Notion Review – Quilting Paper

Golden Threads Quilting Paper

Otherwise titled: Quilting Paper – My Love/Hate Relationship.  I first tried using paper to quilt traced designs on when I did the borders of my pinwheel quilt.  I didn’t have any quilting paper then but my “follow the line quilt designs” book told me about this notion that you could quilt through onto the fabric and then tear away.  
Freezer Paper
I thought well, I don’t have fancy quilting paper but I’ve got a ton of freezer paper so why don’t I do that?  My results were decent.  I can’t complain.  The only thing that irritated me was how much time it took to tear the paper away from the quilting design and then pick out all the teeny little pieces that get stuck sometimes in the thread.  That was before I conquered my thread tension issue on my Singer 201 but my borders looked pretty good I must say.  I don’t have a good picture of the border unfortunately.  

The good thing about freezer paper is you could iron on the paper and it adhered to the fabric temporarily while you did the quilting.  No pins or sticky adhesive spray necessary.  That is a huge plus.  

With freezer paper you can clip several layers together and run the design through the machine (no thread) to hole punch other layers so you don’t have to trace 50 copies of the same design.  Use a large, dull sewing machine needle for this.  I know sometimes you can also do one good copy and use chalk to trace through the holes.  Freezer paper is perfect for that as it is sturdy to hold up to a pounce being drawn over the holes over and over again. 

The only other thing I’d worry about is how quickly your needle might dull going through the freezer paper.  If you are like me, and quite used to changing out needles regularly, it isn’t a big deal since you know you’re putting that needle in the “used” needle jar when the quilt is finished regardless.  

Freezer Paper Summary
Pros:  Temporarily fuses to fabric easily.  Can be hole punched and used as a chalk marking template.  Comes on a roll so you can cut out a longer piece if necessary.   Easy to find in stores.
Cons: May dull needle.  Thick paper can be difficult to pull away from stitches.  If using a delicate thread might break the thread when pulled away.  Hard to tear if stitches are longer.

Golden Threads Quilting Paper
I picked up a small roll of quilting paper when I was at a quilt shop a few months ago.  I tried it out on my mom’s Daisy quilt doing the oak leaf borders.  

The paper didn’t fuse so I pinned it to the fabric as I went along.   I tried both ways of tracing the design, by pencil and by hole punching several sections at once.

When hole punching I found that as I was moving right to left the paper would rip before I got to the new section if the hole punched section got caught under the darning foot as I was moving along.  Accidentally pushing down with your hand might even rip the paper if you were not careful. 

The paper is very thin.  It is basically a very thin vellum paper on a roll. This makes stitching through it very easy and tearing away somewhat easier than dealing with freezer paper but still, you will be picking out small pieces.  I read that someone suggested using a soft toothbrush to brush away little pieces from the thread.  I may have to try that.   Someone else talked about using spray adhesive to stick the paper to the quilt instead of pinning.  I haven’t tried that method but I might as I use up the rest of the roll.

I think the fragility of the paper really bothered me.  I like to do all of one step at a time (cutting, piecing, basting, quilting).  I don’t like having to pin or adhere small sections of a traced piece every 10 inches or so.  Being that I quilt on a domestic machine, it would be nice to have all the pieces adhere to the quilt so I can have it there when I get to that part of my border and not have to worry about it ripping as I adjust the quilt under the machine.   Not paper I’d use for a large quilt.  

I tried using a pounce when holes were punched in it and it ripped the paper as I swiped the surface.  What a bummer. 

Golden Threads Quilting Paper Summary
Pros: Easy to tear away.   Comes on a roll.  Transparent enough to trace patterns through easily.  Won’t rip out threads when tearing away from quilt. 
Cons:  Too easy to tear.  Doesn’t adhere to fabric, would have to use spray adhesive.  Hard to use a pounce on it without tearing it when holes are punched in.  Can only purchase at quilt shops or online.

Office Depot Vellum Paper
 My Mom read earlier about my issue using freezer paper and thought about vellum paper from the office store.  She sent me a small pack to try out.  What she sent me was thicker stuff with some sort of plastic coating.  A tad thicker than freezer paper and not as flexible.  I tried it with the mug rug that I did (I traced butterflies out of a book and put them around the border, they don’t show up in the photos I took).  
I used spray adhesive and that worked out great keeping it in place on the surface of the mug rug.  I even had to reposition a few pieces and that did fine.  Because of the thickness, I used really small quilting stitches so that the template would tear away easily.  It tore away a bit better than freezer paper but I would be afraid of breaking the threads because of how heavy it is.  I’d also worry about dulling a needle with the thickness of this paper.  

This would be my choice for hole punching and chalk marking a quilt though.  It would really hold up well.

Heavier Transparent Vellum Office Paper Sheets Summary
Pros:  Doesn’t rip easily when moved around.  Tears away with the same ease as freezer paper.  Can find at any office supply store.  Great for hole punching and using chalk for design marking. 
Cons:  May break thread when torn away if you aren’t careful.  Doesn’t come on a roll.  Might dull needle if used with traced templates.  Relies on adhesive bond to hold to fabric and might come loose over time if large sections placed all at once.  May get expensive with large projects.
I much prefer marking with fabric pens or chalk and quilting on that.  I think the design comes through better and you don’t have anything to tear away.  The problem is that there are some fabrics that are hard to mark with white chalk or white pouncing powder.  I’ve read that some people have fabric markers showing back up years later after the quilt has been used and washed several times.  I do worry about fabric markers on nice quilts or projects.   If I can’t use chalk, for small projects I’ll use the Golden Threads paper and for larger projects I’ll probably stick with freezer paper.  
What do you use to mark quilt designs?


  1. Excellent review. I've never thought to try using freezer paper, but that's a great idea, even with the cons. One idea that came to mind as I was reading your post is to use freezer paper as a template to sew beside, not on or through. For example I need some 1/2 circles that this might work very well with.

    I'd also be curious to try artist's tracing paper. It's an in between thickness between the vellum and the golden threads.

    Thanks for the post, it sparked ideas for me!


  2. If I'm using Golden Paper for my design, I also use adhesive dots that I bought in the scrapbook section of Target. I think Keepsake Quilts now carries this product as well.
    I've just started listening to your podcast and am enjoying it very much.
    Sarah in California

  3. You should look at Quilting Made Easy patterns. The quilting pattern is printed on a roll of paper with adhesive strips on the edges so you don’t need pins. The paper is sturdier than Golden Threads and will tear away easily. Just hold your finger on the threads and tear away with the other hand. There will be some flecks of paper left but they can be easily scratched away with your fingernail or removed with tweezers.