Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quilt Class 101 - Week 3 - Cutting

Week 3 - Cutting!!

Cutting is so so important when making a quilt. I think sometimes it can be over looked or rushed. When I first started quilting I had no idea what tools I needed, or how to use them properly. I didnt know about cutting and sewing accurately. I quickly learned that if you to make a quilt where the seam lines all line up properly and its accurate, you need to begin by cutting your pieces.... properly.

There are lots of different tools that you can get for quilting, but there are a few, that I feel are a must!
Rotary Cutter - When making a quilt, you really shouldn't use scissors to cut your fabric. Scissors can't provide the accuracy you need. Rotary Cutters are sharp and will accurately cut through a couple layers of fabric. They come in different brands and different size blades. I have only ever used a 45mm blade and I change my blade about every 2-3 quilts. My Rotary cutter is a Clover brand. I used to use an Olfa, but i find the clover one fits comfortably in my hand.
Cutting Mat - If your using a rotary cutter you need a cutting mat. My Cutting mat is a self healing mat that measures 18" x 24". I would love a larger mat, but havent got around to buying one as the one i have does the job just fine. When buying a mat, try and get one at least 18" x 24". This will allow you to cut a full strip of fabric folded over selvedge to selvedge. Check that the grid is easy to read and the markings are 1" apart with markings also at every 1/8" .
 Ruler - A clear acrylic ruler. My ruler is 6 1/2" x 24". It has grid lines 1" apart with markings at 1/8". This size ruler will give a nice clean straight cut, and will cut a full piece of fabric folded selvedge to selvedge. I find if you have anything smaller for your ruler and mat, you will find yourself frustrated and off to buy the bigger ones.
Red Pepper Quilts has a great tutorial HERE about her Rotary Cutter and Mat.
There are a few things your will find along the way that you will need. Try and cut your fabric on a high cutting bench. The kitchen bench height works great. A dining table is a little low but still works fine, your back may get a little sore from leaning over. For quilting you will also need a pair of sharp scissors and a tiny pair for cutting threads..
Like i said...When I first started my cutting skills werent great. I used to cut back to front and with the cutter in the wrong hand until someone showed me the correct way.. Im right handed and have written this for a right handed person. So if your left handed.. The same rules apply just do the opposite.
Fabric Requirements
If your following along, and are going to make this QC Quilt (Quilt Class Quilt), You will need :-
                                      OR 2 charm packs ( 84, 5" squares)        
                                      OR 12” strips of 7 Different fabrics.
  •  60" x  White fabric or a Main Solid Colour (I used Kona Cotton - Snow)
How to Cut Properly
1.  Take your first fabric piece. If your using yardage like me, Fold it in half, so your selvedges are together. I always press my fabric before i begin cutting, so its nice and flat.
2.  Lay your piece of fabric on your cutting mat. Using the guide on your Mat, line up your selvedges along the bottom line.
3. Take your ruler and lay it vertically on the mat close to the edge of your fabric on the right hand side.
 4. Using your markings on your mat, line up your ruler, so your cut line will be perfectly straight.

Place your LEFT hand firmly on the ruler to hold it in place. With your rotary cutter in your right hand, trim off the edge of the fabric so it is nice and straight. I always like to stand when im cutting fabric, your hand is more steady. If your Left handed... Steady the ruler with your right hand and cut with your left.

I find it best, holding your rotary cutter at a 45 degree angle like this...and applying a constant even pressure when cutting...
5.  Flip this neatly cut edge of your fabric over so it is now on the left hand side of the cutting mat. With your selvedges across the bottom, line the trimmed side of the fabric up with the vertical lines on the mat.
6.  Using your ruler, line up the edge of your fabric with the marking at 5". Cut a strip of fabric 5" wide selvedge to slevedge.
It is important to have the piece of fabric you are measuring and cutting UNDER the ruler. This makes it nice and flat and using your rotary cutter, you can cut an accurate 5" wide strip.
7. Set this 5" wide strip aside. Move your ruler across another 5" and cut another strip 5" wide. You will now have 2 strips cut selvedge to selvedge, 5" wide. (If you are using Fat Quarters, Cut 4 strips, 5" wide).
Repeat these steps 1-7 with your remaining 6 colours.
Cutting fabric isn't one of my favourite parts of quilting, so I try and speed it up a bit by cutting a few fabrics at a time.
 I probably wouldn't recommend this if this is your first time cutting. It would be good practise for you to cut them all individually. Also check your blade, if your blade isnt super sharp it can have trouble cutting through a few layers and can cause nics in your fabric.
Take your White (Kona Snow) fabric, remember to iron, trim the edge, to make it straight and neat.  Flip it over to left side and following the steps 1-7 above. 
From your White fabric Cut 11,   5” wide strips, selvedge to selvedge.
Once you have all your strips cut, It is time to cut them into 5" x 5" squares.
Lay your first strip horizontally across your cutting mat.
 The selvedge should be on the right side of the mat. Line up the bottom of the strip with one of the lines marked. Take your rule and cutter and trim off the selvedge.
Flip this strip over like before, so the trimmed side is on the left. Line up the bottom of the strip with line markings on the cutting mat. Take your rule and you are going to measure 5” across and cross cut your strip. You will now have two squares measuring 5” x 5”. Set aside.
Continue to cut along this strip until you have 8 squares each measuring 5” x 5” per strip. Cross Cut the other coloured strip into 5" x 5" squares. Repeat with remaining 6 colours. I like to lay a few strips on my cutting mat to save time.
Now take your white strips and Cut 8, 5” x 5” squares per strip. Repeat with remaining 10 strips. So you will now have 88, 5” x 5” squares.

In order to make this QC Quilt top. You need to have:-
  • 12,  5” x 5” squares of each of the 7 colours. So a total of 84 squares , OR two charm packs.
  • 84,  5” x 5” squares in white (Kona Snow)
If your using Fat Quarters, your strips will be different lengths but in the end you will still get 12,  5" x 5" squares from one Fat Quarter.

I hope I have explained it clearly and easy for you to understand... Please email me if you have any questions!! I found another great Tutorial for Cutting HERE  and HERE

I Need to mention... To those of you who have designed your own Quilt for our Quilt Class.... When you are working out the sizes for the pieces of fabric.. You NEED to allow for seam allowance!! SO if you have drawn a block that is 4" x 6"... When you cut out that block.. You need to add 1/2" to both the width and the length. So your Cut block will measure 4 1/2" x 6 1/2". This will allow for your 1/4" seam allowance.

There are also a few other types of cutting. Fussy Cutting? Is where you cut around a specific image on the fabric. Stack and slash? My cousin Kate has made alot of her quilts this way. Is where you layer your fabric in a few piles and make random cuts, and you then rotate the fabric pile over and sew them back together..  

This week I'm happy to introduce to you two more of my favourite Quilters

First.. Leanne,
a local Long Arm Quilter from Mount Vincent Quilts... She will be telling us all about the most asked Question by Quilters... Too wash or not to wash your fabric before Cutting?????
AND she has a great Giveaway going on for YOU over at her blog... A fat Quarter bundle full of 15 FQ's in the 'Where the wind blows' Collection by Melly and Me. Pop on over to enter...
Rachel from Stitched in Colour. She will give us more info about cutting fabric, smaller mats, cutting large cuts of fabric, cutting sashings...etc.


  1. Wow - thank you - I am ready to cut my fabrics tonight. Going to read over the links you gave us. thanks!

  2. Once again you've done another great tutorial!

  3. I need to buy some fabric to join in! Then I'll read all this again, reversing all instructions (I'm left handed).

    Thank you so much for running Quilt Class 101.

  4. Awesome post. Thank you SO much for taking the time to write all that up. You're awesome.

  5. Gosh, Rebecca, these tutes are absolutely fab! Great job and I wish they had been around when I started quilting as I've learned so much by trial and error. I'm going to join in your QAL, I have 2 charm packs just waiting to be used and I need to cut white charms for another quilt tomorrow anyway, so must do some more for this one too.

  6. You've inspired me - I thought that I didn't have time to play along, but seeing all your coloured squares made me think 'how long can it take really??', so I'm digging through my stash today...

  7. another great lesson...It is nice to see that the methods I use are the same as others, but at the same time seeing some other tricks of the trade. I am ambidextrous, so have found a double-sided rotary cutter to be handy, allo9wing me to switch from my right to my left hand, depending on the fabric I am cutting.

  8. I have to admit I love the cutting part!! Great tutorial.

  9. I am very new to quilting and have some questions. Do you iron or press? Do you iron your longer fabrics while they are folded in half? How do you straighten the edges of fabric with the fringe selvedge (like Kona cotton)? Thanks for the help as I follow along.

  10. Thank you for such wonderful instructions. The pictures are great because I am a visual learner.

  11. Another great tutorial. Each day I see something new. Looking forward to the following tutorials.

  12. Thanks Rebecca! I was shown a different way to cut but since using your method my cutting has been a lot more accurate. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Thank you for this post - it really was helpful to me!

  14. Just started cutting today - bought the same size ruler as you have, and already had the mat and rotary cutter. I recently started my first quilt, from a partwork here in the UK called the Art of Quilting, which is a sampler. Tried cutting out the patterns from their fabric and it was horrendous - should have just done squares like this, and then cut from there! Really worried about starting sewing that one, as if my cutting isn't perfect, the seam allowances will be wrong, and then the blocks won't all be the same size! I've decided to do this one first to improve my skills. I've cut my first fat quarter - wasn't as bad as I expected, although I do find it tricky to stop the fabric from moving under the ruler when I'm getting it lined up. Any tips? Thanks again :)

  15. Hi there

    I'm new to quilting and patchwork, and have just found your blog. This tutorial was very helpful, as up to now, I've been cutting my fabric from the wrong side ie. the piece I wanted to use was open to the ruler slipping and me cutting a chunk out of it. Thanks SO much for putting me right on this aspect of cutting out.


  16. I have been quilting for years, and never knew why some of my strips seem a little off. I found out why from this tutorial. I never flip my fabric, and lay the ruler ON the strip that needs to be cut! No wonder my strips are goofy! Thank you so much! My quilting is better already! Yay!

  17. Just an extra tip: you never want to cut using the lines on the cutting mat. When cutting mats are shipped, especially when its hot out. The mats can warp making your lines on your mat incorrect thus your fabric will not be cut to your intended measurements. You always use your ruler to measure and cut. :)

  18. Great tutorial. You are right, I want the longer ruler! But please learn the correct usage of "your" and "you're". I thought it was just a typo at first, but you made the mistake several times. "you're" means "you are". "your" is possesive, as in yours, not mine. So:

    "If your using Fat Quarters..." should be, "If you're (you are) using Fat Quarters..."

  19. As a beginning quilter I am thankful for tutorials such as yours. The detailed photos are soooooo helpful. Thank you!

  20. Me again. I searched your blog and found all of the tutorials...Oh Happy Day!!

  21. I love to quilt, but a little afraid to start one. The cutting part looks a little hard. Maybe i just dont know how to use the cutter to right way. when i found your site i feel i can start one. Thank you.


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