Machine Quilting Quick Tip! Plan Your Quilting with a Vinyl Sheet!


Machine Quilt Design TipsGood Morning, Quilters!

After a week away–teaching at the John C Campbell Folk School and at Quilt Market in Houston– it seems fitting that this week, I am working on the I Heart Home Quilt with Jacquelynne Steves.  (Stay tuned for another block of the month pattern and giveaway– Monday, November 6)…


To plan the quilting, I tried a method suggested by a reader of The Inbox Jaunt— doodle the motifs on a sheet of clear vinyl.

Machine Quilt Design Tips

I purchased 12 gauge clear vinyl by the yard at my local fabric store.  I cut a large square and zig zagged a fabric border around it.

(The trim helps you see the edge so you don’t write off the edge and onto your quilt!)

When I was teaching last week, a student at the Folk School (thank you, Susan!) recommended adding “Do Not Write” on one side to prevent residual ink getting on your quilt.

(Unfortunately, I failed to heed the notice–LOL!)Machine Quilt Design Tips

I experimented with both Dry Erase and Wet Erase pens and found both worked equally well.Machine Quilt Design Tips


Once I had my vinyl prepared and chose a pen, I was ready to try a few designs.

I was able to erase and start over very quickly.

I auditioned several options and soon had a plan.
Machine Quilt Design TipsMachine Quilt Design TipsThen I used chalk to free hand draw it onto my quilt.

(I like the Dritz chalk holder for marking)Design Tips, Lori KennedyIn just a few minutes I was ready to stitch away!!!
Machine Quilt Design TipsI am really thrilled with this low tech way to audition quilt motifs and hope you will give it a try as well!

What about YOU?

How do YOU audition quilt motifs?

Have YOU ever used clear vinyl sheets?

Do YOU have another method?

We’d LOVE to hear!

Doodling Away,


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

PPS…This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.  If you choose to use it-at no additional cost to YOU–I may receive a little “pin money”.  Thank you for supporting The Inbox Jaunt in this way!



57 thoughts on “Machine Quilting Quick Tip! Plan Your Quilting with a Vinyl Sheet!

  1. I love this method, and use it very regularly to audition quilting designs in my block. I like the addition of the frame, and will make frames of different sizes. I prefer wet erase because the dry erase ‘powder’ sometimes migrates.

  2. I bought a dritz chalk holder like yours a couple of years ago and liked it until I needed to advance the chalk and couldn’t figure out how to do it. Could you tell the secret, please. Thank you for your blog and lessons. It is really nice of you and I appreciate you have continued with them even after making crafty classes.

  3. First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed your interview at the Houston Quilt Show. Where they were connecting quilting to baseball. It was a neat segment to see. I have never tried the vinyl sheets, but I like the idea. Thanks once again for sharing.

  4. I’ve used the vinyl for applique. Great idea for auditioning quilting designs :-). I love love the edge on it…Will try to remember to pick up some vinyl! Thanks for the idea.

  5. I wonder if the Crayola washable markers would work on the vinyl. If it got on the quilt, it would wash off. I don’t have any vinyl to try it out.

  6. I use Glad Press&Seal to try out quilting designs on a block. It’s not erasable like the vinyl, but it’s cheap enough that I can use several pieces to audition designs. Place it on a block, draw on it with a marker, and decide on the design. Just be sure it’s a big enough piece to completely cover the block—don’t want to get stray marks on your quilt!

  7. I use plain wax paper. A dollar a box from a dollar store. Its opaque enough I know where the edges are and I can easily see the piecing underneath.

  8. Thank you for sharing this idea. I have not used chalk to mark. How do you remove the chalk lines after stitiching??

    • Chalk is easy to remove with a damp cloth or a microfiber cloth! I use white only! Test the other colors!

    • If you punch holes (works better for simpler designs), you can Pounce chalk powder thru the holes. See my other comment below.

  9. When I’m just trying to decide what I want to do, I take a picture of the quilt with my phone and print it out 8.5×11 in black&white. Then I put that in a plastic page protector and use the dry erase marker to try out different ideas over the whole quilt. Once I’ve settled on something, I use the vinyl over the actual quilt to practice at the correct size and stitching order.

  10. Sew your design directly on plastic sheet (overhead transparencies work great and are cheap) with no thread in machine. Then turn it over with the nubs your needle made up. place on fabric and use a powder pounce or brush on “chalk” product over design. It transfers and you don’t have to redraw it. Pounce irons off.

  11. I use Glad press n seal on my quilt to audition designs. I use a marker on it. Easily peels off and I can move it around in different spots on my quilt. Another plus is I can place a longer strip on a border.

  12. I love this idea of the vinyl sheet. I like the other ideas mentioned here in the comment section. I’m in a quilting quandary of sorts for the feathers on a Dresden turkey. I’m going to try this.

  13. Great hint, Lori. I use transparency film. When working on my longarm, I draw 2 of the design. One lays on the flat bed to be followed by the stylus and the other is put over the quilt block as a setting guide, place needle over starting point on the block, place stylus guide film under stylus, remove film from quilt block, quilt.

  14. Don’t forget about the semi-clear chopping mats from the dollar store! They are a little more rigid and are great for cutting templates as well. The 11″ by 14″ sheets are a perfect size. They come 2 in a package!

  15. I use a wet erase marker, because it does not rub off on my hands or the quilt and can easily be erased with a damp cloth. Great way to doodle your design and see how you like the look on the quilt.

  16. I put painters tape around the edges of the vinyl. Not as pretty as your stitched fabric, but faster and it accomplishes the same goal.

  17. I love all the ideas here! I actually use my iPad and my Notability app. I take a picture of the quilt, transfer it to Notability and proceed to draw on the app. I have a record of what I did then too.
    I love your blog, Lori. I love you!! And I love your Craftsy classes and your book. You are the one who gave me courage to try. I’m just now getting ready to quilt a queen-sized quilt to give to a grandson for his baptism. Thank you!!!

  18. So many great ideas! I use a 20” square of plexiglass with painters tape on the edges. It’s big enough to see a whole block and sashing (or some of the adjacent block). Plus, you can stand it up near your machine to use as a reference. I use dry erase pens, but use scraps of batting to erase unwanted designs. The batting cleans up the dry erase with no “crumbs”. Oh, and it really does help to write “THIS SIDE UP” in permanent marker on your painters tape, so you don’t accidentally put the wrong side down.

  19. Yes! I’ve tried this. And you absolutely need the bright edge of DO NOT WRITE. First time I did it, it was such a big piece, and where I was drawing I wasn’t going to be anywhere near the edge…. and I managed to draw on the quilt. Luckily it was a small mark of similar color and it mostly came out. Still.

  20. I purchased a piece of plastic that was about as thick as bristol board at an art supply place. I like it because it is not as flexible or wrinkly as the vinyl but can still be rolled for storage. I edged with masking tape. I did both a couple smaller pieces and a larger piece. I prefer the wet erase markers – no “powder” floating around. I wash in my laundry sink using a rag or sponge to help.

  21. I use the vinyl page protectors. A class at my LQS used them a few years back, with the dry erase markers and a small scrap of batting used to wipe away less desirable designs and a cell phone photo to preserve the winning designs.

  22. Great idea, using the heavier gauge vinyl (I happen to have some on hand). I was thinking for a fast edge – just quickly serge the edges. Also, to avoid using the wrong side, you could place masking tape on one side only. I’ve used document protectors & clear plastic file folders to make “auditions” (some ink can be removed with nail polish) & have even made stencils (& cut templates) w/ them for a pounce-able stencil with my sewing machine: draw/trace the final design w/ a Sharpie, then set machine for a long stitch & put in a cutwork needle (or the largest needle you can find) to punch the holes, like dot-to-dot drawings. I’ve even punched them with a hot wood burner tip. If you don’t cut the folder apart, you can store all related stencils, design notes inside & file away for future projects.

  23. Great tutorial, Lori. Thank you! I wonder if there is any clear vinyl in my house left over from my kids 4-H days? Another idea for always writing/drawing on the same side of the vinyl is to cut one corner curved leaving the other 3 squared. Keep the curved corner always in the bottom right as you work. I do this with my teflon pressing sheets so the glue is always only used on one side of the sheet.

  24. I have been using this technique for years. I have a piece of laminated plastic from the UPS store. One of their employees accidentally turned on the laminating machine and a whole roll was laminated with nothing in between. They were giving it away and one of their other employees brought it to quilt guild and cut off as much as we wanted. Initially I was going to use it for making templates, but quickly realized it had a much better use. I like wet erase best only because I don’t like the dry flakes getting all over. With the wet erase, I get a bunch off with a wet paper towel and then take it to a big sink and wash the rest away. I also teach and some of the students “get” it and others don’t see the point. I think they are the ones that secretly like to send their quilts out to let someone else deal with it!!

  25. Pingback: Giveaway! I Love Home Block of the Month | The Inbox Jaunt

  26. Love the idea of the Vinyl…can you give a best size dimension or most practical? I think you indicated that you made a large square…thanks…

  27. My most challenging part has been machine quilting, but has gotten better since I belong to your web sight.

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