Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tech Sunday - How To Use A Longarm Template

As a custom quilter, I love longarm templates.   They are thick acrylic guides that I can hold and drag my machine against to get very exact quilting lines.  I have a huge template library.  I am actually pretty picky about what I purchase and use the ones I have.   They are one of things that I always spend a lot of time looking at when I am at longarm shows like MQS.

To use a template you must have an extend base on your machine.  I actually did a Tech Sunday on Extended Bases.  Short answer is I love my Rulermate from Lakeside Quilt Company!

You want to use template that are made for use with a longarm hopping foot.  Notice that my ruler is a 1/4 inch thick.



The templates can be a little slick.  The idea is to not push down on the template but to hold it steadily against your hopping foot. If you push down really hard on your template you can create tension issues.  The larger the template the harder this is to accomplish.  A couple things I have used on mine to help with the slip are sandpaper dots and Invisigrip.  Another option is to spray the bottom of the template with something sticky like 505 spray.  I have a friend that swears by taping a strip of Rubbermaid shelf liner to her templates with double sided tape. Normally, I don't use anything on them.  I like to live dangerously!

There are a couple things that you consider when you start quilting with templates:

Please ignore that I really need a manicure... YIKES!

  • Slow Down!  
  • Keep a couple of your fingers off the sides of the template if possible.  I like to keep as many of my fingers as I can without causing my hands to cramp. 


  • You can only control the template in the space between your thumb and forefinger.  Once you get outside that zone the template is going to move.  

  • If you are using a long template carefully crab walk your hand up or down the template to keep the hopping foot in the space between your thumb and finger.   You can use the entire length of the template you just have to move your hands too.  I pause the machine move my hand and then continue  stitching.  
  • Don't buy a specialty template unless you know how to use it.  Everyone thinks their template is the best thing that happened to quilting, but that does not mean that it will work well for you.  We all quilt and think differently.  Or if you really want it and there is a book that goes with it consider purchasing the book.  
  • I use a shorter stitch length when I am using a template.  I feel like it gives me more control.  
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!  You will get better the more you work with them.  
  • Have fun!  I use templates/rulers on almost every quilt I quilt.  I actually like using them.  It does get easier the more you do it.  

1 comment:

  1. I will second the fact that the more you use them, the better you get. The first batch of templates did not work for me. Just not comfortable. Use what feels comfortable in your hands. And have fun!!!

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