Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How To Make A Quilt {Part 3} Cutting Your Fabric

Welcome back to How To Make A Quilt!

You can find parts 1 and 2 below:

Part 1 --Supplies
Part 2 --Fabric Requirements and Design

Are you ready to cut some fabric?  Cutting your fabric may seem a bit intimidating, but once you get comfortable with it--it will be snap!

I am going to start off with some basic tips when it comes to cutting your fabric:

Cutting Tips:
  • Place your cutting mat on a hard flat surface.  You don't want an uneven or too soft of a surface when cutting your fabric.
  • Press your fabric.  If you start out with a wrinkled piece of fabric you will have a hard time with your fabric shifting on your mat and you won't get accurate cuts.  Also, don't try and iron your fabric on your mat! I did that once--when I was starting out and learned real quick that's a big no-no! 
  • Always keep the safety on--when not using your rotary cutter.  
  • Make sure your rotary cutter blade is not dull.  I change my blade on a regular basis.  Having a sharp blade, helps a lot when cutting several layers of fabric.
  • Don't try and cut too many layers at once.  If you are just beginning, I wouldn't recommend layering more than 2 layers at a time.  Once you get really comfortable cutting, you can definitely layer more than 3 layers--if you are comfortable.  
  • Always cut away from you.  This seems like a no-brainer--but I feel like I have to mention this one for safety's sake! 
  • Before you cut, be sure to check where your fingers are.  You do not want them hanging over the side of your ruler where you are cutting.  
  • If you are having trouble with your ruler slipping you can try these no-slip grip adhesives for your rulers.  Some people really like using these. 
Since we are primarily working with fat quarters on this quilt, I am going to go through some steps on cutting fabric.

Now let's talk about "squaring up" your fat quarter.  Squaring up simply means trimming down your fabric so the edges are straight--so that you get accurate pieces when cutting.

First, you are going to iron your fat quarter so it lies flat.  If it is full of wrinkles, then you are going to have a hard time cutting straight and accurate pieces.  Some people even prefer to starch their fabric so it is a little bit stiff when they trim it.

Once you have your fat quarter ironed, place it on your cutting mat and line up the selvage edge with one of the lines on your cutting mat.

You can see that the fabric is lined up on the bottom, but it is not straight on either side.  This is why we need to square it up.  So line up your ruler with the lines on your mat and then carefully place your hand on your ruler careful to keep your fingers out of the path of your blade and trim the edge. 

I like to keep my pinky finger OFF the ruler on the opposite side I am cutting--this helps me keep the ruler from sliding when cutting.   You can also see I have my fingers well away from the edge of the fabric--so that it is not in the way of the blade when I cut the fabric. 

Once you have it trimmed you now have a straight edge on the bottom and on one of the sides.  You are now ready to start cutting your pieces.

Before you start cutting, be sure to look at the cutting requirements and how many pieces you will need of each fabric.  You will have quite a bit left over from your fat quarters if you are making the baby sized quilt.  If you are making the lap size quilt--you will be using almost all of the bundle.

How to cut squares:

You will take your fat quarter and square it up before cutting your squares.  So follow the previous steps and then once your fat quarter is nice and straight--you can cut your squares out. 

You can get up to 12 squares per fat quarter.  However, I wanted to make my quilt nice and scrappy, so I only ended up cutting from each aqua fat quarter 4 squares.  You can do this however you like, but don't take all of your aqua fat quarters and cut them into 5" squares, only cut the amount you need--that way you don't cut too many. 

Now let's cut our red strips:

Before I tell you how to cut your background fabric, let's talk about cutting fabric from yardage.   When you buy fabric by the yard it is usually 42" wide. (which is what I am referring to when I say "width of fabric" I am meaning approximately 42" wide)  Obviously it would be hard to cut something that wide without folding it in half.  Which is how it comes off the bolt--folded in half.  

So when you get your yardage it will be folded in half so that when you cut it you will be cutting through two layers of fabric.  You will follow the same instructions when squaring up your fabric--but instead of lining up the selvage edge you will line up the folded edge of your fabric.  

Once your edge is straight, you can begin cutting your strips.  You will cut them in the same way you cut your other strips, but the width will be different. 

How to cut width of fabric strips:

Now, let's cut our 2.5" x 18" Strips:

Now that you can see how to cut your fabric, here are the cutting requirements for both size quilts:

Baby Size Quilt Cutting Requirements Approximately 36" x  36"


From the red prints cut:
  • 15 -- 2.5" x 18" strips
From the aqua prints cut:
  • 18 -- 5" x  5" squares
From the background fabric cut:
  • 12 -- 2.5" x  18" strips
  • 12 -- 1.5" x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips

Lap Size Quilt Cutting Requirements--Approximately 48" x  60" 


From the red prints cut:
  • 30 -- 2.5" x 22" strips
From the aqua prints cut: 
  • 40 -- 5" x  5" squares
From the background fabric cut:
  • 24 -- 2.5" x 18"strips
  • 24 -- 1.5" x Width of Fabric strips

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send an email: lindsey@fortworthfabricstudio.com

If you have any tips or tricks on cutting fabric--I would love to hear them! :)

Talk to you soon,

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Lovelli Quilts said...

Great Tutorial!!

Lorna McMahon said...

Thorough details and great pictures! Well done and easy to follow!

Jasmine said...

This is nice and detailed. I like all your safety suggestions. I actually straighten the left edge of the fabric, then use the lines on the ruler to cut my strips left to right. I only use the lines on my mat when cutting out something really big. :o)

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

What a wonderful tutorial! Thanks for sharing.
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