As I’ve previously said, I’ve started piecing some 1″ hexagons together, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to assess all the glue sticks and template materials I was able to buy. The post turned out to be rather long so I’ve split it in two — today’s post will be all about template materials, and tomorrow I’ll post about glues and clips. All items were bought in Australia except where noted, and all prices are in Australian dollars.
a. Card stock: Sew Easy, Sue Daley, Paper Pieces
b. Mylar: June Tailor, OzQuilts, Eppiflex
c. Fiskars 1″ hexagon punch: bakery cartons, medical forms, grocery boxes
Note that I removed the centre template from each flower before I stitched the petals together so that the template wasn’t creased. That also allowed me to assess how each template stood up to multiple uses while leaving the petal templates in place.
A. Card stock templates
Cost: $9.50 for pack of 100 ($0.10 each)
Light card stock, smooth surface. Probably die-cut. Flexible, but sturdy enough to withstand the pressure of fabric being folded over the edge. Most glues stuck reasonably well but the papers were fairly easy to remove, especially if removal was a couple of days after basting rather than the same day. I have used templates up to 6 times with no problems, although there was significant glue residue towards the end (not enough to hinder removal, though). If you reverse the card you can easily get 10-12 uses from each.
Cost: $6.90 for pack of 100 ($0.07 each)
Light card stock, smooth surface. These look and feel identical to the Sew Easy cards and are probably from the same source.
Cost: USD $4.50 for pack of 100, plus postage
The cost is around AUD 6.90 ($0.07 each), so comparable to the Sue Daley templates if you ignore postage which, to be truthful, isn’t a lot. Delivery was around 7-10 days — I can’t be more precise as I only check my post office box once a week. The templates have tiny tags in the middle of each side as a remnant of die-cutting. The paper is thinner and more flexible than the Sew Easy/Sue Daley, and it has a rougher surface — it feels more like cartridge or sketchbook paper than card. Most glues adhered better to this surface than the glossy papers but I found that the templates still came away fairly cleanly once sewn, except where I had inadvertently stitched though the edge. I think that the thinner substrate will lead to a shorter number of uses but 5 or more is proven.
B. Mylar templates (aka BoPET: biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate)
June Tailor Templates
Cost: $29.95 for pack of 25 ($1.20 each)
Country of Manufacture: USA
Made from thick (almost a full millimetre) glossy white Mylar, these templates have a slight curve, presumably from the roll of Mylar they were cut from. Some of the edges retain a few shreds from the cutting, but they aren’t sharp. There is a small hole in the centre to permit them to be strung together. They are slightly flexible and could be folded if you put some effort into it but I chose not to do that.
Since one of the features of Mylar is its non-stick nature, it’s not surprising that none of the glue sticks adhered well. Most of the adhesion was at the corners where glue attached the fabric folds, and some of the templates were falling out before I had started stitching the petals together, so they really need to be basted with thread (which, to be fair, is what the packet directions advise). The thickness and weight of the template made it almost impossible to align the hexagons precisely, even using magnets. Having said that, however, I acknowledge that they are infinitely re-usable since they retain very little of the glue residue and are easily wiped clean if any residue is found.
They are the most expensive templates of all, by a factor of four to twelve.
Cost: $15.00 for pack of 50 ($0.30 each)
Country of Manufacture: Australia
These templates are also cut from white Mylar (by laser, judging from the slight discoloration around the edges) but are much thinner. Although they feel almost as smooth, they took the glue a lot better than the June Tailor templates and I didn’t have the same problem with fabric coming loose. Removal was easy. Alignment was good. Repeated use showed no deterioration up to ten uses and I think they’d be good for dozens if not hundreds.
Cost: $15.00 for pack of 50 ($0.30 each) or $35.00 for a pack of 175 ($0.20 each)
Country of Manufacture: Australia
These are made from transparent Mylar with additional cut lines to allow the pieces to be bent or folded — very useful when stitching rows or flowers together. I believe they are die-cut but I could be wrong. They are very thin, very light and very flexible. The surface is the least smooth of the three brands and I thought it would help the glue to stick, but strangely it didn’t. Because they are transparent I sometimes found it difficult to see where I had applied glue, and I found that I had to use all the glue sticks at an angle to prevent glue getting into the slits. I have to admit that I didn’t find them quite as nice to handle as I had expected, but the flexibility is the best of all the templates and they would definitely be the template of choice for larger flowers and more complex designs where you have to bend adjacent pieces.
Interestingly, the Eppiflex website says that although the templates are PET and therefore technically recyclable they won’t be recognised by recycling centres and should be returned to Eppiflex (or designated stores in the UK and US) for proper disposal to avoid them being sent to landfill.
C. Fiskars 1″ hexagon punch
Country of Manufacture: China
Although expensive, this punch will pay for itself after 390 templates (assuming 10 cents per template). It is advertised as easy to use and I found that to be true. I have hand issues, as I’ve previously written about, but I didn’t get any pain from this — but I was careful not to do more than 50 at once. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with inflammatory arthritis or connective tissue disorders, but making enough for each day’s sewing shouldn’t cause pain for the average user. The worst thing about the punch was the fact that the templates bounce up and can land a fair distance away.
I used the punch on several different substrates: light waxed card from bakery cartons; light card from a stack of old carbonless copy pads I accumulated from my time in Defence; and light card from supermarket boxes such as crispbreads (Ryvita / Vita-Wheat). I also tried to cut templates from plastic milk bottles and slightly heavier card from the back of writing pads, but they were too thick. I didn’t try waxed milk cartons — it’s rare to find milk in cartons (Tetrapaks) these days and while cream is still sold this way it’s almost impossible to get all the fat out of the cartons so I didn’t try the punch on them. I didn’t try cereal boxes either as I don’t eat cereals, but I suspect that the cardboard is roughly the same thickness as crispbread boxes and not the thick cardboard used in America (termed chipboard there, I believe).
The glossy surfaces of the bakery cartons and grocery boxes presented no problems at all although I found that the bakery carton tempates worked better with the waxed side facing the fabric and the other side (which had roughly the same glossiness as the Sew Easy and Sue Daley cards) getting the glue. The card seemed very flimsy as a 20 cm / 8″ box, but once cut into small pieces (about 50 pieces per box) it was much thicker than the commercial card templates. It was still very light, though, and didn’t present any problems with alignment or the magnets I used to hold pieces in place.
The card from the Defence forms was non-glossy but a similar weight and thickness. I had no difficulty with glue sticking or template removal. I was able to get 24 hexagons from each A4 card.
Commercial card templates are very cheap and can probably be used 10 times or more if you reverse them (that is, glued five or six times each side). The Paper Pieces templates have a shorter life due to the thinner, more porous stock but at under 5 cents (US) per paper they are also the cheapest. For all cards I found that it was harder to remove them after several uses due to the build-up of glue residue.
Mylar templates can be used many times if cleaned occasionally. Of the three brands I liked working with OzQuilts the best, but Eppiflex templates are fine and have the advantage that you don’t need to remove the centre to stitch the petals. I would not recommend June Tailor templates because of their price, their weight and their thickness, even if you are happy to baste with thread instead of glue.
The Fiskars 1″ hexagon punch is worth the price if you need several hundred templates and have access to light card stock that would otherwise go to waste. It is not strong enough to make templates from plastic or thick card, and probably not from Mylar sheets.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about glues and holding devices.