Buy a piece of acrylic from your local hardware home building supply store.
I purchased this for $1.98 from Lowes and was able to get a 3.5" square and a 6.5" square. I have a little bit left over and since I'm a glutton for punishment, I am going to make a small template as well - it's going to be tiny which means I see miniatures in my future!
IF your store will accurately cut this for you - go for it! My Lowes does not charge to cut acrylic however the location I was at said that their saw seems to be a bit off when it gets to the end of the thing it is cutting so I took it home and cut it according to how Home Depot instructed me lol. If you get your place to cut it, skip to Step 5 - you are set!
Step 2: Measure and Score
Measure the size of your ruler. Mark it with a sharpie if you would like. I didn't. I just winged it since I was feeling all brave.
Score it with a utility or craft blade. Put some pressure in to it. You want to cut in to it a little bit. I did it about 4 times to be on the safe side. Make sure you use a metal straight edge to do this - I know this looks like an ordinary wooden ruler but I swear it has a nice metal edge on the side you can't see!
Flip it over and score the other side as well.
This is what you will have....
This is my acrylic piece all scored and ready for the next step!
Step 3: Loud Snap!
I folded over a place mat and inserted the acrylic piece in to folded edge.... then snap it off! It's going to be fairly loud and you have to put a bit of pressure on to it. If it doesn't snap, take it back to your metal edged ruler and score it again, a little deeper.
I didn't make these place mats by the way - I got these awesome place mats in a Craftster swap - aren't they awesome?? I love them!!
Check out your handy work!
Score! Snapped clear in half! Easy Peasy mac and cheesy!
Step 4: Sand Paper is Your Friend
Your edge is going to be a little rough. Break out some coarse sand paper and give your arms a work out. It won't take long to smooth it out.
My first one snapped perfectly. This one has a bit of a rise in the corner. I set the sandpaper over the center of my double sink then sanded that raised bit down. Now it is nice and smooth. I'd like to take the credit for that idea but hubby came up with that. It worked brilliantly. Some times he does have some mighty good ideas :)
Step 5: Mark it!
Break out your Sharpie or other favorite permanent pen and mark it with a big off centered x. On the 3.5" square shown here, I marked it 1" from the corners as shown. I haven't decided where I will mark the 6.5" one that I made from the remaining piece of acrylic.
Mark the top right corner as UP or else you will have really wonky squares!
If you don't like the way you marked it, take some Goo Gone and wipe away the permanent ink and start over.
I put Scotch tape over the top of the writing as the permanent marker was coming off on my fingers a little bit and I didn't like that one bit.
Step 6: Make Something Pretty Cool
Here is the table runner top that I finished using my 3.5" Homemade Cheap Acrylic Quilt Template.
The little squares on the sides were 2" squares sewn together in a row. Those 2" squares were pretty much what was left of the top from the original piece.
There are I'm sure lots of tutorials on how to make this Twister or Magic Pinwheel quilt. It's really pretty cool. It takes a bit longer than sewing just squares together since you sew a complete top, cut the Dickens out of it, then sew it all back together again. Some might see it as wasteful when you see the pieces left over but I swear I cut them in to 2" squares and used every last one of them for this project! I'll post pictures once I make another top. I'm planning on using both the 6.6" ruler I made as well as the 3/5" one. I have plans for this next one! I need to work out the math and then I'll get to work on it.. however the 6.5" one might be a bit too big for what I want to do which means I might be heading back to Lowes again for another piece of acrylic!
I'm also planning on possibly making a long wedge for making those cool round quilts... maybe not. I think that particular template might be best from the manufacturer... Having the measurements on it would probably be really helpful.. we'll see though.....
This was a really cheap way to make a template... having said that, it is not 100% accurate. It is a little off but just by a hair. If that bothers you, then I would suggest buying a professional template from your local craft or quilt shop. It works fine enough for me and I'm happy with my cheap home made acrylic template.