Friday, April 23, 2021

A to Z Quilt Challenge: T = Templates

For the month of April, I have taken up Frédérique's Quilting Patchwork and Applique challenge to blog daily (except Sundays) on a quilt topic related to a letter of the alphabet.  

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In the early days of quilting and the later Quilting Revival, quilters were taught to make piecing Templates in the shape of the squares, rectangles and triangles they needed to cut out for their quilt projects.  Those templates would be made from cardboard or template plastic.  To make the blocks, quilters would trace around them with a pencil and then cut out the shapes with scissors.

From "Readers Digest Quilting School", 1993 

With the advent of rotary cutters and acrylic rulers, we no longer use templates for the basic shapes.  However templates still have a place in contemporary quilting.  In this case, I'm not talking about templates in the traditional sense but tools, sometimes also called rulers, that help quilters make specific blocks or make shapes easier to cut or make the blocks faster to piece using rotary cutting methods.  

One of my favorite blocks to piece are Flying Geese.  Of all the methods I've been taught, my "go to" method is the one taught by Eleanor Burns of Quilt In A Day.  Its formal name is "triangle-pieced rectangles" but I call it the "Two Squares" method.  From two squares you get four Flying Geese.

Piecing for Bonnie Hunter's "On Ringo Lake" mystery.

You can square these up with a regular ruler.  However, when you have to do a lot of them, it can be quicker to have a template marked with the exact size you have to trim them to.

I'm missing one, it must be in with a project!

Eleanor came out with this new slotted ruler which means now I have one template that can do the same work as all of the others.

Lemoyne Stars are one of those traditional blocks that had always been rumored to be "difficult".  Made up of diamonds and pieced together with set-in corner squares using "Y" seams, I figured I'd never make that block.  Then Deb Tucker came out with her "Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star" template and "never" became "now I can"! 


Templates can be expensive so I particularly like if a template can make whatever blocks it works up in multiple sizes.  This way any project I might want to use it in can be accommodated.

The RWB star was made for my "Valor" quilt.

Deb's ruler can make these stars from 3" up to 12".  The diamonds and background triangles are cut from strip piece sets and the ruler and accompanying instructions do all the math for you.  Deb also has additional "Technique Sheets" which give instructions for piecing variations of this block.  Needless to say I have big plans for using this ruler even more in the future!

The Twister templates were all the rage some years back.  As a Gadget Fanatic, I caved and got a set.

See Jenny Doan demo it here.

This technique is fun because you just piece squares together and you get the pinwheels by sub-cutting them with the template.  I made a doll quilt with the small template and I helped my MIL make a gift quilt with the large one (sorry, I don't have a picture of that one) .

Gathering A Garden in a Twister

Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings got permission from the designer of the original rulers to make mini versions.  I lucked up on a BOGO sale of the set!

I have plans to make one soon with the smaller template to add another quilt to my mini quilt display.  

Finally, there are those aspirational templates.  For years I wanted to make a "Circle Magic" style quilt and finally scored the template for $10 at a guild "destash" sale a few years back.  

However, last year I saw a Missouri Star Quilt Co. video about "Circle Magic" projects.  They have purchased the rights to the original template design and have updated it and made a new one for use with charm squares!  I finally got a chance to purchase that one recently.  I've always liked this quilt technique because it's quilt-as-you-go.  When you are done piecing, you are also done with the quilting.

One day, when I'm ready to make the mother-of-all quilts -- a "Dear Jane" -- I will be ready!


 Do you like to use templates?  Are there new ones you look forward to getting?

Linking up with Frédérique and the other Challengers at Quilting Patchwork and Applique.  Bonne journée! 

3 comments:

Frédérique said...

Oh, I love your Circle Magic template! I like templates for fussy cutting too. You have quite an extensive template collection ;))

Vireya said...

I still have the cardboard square and triangle template I used when first taught American-style patchwork! Your collection of templates is interesting - I haven't seen most of them before.

I made my own version of the Twister one out of template plastic when I wanted to try that technique. I have a set of Apple Core templates (as mentioned on your "Ruler" post), and recently obtained a set that make up hexagon-based log cabins. But that's it for templates,I think.

Rebecca Grace said...

Ah, but I DO still use old school templates sometimes for basic shapes like HSTs, squares, or rectangles! I use them if I have my heart set on making a block with a finished size that doesn't yield "ruler friendly" numbers for rotary cutting, Instead of trying to rotary cut something at 2 13/16, I'll use EQ8 to print templates for my block at exactly the size I need, right onto cardstock.