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Girl Power - Quilt stencils


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Hi everyone,

This weekend I followed a technique described by Kay Anderson in the IMQA.org magazine OnTrack, Fall 2008 (page 18): how to create your own quilt stencils using a Dremel tool, and I loved it!

Real Girl Power to dive in the toolbox and take a mini drill to create your own perfect permanent quilt stencils. Kay describes using special stencil material, but by lack of it, I used a files folder, which works just fine too.

I used a size 1/16 drill and it took me about 10 minutes to create the stencil shown in the image below.

I made the pattern in Pre-Design Studio (of course :)

and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to design your own pattern and turn it into a permanent stencil.

Four different methods of creating a pattern in Pre-Design Studio, print and turn it into a quilt stencil are shown in a movie on page:


So girls, get your power tools and enjoy!



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Hmm, I still haven't mastered the art of adding two photos in one post.

Here's another photo with the quilt stencil and the result on the fabric after using a pounce block.

I used a 1/16 size drill and could have used a smaller size. But you can see how well the stencil works!

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that Kay Anderson, the author of the article in OnTrack mentioned in my previous post, will be our Teacher's Angel during all classes at MQS2009!

For descriptions of our three different hands-on digitizing classes at MQS2009 visit


For those of you who are in our classes at Claudia's APQS studio in Krefeld next week: we will bring the dremel and the stencils to show you!



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loes, Now, THAT looks interesting!! Do ya think my DH will let me get into his tools???? That might scare him!!!:D I need to get one of those pounce pads. The first quilt I did a stencil on, I used the pounce powder, but used a Q-tip to mark it. The pad would be quicker. Thanks for all of your neat ideas you share!! linda

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I'm glad you are enjoying the stencil making method. It is empowering to

be able to create what you need, when you need it, just exactly how you

want it. Necessity is the mother of invention I always say. The file

folder will work fine, but clear material will allow for better

placement and alignment. If you can't find Dura Lar, try those clear

report covers you can get at an office supply store, or the 3M

transparency films. The drill size you used is about right for the file

folder material. As a rule of thumb, the thinner your stencil material,

the smaller the drill bit. If you get the holes to small on a thick

material it doesn't work as well.

Today I bought a hair brush set and the box lid was a clear stiff

plastic, I'll be saving that for a stencil for sure.

I created my first design and stencil useing Pre-Design today. It turned

out great and was just what I needed for the client quilt I was working

on. So I was thinking about you today too.

Love, Peace and God's Light,


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Heidi, I used a cutting board (from the kitchen - which is Theo's domain by the way) when I drilled the holes in the plastic.

As soon as you go through the plastic, you can feel it and will automatically lift the drill, so the cutting board isn't even damaged.

As you can see on the image, the holes are pretty big, so next time I will use a smaller drill.

Because of the pretty big holes I only rubbed the pounce block once, very carefully and got those clearly visible lines.

I think a Chalk spray might be better, at least it won't bounce when quilting. But smaller holes and a foam brush with chalk will probably be the best combination (in any case the cheapest).

Kay, again thanks for the brilliant idea!

it's even addictive to create truly unique plastic stencils. I think I am gonna need a walk-in closet to keep them all :)


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Originally posted by sspingler

I never thought of doing it that way.....neat!! I have always done it on heavy overhead projector sheets with a denim needle in the sewing machine.

Thanks for your "sewing/denim needle/overhead sheets" tip! I didn't dare to try that yet.

It would open up a new world of possibilities again: it would mean that I can create stencils using my embroidery machine too???

I could take the drawing from Pre-Design Studio and instead of printing it, choose menu File > Convert to Stitches (set it to single running stitch type, stitch length 3 mm), save the resulting DST-file on a USB thumb drive and take it into my embroidery machine. Hoop cutaway stabilizer, put an overhead projector sheet on top of that, and then embroider using the denim needle.

Wow, that would even be quicker.

As soon as I have the nerve to try that, I will post a photo here :) And of course I have the nerve to do that, remember Girl Power?? After all, I have embroidered on wood too...


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Girl Power continued!!

1. I opened my drawing in Pre-Design Studio and chose File > Convert to Stitches. Settings:

stitch length 3 mm

Normal stitch

No tie in/off

Saved the resulting USB file on a thumb drive.

2. I took an overhead sheet and cut it to fit the hoop of my embroidery machine. Made little incisions on the sides of the plastic, matching the hoop shape. That way I didn't even have to hoop the overhead sheet. It automatically stayed in place. How easy can it get??

3. Opened the DST file in my machine. Took the top and bobbin thread out and turned the machine's thread sensor off.

4. Attached the hoop and hit the start button, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

And wow, it just works like a charm!!

In 2 minutes I had a plastic quilt stencil.

Love it!!



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Of course I can use the embroidery machine to embroider/quilt the pattern itself and wouldn't need a stencil, but for large quilts it's a great way to create quilt stencils in just minutes.

So Linda, if your DH doesn't like you to use the dremel tool, then you just have to tell him you need an embroidery machine :)

And Sue, you already have an embroidery machine and Pre-Design, so upgrade to Pre-Design Studio and you don't have to pay those poor innocent children to make quilt stencils :)

Sharon, thanks again for the sewing-stencils tip.



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THAT is even more amazing!! I'll have to look into Pre -Design quite seriously. Is the OHP sheet not actually tight in the hoop, just sort of sandwiched?

I suppose you could also use some of the fabric kind of soluble stabiliser with or without thread to do this too...


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Hi Linzy,

I just cut the plastic sheet in the same shape as the official hoop template. That way it just stays in place, without any other way of hooping. With the extra incisions halfway on the sides of the overhead sheet, it just stays put in the hoop. It took only 2 minutes to embroider the stencil in the image.

Information about Pre-Design Studio:


Click on the (hand) buttons on the home page to see all uses of Pre-Design Studio.

ehm, correction: that is faaaar from all uses of Pre-Design Studio: I have a customer who uses Pre-Design Studio's DXF files to send to a plasma cutter and she cuts metal fences and signs.

And wood carvers can use the Pre-Design Studio patterns.

So how about giving Pre-Design Studio as a present to your husband?

And there's a lady who uses the program for her Cricut machine to cut aplique fabric :).

And for those of you who sell patterns: give them a professional look (same as in pattern books) by drawing them in Pre-Design Studio. Then you can use the same pattern to sell as DXF file, as a PDF panto etc.

And... well, I'll just stop here :)


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Originally posted by hmerrill

Loes that is way cool! Now I need to get my software activated and loaded! Can you magically make 5 extra hours in a day for me?

Hi Heidi,

Using Pre-Design Studio will save at least half an hour for each pattern you would create in any other way. So the more patterns you make, the more time you will save :)

As easy as that!



You must be a mind reader!!

I just finished writing a new blog post for the AnnTheGran.com website (it's not uploaded yet), about saving time :)

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