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Your complete guide to quilting stencils

Expand your quilting horizons! We've created a complete guide to quilting stencils which covers where to buy them, the best quilting stencils on the market, and a step-by-step tutorial by pro Karlee Porter.

How to use quilting stencils

Quilting stencils are a brilliant tool when it comes to creating unique, detailed quilts. They help you stitch designs onto your fabric which would be incredibly tricky to make by hand or through free-motion quilting. They’re ideal for beginners too as they made the process of adding patterns much less intimidating! Even as seasoned quilters we still love using quilting stencils.

To help you master quilting stencils, we’ve created a mini guide. We’re going to cover where you can buy quilting stencils, and some of the best quilting stencils to buy so you can pick up your own set of templates. We’re also going to cover how to use your quilting stencils and some top tips for machine quilting. It really is a comprehensive guide to quilting stencils!

Make sure you’ve got your sewing machine handy, after reading this guide you’re going to want to start quilting immediately!

Where to buy quilting stencils

There are plenty of places you can buy quilting stencils from. All the big retailers, both online and in-store, sell quilting stencils in a range of designs, sizes, and styles.

Make sure you check your local craft stores to see if they sell quilting stencils but if not you can find them online! You can find quilting stencils from the following online retailers.

If you’re not sure where to start with all these quilting stencils then we’ve rounded up our top five for some inspiration!

5 of the best quilting stencils

1. DRERIO’s three-pack of quilting stencils

DRERIO sells some fantastic quilting stencils at a really affordable price. This three-pack of quilting stencils includes multiple motifs that are perfect for adding to quilt projects of all sizes.

We love that they’re made from transparent acrylic, meaning they’re sturdier, less likely to slip and you can see what you’re working on underneath. Each stencil has a gap of 1-1.5 cm, making them suitable for most quilting machines.

It’s important to check the width of your presser foot before you pick a quilting stencil. You might find some are too narrow to fit your needle smoothly. This will make it awkward and clunky to sew.

2. Crafter’s Companion’s geometric quilting stencils

Crafter’s Companion sells a variety of quilting stencils in lots of different styles. This modern geometric two-pack includes one main design and a series of other border and corner patterns.

These stencils can be reused for multiple projects and work brilliantly on 12 x 12 blocks. They’re ideal for stitching onto a quilt block which you then turn into a quilt!

3. ZHONGLEFA’s floral four-pack of quilting stencils

For all the nature lovers out there, ZHONGLEFA’s quilting stencil pack is for you. This pretty pack includes two floral designs, one leaf design, and a Celtic stencil.

Measuring 12cm x 12cm, each stencil is quite dainty with just a small gap for stitching. This makes them ideal if you want to add more precise designs to your projects or if you’re looking into machine embroidery.

4. Sitrda’s three-pack of quilting border stencils

These quilting stencils are designed for stitchers who are focusing on borders. This lovely three-pack will add some extra flair and detail to your quilt borders. Made from plastic, you can reuse them over and over again, making the cost per use very affordable!

The rectangular shape of the stencil is handy too as you can line it up with the edge of your quilt to ensure your stitch the pattern on straight. If you’re on the hunt for some thread to use with these quilting stencils then we recommend heading over to our collection of the best quilting threads.

5. THEALESE’s Sashiko quilting stencils

Finally, we found the perfect quilting stencil for sashiko embroidery obsessives! Complete with the classic scalloped sashiko design, this quilting stencil will help you achieve smooth curves every time.

Looking for more useful quilting tools?

A good ruler is another tool all quilters should keep in their kit. Head over to our collection of the best quilting rulers to find yours. 

How to use quilting stencils

Karlee Porter has been working as a full-time professional in the quilting industry since 2015. She has a best-selling book, Graffiti Quilting: A Simple Guide to Complex Designs, as well as over 1,000 of her digital quilting designs, on her website.

Karlee’s extensive knowledge made her the perfect person to create a step-by-step quilting stencils guide for us. Karlee has not only created the instructions below but she’s also made a video tutorial.

This quick video guide is here to help you get to grips with using quilting stencils. Watch Karlee’s video below and you’ll be a pro at using quilting stencils in no time.

For written instructions, read on and learn how to use your quilting stencils…


You Will Need

  • Fabric
  • Chalk pencil, Frixion pen or even a pounce pad, to mark the fabric

Step 1

Using quilting stencils is very easy.

First, place the stencil on your fabric in the position you would like the quilting design.

Machine quilting tips

Step 2

Now use a chalk pencil, Frixion pen or even a pounce pad and trace over the lines. You’ll need something to mark the fabric with as well (take a look at our collection of fabric markers for this task).

Step 3

Once you’ve traced the design head over to your sewing machine (if you don’t have one head over to our round-up of the best sewing machines for quilting.)

Place your needle within the quilting stencil and guide it around the pattern.  Use the lines as a guide while you sew.



Step 4

When you’ve finished stitching within the quilting stencil, finish off and remove your needle.

You’ll be left with a pretty, neat and complete design on your fabric!


Top tips for machine quilting with quilting stencils

Karlee shares her top tips for machine quilting to help you master this essential skill! For more machine quilting best practices then check out our 30 machine quilting tips.

1. Get to know your machine

Take it out to dinner first, so to speak. Make an effort to understand tension settings, needle sizes and thread weights. I truly believe that every quilting machine model can make extremely beautiful works of art, but they are only as good as their handler! When you take care of them, they’ll take care of you.

How to do free motion quilting

2. Enjoy the practice time

When people ask me how I get such perfect pebbles, I tell them that I have literally quilted over ten yards of just pebbles! Anything you want to get proficient at will take time.

A lot of times, people only see my finished work and fail to remember that thousands of hours of practice went into a piece that I can now achieve in a little under an evening.

3. Make quilts for you!

I say this every time I have an audience: “Unless someone is paying you money to quilt for them, don’t take their advice on your quilts.” Make quilts that make you happy.

Machine quilting tips

4. Keep cheap fabric on hand for practice sessions

At the beginning of my quilting journey, there was nothing more intimidating to me than spending a tonne of time piecing a quilt top, only to never actually quilt it out of fear that I would completely ruin it.

Buy the cheapest solid fabric you can find, cut it into fat quarters and make some quilt sandwiches to keep on hand. When you feel inspired to try out a new quilting technique, whether it’s a free motion motif, stencil or marking method, use one of those spare quilt sandwiches to try it out. It’ll save you a lot of heartaches and unpicking time.

Give your projects an extra edge with quilting stencils

Quilting stencils are a wonderful tool for both beginner and expert quilters. They help you to create neat, intricate patterns and provide you with inspirational designs when you’re in a creative rut.

Build up your collection of quilting stencils and pop them in your craft kit ready for your next project. Be warned though, growing your quilting stencil stash can become quite addicting!

Discover more quilting essentials with Gathered

Now you’ve mastered using quilting stencils you can focus on other quilting tools.

Head over to our quilting tools guide to pick up some new equipment, improve your skills and boost your quilting knowledge!