Usually, the word ‘stencil’ brings to mind lettering stencils and scrapbooking but that is not its only application. In the realm of quilting, a stencil can be used to trace a design on a quilting material before quilting. These stencils have grooves forming patterns that show where the fabric must be sewn. While freestyle quilting is simple, stenciled designs are more elaborate an serve as a great way to easily take quilting to the next level. Stencils can be used to fill negative space, create a complex border, add focal pieces or even cover the entire quilt with design. After the patterns are traced, they are stitched to form depressions by hand or using the quilting needle in a sewing machine.
To use a stencil, the basic supplies of quilting are needed along with the stencil and a non-permanent marking tool.. Once the top of the quilt has been finished, the top of the quilt, batting, and backing should be basted together. The stencil is placed at the center of the quilt and traced. Try to use a design that compliments the theme of the quilt and is not overly large or too small. If more than one design is being used, the stencil is repositioned and marked again. Use marking tools that will fade away eventually and that stand out clearly against the fabric of the quilt. Remember, it is better to take time to position the stencil initially than to realize a mistake at the very end.
The quilter can also use carbon paper, tailor’s chalk or even cellophane to transfer the design from the stencil to the pieced top. By using a stencil, not only will the quilter get consistently equal designs throughout the quilt, but it will be easier to reproduce the design on other quilts and will lend the finished quilt a more professional finishing.
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