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At HowToSew.com you’ll learn how to start (and finish) basic sewing projects. Check out our free sewing patterns and tips for sewing, and get started!

What are Templates?

 

A template is a pattern made from extra-sturdy material so you can trace around it many times without wearing away the edges.

 

To make templates, use easy-to-cut template plastic, available at crafts supply stores. Its transparency lets you trace the pattern directly onto its surface.

 

To make a template of a specific pattern, lay template plastic over the pattern and use a ruler and permanent marker to trace the solid outside edges, dashed seam lines, and grain-line arrow onto the plastic. (An arrow on a pattern indicates the direction the fabric grain should run.) Mark the template with its project name, letter, and any marked matching points.

template

 

 

Cut out the template and check it against the original pattern for accuracy. If it isn’t accurate, the error (even if it’s small) will multiply as you assemble a project.

template

 

 

Using a pushpin, make a hole in the template at all marked matching points. The hole must be large enough to accommodate a pencil point.

template

 

To trace the template on fabric, use a pencil, white dressmaker’s pencil, chalk, or a special fabric marker that makes a thin, accurate line. Don’t use a ballpoint or ink pen, which might bleed. Test marking tools on a fabric scrap before using them. Place your fabric right side down on 220-grit sandpaper to prevent the fabric from stretching as you trace. Place the template facedown on the wrong side of the fabric with the template’s grain line (or one straight edge of the template) parallel to the fabric’s lengthwise or crosswise grain. Trace around the template. Mark any matching points through the holes in the template. (When sewing pieces together, line up and pin through matching points to ensure accurate assembly.)

template

 

Repeat to trace the number of pieces needed, positioning the tracings without space between them. Use scissors or a rotary cutter and ruler to precisely cut fabric pieces on the drawn lines.

template