My First Custom Applique Template Experience

I took a quilt commission a few months ago to do a queen-size applique quilt and I’m trying a few new things while creating it. The design I came up with involves a lot of yin-yangs in various earthtone batik fabrics. The idea of tracing dozens of shapes out with a lightbox was NOT appealing to me so I looked into other options. Some quilters suggested going to an auto-glass shop to get templates cut and that was going to be my standby plan if this other option didn’t work out.

I decided to go with an online company that does custom lasercutting and etching called Ponoko. You can choose the material you want cut and the color. You do need to be somewhat tech savvy to create the cutting file they need to do the work, I created mine in Adobe Illustrator and still had to edit the file a few times to get it right. They were helpful in pointing out what I needed to fix before the file was approved for cutting. Once the file was approved I had my template in about a week!

They do have the option to use cardboard so you can have a cheap test template before you drop money on the real thing. I got brave and just had them cut it on acrylic on the first try. It came out perfect!

The other thing I like about this is it enables me to also have a template for placement of the shapes on the quilt block. Trying to center a circle inside of a square is tricky enough but now I have a square template with a round circle in the middle to facilitate even placement before fusing it down. I can see also creating templates with guidelines laser etched on them to help with placement if your project needs something like that.

Tracing out all of the shapes I needed went so much faster having the template. My original plan was to rotary cut the Wonder Under out using the templates but that was slow and not as accurate as I’d like so I ended up just using a pencil to trace the shape and cut it out after. Had all 22 yin-yangs traced out in one evening. I’m doing 15.5″ blocks with that size and then 5 blocks at a 30″ size that I’ll have to hand trace. At least the time-consuming part got spend up with the custom templates!

Lots of earthtone yinyangs waiting to be fused down #yinyangquilt #quilting #batik

A post shared by Katie V. (@katiesquiltingcorner) on

I’ve got lots of ideas on how to use this new tool for future quilts. Tracing on a lightbox is not the way I’d choose to spend a Friday night if I can just get a custom template made like this.

This post isn’t sponsored in any way, I just tried the service out myself and really liked it. Wanted to share the info. If you have questions about my experience please leave me a comment!


  1. bobbi dougherty says:

    oooo, I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  2. Lisa of Boise says:

    A great tool needs a talented operator–that would be YOU!

  3. Tracy Thompson says:

    You have such great ideas! Very cool and thank you for sharing!

  4. Kitty Pearl says:

    I want one. Katie, will you be selling​ templates soon?
    The batiks look amazing, can’t wait to see your quilt:)

    • They do offer the availability to sell templates once you create the design file and put it on their system so that is one idea I’ve had is to create a pattern and offer the optional template for tracing if someone wishes to speed up their applique process.

  5. Beth T. says:

    Maybe I am fuzzy-headed this morning (I’m having a migraine, so that’s a real possibility), but I think I”m missing something. How does the template help you trace those graceful swirls in the center of each pattern? Does the template have a thin cut-out, wide enough for a rotary cutter or a pencil to pass through?

    I love the idea of custom templates, and appreciate you giving us the name of the people who made yours. I would feel a lot more confident beginning an order now, knowing what a good experience you had.

    • The template breaks out into individual pieces – what you’re seeing here is all the pieces together. It’s not intended to use a rotary cutter with, more for tracing onto fusible web.

  6. Colleen says:

    There is a local business here Tap Plastics that will custom cut plastic for templates
    I’ve only had them cut squares for me to use for trimming and fussy cutting.
    I don’t know if curved shapes are possible from them
    Your templates look perfect

    • That was my worry too – that most places would only cut square shapes and I needed curves cut out so I went with this service instead. I may have to try a local option just to see what that process is like comparatively.