself out it may not be the problem you think it's going to be. Give it a try on some practice sandwiches.

    I've used quilting stencils to do borders by using a blue water soluble marker to trace them onto the fabric and then just follow along. Works great.

    Watson

    Yes, that is me Watson. After watching about a dozen or more videos on YouTube explaining FMQ for beginners, I got out some paper and tried to draw the "easy" designs on paper as they demonstrated. It was pathetic. A three year old could have done better.

    Good to hear you were able to master it dispite your inabillity to draw. I hope I'm as lucky. It sure would be nice to learn FMQ. I just love the look of pretty quilting

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    Yes, they wash out. I just finished and washed a quilt that had white in it, and had both blue and green lines on it. And it had sat folded up in the closet for almost a month before I was able to do the quilting, so I was a little worried about the lines coming out. Washed and dried with no problems.

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    I took a class which involved using rulers on a domestic sewing machine. The class was excellent but I found using them cumbersome. I'm not the most coordinated person so maybe that's the problem. A person in my Guild was kind enough to ask if I would like to borrow the required set for the class since she had taken it so I didn't need to invest in a lot of supplies I may or may not use. My preferred method is still disappearing soluble markers.

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    You can also draw your designs onto Press and Seal to stitch over and tear off. It will hold down to your block although I sometimes use a larger piece and pin the corners well away from where I am stitching. It is easy to tear off. I am with those of you who do not have the talent to draw with just my needle as I stitch.

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    Super Member GEMRM's Avatar
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    If I need to do multiple repeats of the same pattern, I just draw it multiple times... or sometimes, I photo copy onto thin (cheap) copy paper, then stitch and tear away - using tweezers held against the stitching while using another pair of tweezers to tear, and moistening stubborn paper gets the removal done!
    I try not to be in a hurry when tracing (i.e. over morning cup of tea I'll do some, and some more at lunch etc).
    I've done the unthreaded needle punches through layers of paper too but I'm not as big a fan of that.... I need to see the lines I guess to keep on track!
    A husband is the perfect confidant to tell your secrets to - he can't reveal them to anyone else because he wasn't really listening when you told him!

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    Super Member BSKTLOFR-QUILTER's Avatar
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    I can't even trace a straight line!! Totally no artistic talent. I came to the realization that the purpose of quilting is to hold the 3 pieces together so I am happy to just do the meandering or stippling design. I ventured out and do some practice sandwiches using different methods every once in a while so maybe one of these days it will all come together. Good luck and just keep trying different methods until you find your nitch.

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    Super Member Fabric Galore's Avatar
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    I prefer stencils if I am not doing free motion quilting. Thanks for the tip of Crayola Ultra Washable Markers. They sound perfect.

  21. #21
    Super Member Fabric Galore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sephie View Post
    I'm going to assume you're quilting on your domestic sewing machine and not a longarm.

    On a domestic, you usually need a ruler foot to use rulers, and yes, you'll need to practice holding everything down and moving everything together at the same time. I didn't find it that hard, but depending on what kind of shank you have, low shank machines have issues with using the ruler behind the foot. If you have a Janome with Accufeed, on some, the Accufeed foot can also interfere with moving the ruler. You'll want to practice before trying it on your quilt.

    I love marking stencils with Crayola Ultra Washable Markers. So cheap and so easy to wash out! Love, love, love them. I just finished marking another quilt with them and I've never had a problem with any of the colors washing out regardless of how long they've been on the quilt. Using a Pounce is faster, but some have had issues with the blue powder washing out. Also depends on what you're marking and what kind of stencil you have. Some stencils are purposely made to work with a pounce and instead of having an actual clean opening for marking, it's mesh for the powder to go through. I haven't tried marking with the Crayolas on that kind yet.

    I definitely found it cheaper to start with stencils since the rulers are quite expensive. You're not "supposed" to use your cutting rulers for quilting because depending on the type of ruler foot you have, it's possible for the ruler to slip under your ruler foot and if your needle hits it while in motion, you can seriously damage your machine. However, that being said, I've done it on mine since my ruler foot glides, not hops, and I had it set low enough that there was no danger of it slipping under. The longarm rulers are usually 1/4in thick, and they do make specialty rulers for domestic machines that are 3/8in thick to slide under the low shank in the back but I do find those harder to find. I'd say the average ruler costs $20+ and stencils are usually $5+? Depends on how you want to do it.

    I found it easiest in the beginning to mark a motif with a stencil, like a flower, and then use loops or meandering to travel to the next marked motif. That way, I didn't have to mark the *entire* quilt, and it was easier to manage moving the quilt inside the throat of the machine. If I'm marking something now, I still prefer to do it that way if I can.
    I normally do free motion quilting but I also love to use stencils. Thanks for the tip about Crayola Ultra Washable Markers. They sound like the perfect solution.

  22. #22
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I marked a dark quilt with yellow chalk - it was very hard to remove. I've never marked another quilt. I usually just free 'hand' my work or draw on tissue paper with a red permanent marked. When I had multiple flowers to do, I drew one in black marker on a piece of paper, the quickly traced it on the tissue with the red marker. That way I only had to draw it once. I do practice my desired pattern on paper with pencil, then hang it above the machine.

  23. #23
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I have used stencils and am still learning with the ruler foot and rulers on my Brother PQ1500. I got a westfalee foot and their starter ruler and have gotten another ruler too. I use the crayola thin point ultra washable markers with stencils or to draw a design and they always wash out, but, I also always test on scraps before I use them, just to be sure. It does take soap to wash them out, at least for me. I had a gray chalk that has never washed out no matter what I treated it with, but it was only on one part of something I hand quilted. And it is for me, so I just ignore it. I also use the disappearing pens with stencils if I am going to do something right away. I used a paper with a design printed on it, before I learned better techniques, and it worked, but not something I want to do on a regular basis.
    Alyce

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