Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Make Your Own Templates for English Paper Piecing

I have been wanting to make a star quilt like this one or the ones over here (excellent video tutorial there, BTW), but I really don't want to wait for the templates to come in the mail! Also, I'd really like to use the plastic templates because it seems like it would be easier, but they cost around 15.00 for a pack of 50!

Last night I was fiddling with lines in a Pages document, thinking that somehow there must be an easy way to make a grid with the right dimensions for the templates.  After half an hour of manipulating irritating lines, I gave up and turned to Bing. After only five or ten minutes, turning up websites involving jewelers and diamond-cutting templates for various karat sizes, I stumbled upon this site:


Five seconds later, a sheet of 1.25 inch 60* diamonds was flying out of my printer.  Success! I made enough templates for about 8 stars, or 64 diamonds, out of a partial piece of template plastic I had left from an applique quilt I made ages ago.   I am sure you can figure it out, but here is what I did:

1. Insert desired size of shape into Incompetech website and print paper template.
2. Line up printed paper underneath your template plastic.
3. Use a quilter's ruler and rotary cutter to cut the design, using the lines on the printed paper as a guide.
4. Punch the center of each diamond with a single hole-punch, for easy removal from the quilt top. ( I saw that some templates have two holes instead of one.)

The website has many other shapes, including equilateral triangles, hexagons and rectangles.  Excellent! The hexagons would be somewhat more difficult since you could not cut them all using long straight lines. Still, most of the other shapes would be quick and easy! I saw Templar (heat resistant template material) for sale online, $13.99 for 6 sheets.  That's 6x's the templates for $2.00 less if you do it yourself!

**Since writing this post, I have found that I prefer templates made from lightweight card stock. I print the diamonds directly on the  card stock and cut with my paper trimmer. There is no need to punch holes in these, and a lightweight card stock is fairly easy to baste.**


  1. Thank you so much for the web site for the 60 degree diamonds! I've been cutting them out after marking with a protractor, and it has *not* been pretty...

    1. You're welcome! The first time I used the template I made plastic ones, but I have found that I prefer the paper ones and have switched to a thin cardstock. That makes it even easier because I cut most of them with my craft paper cutter!

  2. Thanks a lot, Amy! I was searching the Internet for 60 degrees diamonds, and then I found your site on which you recommended Incompetech! Now I can start quilting stars! Good luck and greetings from Austria! Ilsy

  3. I printed very small diamonds. What steps should I use?
    Thank you

  4. For very small diamonds I would recommend using a heavy paper or lightweight card stock instead of template plastic. Although the template plastic is very durable, I have found over the course of a larger project that I actually prefer using a lightweight card stock, because the edges are crisper and the project remains more flexible as it's pieced together.The printing and cutting instructions don't change. :)

  5. I can guarantee that you did not like the Templar ones because they are an imitation of the Original Quilt Patis using the wrong kid of plastic. Quilt Patis are a softer more flexible & durable plastic than the Templar. The advantages are that the fabric doesn't slip as much and the flexibility allows you to be able to manipulate the pieces for sewing together more like the paper pieces WITHOUT breaking or creasing. My Original Quilt Patis were featured on Simply Quilts in Oct 1999 (though they have been a product since 1996 after 12 years of teaching my technique internationally). You can see my webpage at http://quiltpati.tripod.com

    1. I am sure you have a good product, and I don't doubt there would be benefit in having complete consistency in size by purchasing your pre-cut Quilt Patis. But to be clear, I have used both thicker template (you are right it's too stiff) and very thin flexible template material, and I simply prefer the card stock. I like basting a few quick stitches through the paper and being able to have 100's of pieces on hand for free, without either worrying about taking them out and reusing them as the quilt grows, or spending a significant amount of money on templates for a large quilt. I haven't had any trouble with breaking or creasing while stitching, although as the piece grows there is some folding from folding the project in between sewing sessions. But that doesn't affect the shape of the finished project, because the stitching is already done.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!!