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Picking the Right Cookie Cutter For Your Stencil

We've all been there--ordering something online that doesn't look exactly like how you pictured it in your head. This is even tougher when what you ordered was meant to be used in conjunction with something you purchased elsewhere. In the world of cookie cutters and stencils, it's so important that the stencil design fit properly onto the cookie, or your decorating project can become a disaster. Let's look at some things you can do to make sure you're getting a stencil and/or cutter you can work with!

stencil and cookie cutter measuring

Measure Twice, Order Once

Most companies that sell cookie cutters and/or stencils tend to be very up front and visible with the sizing of their products. They want their product to work for you, after all, so making sure you know what you're getting means happier customers and fewer returns for them. In product listings, look for posted dimensions like this:

stencil size details

One important thing to note is that stencils are measured at their widest points in both directions. This means that if you have an irregularly-shaped stencil, it could potentially not fit on a "normal" round cookie if the tallest point on the stencil is all the way to the right or left of the design, since circles are tapered at the sides. A 3" circle is only 3" at the diameter (right across the center); move to the left or right of that center line, and your cookie is no longer 3" across. 

In a similar way, cookie cutters that have an irregular shape are also measured at their widest points. The cookie below would be measured from the top of the page corner to the bottom of the spine of the book; even though those parts aren't aligned, these are the furthest points on the cookie, and that's where the measurement will be taken. Stencil measurements are the same. 

Rulers are a Cookier's Best Friend

The worst mistake you can make is assuming you know how big a given measurement is without actually measuring it. Put your confidence and stubbornness aside and dig a ruler out of your junk drawer. Mark the given dimensions on a piece of paper to see exactly what those dimensions look like. 

And again--if a pencil cookie cutter is listed as being 4" long, that obviously does not mean 4" in both directions, as pencils tend to be much longer than they are wide. A cutter like this could easily only be 1" (or less!) wide, which might be skinnier than what you are imagining. If the product listing does not include the dimensions for both length and width, it might be worth reaching out to the shop to see if they can give you more information before you make the purchase.

Finding a Cutter for Your PYO Stencil

PYO stencils are notoriously oddly-shaped. They will generally be taller than they are wide (or the opposite!), and it will be important to account for any areas that cause the stencil to be measured away from the center line. 

Does your haunted house stencil have a tall tower on the upper left side and a spooky graveyard in the foreground on the bottom right? A circle cutter would likely not be the best choice here, due to the shape. Square cutters can be a better option in a case like this. If your stencil measures 3" from the top of the tower to the bottom of the graveyard, then you know that your 3.5" square cutter will accommodate that length in any direction. 

I personally prefer to use plaque cookie cutters as opposed to circles and squares (my OCD is triggered by lopsided circles and not-perfectly-square squares). In that case, I need to make sure that any narrower areas of the plaque can accommodate the corresponding areas on my stencil. Don't forget-- the cutter is being measured at its widest point. If there is a scrolling edge that dips and rises, then there are areas of the cookie that are less than 3" wide. If your stencil is a blocky 3" all the way around, it likely won't fit the areas of the cutter where the scrolling edge dips down. 

Side note: If you are purchasing mini cutters, they are also being measured this same way-- from the farthest edge to the farthest edge. A 2" mini popsicle cutter may appear shockingly small when you receive it, making you think that the sizing is off, but that is because it is not 2" in every direction, and you didn't account for the popsicle being skinny.

Better Too Big Than Too Small

If you have a stencil that measures 3" at its widest point, DO NOT assume that it will fit on a 3" cookie--especially if you are newer to stenciling. This could be a recipe for disaster if you tend to not flood your cookie all the way to the edge, as many cookiers do. Your cookie immediately will be smaller than 3", and the stencil won't even have a chance at fitting.

Always average up when selecting a cookie cutter. If the stencil is 3" across, a 3.5" square cookie should do the trick. Depending on the orientation of the stencil design and where it is at its widest, a larger 4" circle may be a better fit if you're looking for a round option. There is a huge difference between a rounded 3" stencil design and a square-ish 3" stencil design in terms of how they fit on the cookie. And again, it's important to understand that irregular shapes are going to create irregular sizes, and you need to have a realistic understanding of where the measurements for that stencil are coming from. 

When in doubt, reach out to the seller or manufacturer and see if they can provide more detailed sizing information. They may even be able to suggest a cutter or cutters that would definitely fit the stencil in question and take all that guesswork out of the way for you. Always worth a shot!

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Next article Squishmallow Cookies: Using One Cutter to Make Multiple Shapes

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