Machine Quilting Using Freezer Paper and Stencils

I teach Beginning Machine Quilting for the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo and am always looking for new ways to keep the classes interesting. I have a LOT of small and medium sized samples that I bring with me and my students love to look at these for inspiration.

My next show is Fredericksburg, Virginia. If you're looking for a little inspiration for machine quilting, consider joining me on Saturday October 3 in the Handi Quilter studio.

I love to use simple shapes cut out from freezer paper. When they are ironed to a fabric, there's no need to mark the fabric in the traditional way (ie, with a pen, chalk, etc). The outside of the shape provides the sewing guide. What do I mean?

First, tracing a stencil from one of my favorite quilting motif books, "501 Quilting Motifs."
This is a compilation of stencils from Quiltmaker. An awesome book! I bring it to every class and highly recommend it.

Tracing a pattern from 501 Quilting Motifs (Martingale)
This was too hard for me. Sure, I could now place it on my basted quilt and stitch through the paper. But, then you have to then pick out the paper. Not for me. Been there; done that!

Now, for the freezer paper. Used one of my own patterns which I call Stacked Hearts. First, here is the mini quilt I made using this applique pattern:

Stacked Hearts, available on my Craftsy pattern site (only $1.99)
Stacked Hearts first appeared in one of my annual block a day calendars. Then I made this little quilt and the pattern has 7 pages full of process photos to show how to set this rectangle on point. And there's a full size applique pattern, along with a chart that shows how to set ANY block (any size) on point. Such a deal.

Here is the cutting out of the Stacked Hearts template using freezer paper:

Trace the template onto freezer paper and cut out.
Now, how did I quilt this? On my Handi Quilter Sweet 16 ( sit down), of course!

Quilting using the HQ Sweet 16
OK. Did I do something else with that freezer paper applique template? Sure!

Stacked Hearts freezer paper applique template ironed to a large rectangle of fabric
And after I quilted it?

Stacked Hearts mini whole cloth quilt
I first sewed around the outside of the freezer paper shape. Then I removed the freezer paper. Now it was time to stitch inside the Stacked Hearts. I doodled and swirled and looped. Then it was time to fill in outside of the hearts. I like to think of those wavy swirls as Goddess Hair! I was done. Put on the binding and I was really done.

I have other samples using freezer paper to guide me for machine quilting. I'll be back with some more. But, for now, I wanted you to see one of my latest tricks. Even a simple stencil will work for this.

Two quick pics of some samples I've dragged on the road with me the past 7 years. My students get these applique patterns:

Peace Dove
And my very favorite, Fat Cat!

Fat Cat
Hope you enjoyed seeing how easy and simple the use of freezer paper can be to aid you with machine quilting. My motto: Start small; stay simple; repeat!


  1. Thanks for your post Debby! I'd really love to get into FMQ, currently I just do straight line quilting. I'm only a few hours away from Fredericksburg, maybe I'll see you there!

  2. Oh, I am going to have to try the freezer paper! I have never thought of using it as a stencil. I tried the sticky paper (press on, I think?) and it was so hard to get off the quilt and out of the stitches.

    Sandy A

  3. Love your fat cat! Thank you for sharing freezer paper quilting method never thought of that!


  4. Great idea, Debby. I think I am going to try this. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  5. Love the idea! I'm just venturing into fmq after doing only straight line and sid for several years. This is certainly going to be added to my "try it" list.

  6. I do like that idea, Debby, thanks! I love the way you fill in the centers, too. Another step in making FMQ more doable.

  7. Debby, thank you so much for this wonderful tip of using freezer paper. I am new at this FMQ and I believe this will really help me.

  8. What an awesome idea. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tip!

  9. I've taken 3 classes on machine quilting and still am only comfortable with straight line or SID quilting. Never thought of freezer paper patterns and never heard it in a class. Will try it on my next quilt for Project Linus! Thank you Debby.

  10. I have had 4 great classes with HandiQuilter and never a mention of freezer paper. Great idea Debby! I am going to try it on a table quilt for my sister!!!

  11. That freezer paper is amazing stuff isn't it? Great idea using it for a quilting guide.

  12. I really like freezer paper for all type of things. Heck, I even wrap food to stick in the freezer in it. What a thought!

  13. Thanks, Debby, for this valuable information. I really can use those tips!! You share so much.

  14. Have you used it by drawing your design on the freezer paper and stitched thru it? I will be doing a tree trunk with bark and thinking of drawing it on the freezer paper then stitching. My quilt is approx. 57" x 60" and the majority will be the trunk. Thanks!


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