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Learn How to Make a Window Template

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What is a Window Template?
How to Make a Window Template for Quilting

Make a Window Template

Janet Wickell
Window templates look just as the name implies -- templates with an outer edge to mark around, and with an open 'window' at their center, another edge that can also be used to mark fabric. Window templates are used when you want to mark a cutting line and a seam line without switching templates.

  • A window template helps you center a motif for in order to fussy cut a fabric.
  • The templates work nicely when it's time to cut hand-piecing patches, where the sewing line should be visible.
  • Applique patches cut with window templates will have clearly marked lines for areas that must be folded under.
  • A window template can help even if a shape is can be rotary cut -- center the template on top of the shape and mark the seam lines, or put dots at seam intersections to show you where to stop sewing set-in seams.

Rotary cutting techniques have significantly reduced the need for templates, but you'll encounter times when a template will help you construct accurate patchwork, and templates are usually a must for applique.

Make a Window Template

Thin cardboard and manila envelopes both work fine for window templates, but durable template plastic (or vinyl) produces longer-lasting tools, and gridded plastic makes it easy to draw and cut straight template lines.

  1. Draw, glue or tape your finished size pattern piece right side up onto template material. Trace or cut around it, leaving the taped edge until last, and removing the tape in order to cut.

    To work on the back of template material -- if you prefer to view the pattern through plastic when tracing it, place the shape's right side against the back of plastic.

  2. Add the appropriate seam allowance around the shape, or inward from the drawn lines if the shape included a seam allowance.

  3. Cut out the shape on its outermost line.

  4. Cut on the inner line -- a craft knife or very sharp=pointed scissors will help start the cut

  5. Place the template face-down against the reverse side of fabric (if template is symmetrical, it doesn't matter which side is against fabric) and trace around both edges. Cut out fabric on outer lines only, since the inner line represents the seam.

Step 5 is somewhat different for rag quilts. Mark the right side of the fabric you've chosen as a backing.

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