I start by creating the shape I need. This one is for a feather spine that I want to be the same in every block. I mark it onto the cardboard.
I cut it out using a blade knife. I will sometimes cover the edges to keep it crisp and other times just use it like it is.
Here I've placed it in the block where I want the feather spine.
I used the chalk to mark around the template.
This is what the feather looked like after it was quilted.
My homemade templates can be used next to the hopping foot and quilted around too. The quilting machines are so sensitive to anything in their path that you need not put a lot of side pressure when quilting around a cardboard shape. The templates will eventually wear out but usually last a good long time for me. Then I just make a new one. Putting tape around the edges helps keep the edges crisp for a longer length of time.