Aug 29, 2012 - Quilting Basics    No Comments

Quilting Basics – Cutting Your Fabric

You’re working on your first quilt.  (HURRAY!)  You have your basic tools: sewing machine, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter.  You have a pattern.  And you have your fabric.  Time to dive in!

Here are a few tips for cutting successfully.

  • Make sure your work surface is steady.   If you don’t have a dedicated workspace, your kitchen or dining room table are better options than a card table.
  • If your rotary cutter doesn’t close automatically, always retract the blade and put it in the closed postition before setting it down.  Make it a habit.  The blade is extremely sharp.
  • Read your pattern cutting instructions all the way through before beginning.
  • Cut the larger pieces first, then move on to the next smallest and so forth, cutting the smallest pieces last.
  • Some designers includes tips on efficient cutting – use them!

Let’s begin…

First you will need to square up the end of your fabric to prepare it for the first cut.  Fold your fabric in half with the selvedges together and smooth it out.  Have the folded edge nearest you.

Lay your fabric on your cutting mat with fold nearest you, and the selvedges farthest away.   Place your ruler close to the cut edge with one of the lines even with the folded edge.  Cut to trim the edge of the fabric straight.

Turn your fabric over so the fold is still nearest you but so that the trimmed edge is on the left side instead of the right.  Don’t worry about the lines on the mat – you won’t be using them.

In this picture, a 2 1/2″ strip is to be cut, so 2 1/2″ of fabric is placed under the ruler with one ruler line (the 2 1/2″ line) along the cut edge, and another ruler line (one of the ones that goes across, not up and down) is right along the fold line.


When you need to subcut your strips into smaller pieces, repeat the process of getting one edge straight as you cut off the selvedges.   In the picture below you can see that the 10″ line on the ruler is lined up along the edge of the fabric strip.

Then turn your strip and cut the correct size.  Below an 8 1/2″ piece is being cut.  Again, notice a straight line on the ruler lined up along a cut edge.


Continue until you have all your pieces cut.  It’s helpful to pin a piece of paper to some of your cut pieces so you can easily identify them as you are putting your quilt together.

Next step, sewing.  WooHoo!


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