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Ask the Experts

What’s the best way to transfer a quilting stencil?

quilting stencil

A reader wants to know about using a stencil for quilting lines. We offer several suggestions.

“What is the best way to transfer a stencil onto a quilt before quilting?”

– A Quilter’s Review reader

If by “transfer a stencil” you mean the iron-on stencils, please consult the package directions. My experience is that these may not wash off completely and I would be very wary. Do make a test first (and not on your quilt) to see if the quilting lines will wash out after you have quilted them.

If by “transfer a stencil” you mean trace through a plastic stencil, then the best marking instruments are those that give you lines you can see easily and that can be completely removed after you’ve done your quilting. Generally, those instruments that make a nice dark line are harder to get out. Those that come out easily don’t make a very dark line.

I have had good luck with “Wonder Markers” and with the Quilter’s Choice Marking Pencils. You can find more information about the latter with my review on them on this page.

If my quilt has very large pieces and intricate quilting (like an Amish Center Diamond) I will mark the pieces before they’re stitched. Otherwise, I mark the top before it is basted.

Sometimes, when I hand quilt it is easier to mark very simple lines (say, 1/4 inch from the seam line) as I get to it. It really depends on how you like to work and the type of design you’re marking.

Suggestions from other quilters:

Judy K. writes:

I have had good luck using Crayola washable markers with stencils. They come in a large range of colors, have always washed out completely, and the points are wide enough that they fill the stencil cutout areas, eliminating the problem of which side to trace along, a problem that gave me fits when I used a sharp pencil.

Marilyn M. writes:

I, too, use the Crayola washable markers and love them. You can scribble all over the fabric, even after it is sandwiched. And they wash out wonderfully with hot water

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