Quilting Process: Cutting

I will be honest, cutting for me is the worst part of the quilting process.  I hate the fact that I have to take a wonderful piece of fabric and cut it up into itty bitty little pieces (in some cases).  It is one of the reasons why I enjoy pre cuts so much, they are cut into littler pieces and I don’t feel so rotten cutting them up into more little pieces.

My friend Anne first taught me how to cut my fabric properly – and because in my mind she is one of the best, what she says GOES!  And because she is one of the most careful cutters I know – she is a perfectionist when it comes to her quilts.

First she told me I needed the following tools to cut quilts:

1. Rotary Cutter

This is the standard 45mm Olfa Rotary Cutter.  This cutter got me through my first year of quilting.  It is a good cutter I find, easy to change blade and reasonably priced.  Though I did find I went through blades quite a bit.

This is the GINGHER rotary cutter which I got for my birthday.  It is heavier then the OLFA, but if cuts beautifully, and the blades last 6 months to 1 year.  I love it.

2.  A Cutting Mat.

This is a picture of the standard OLFA cutting mat, it is about $60-70.  It has inches along the sides for measurement.  This is not the one I have.  I have a mat (I don’t know what company it is by), but I got an amazing deal on it and the only difference is it goes by centimeters.  Why did I go with that one – because I was told, by my well respected friend, that I WAS NEVER TO MEASURE MY FABRIC BY THE MEASUREMENTS ON MY MAT.  Why?  Because the mat can change its shape if it is too hot or cold so the measurements can change.

3.  A ruler.  Not just any ruler though.  The Ruler I was introduced to was the 6″x24″ ruler.  I was told if I only had one ruler – this was it

I do like rulers though – so I have a couple more then this.

These were the basic things I needed, so we moved onto the steps.

  1. Give your fabric a quick press.  You want to get rid of any of those nasty creases or fabric that has been folded that will cause an uneven cut.
  2. Fold the fabric so the selvages (the edge of the fabric that usually has the information about the fabric on it) are together and you have a nice fold at the bottom.  That is going to be the edge we assume is our straight edge for now
  3. Square up the fabric.  Right now we don’t really have an edge that is straight – so we need to create one.  Using the folded edge of our fabric as our “straight edge” we line up our ruler with it and we trim away some of the side to create a true straight edge.
  4. After that you cut the fabric as it directs in the cutting directions.

I know I should have pictures for this, to show the steps, but I haven’t been able to get anyone to help take the photos.  I will try and post them along with this.

Cutting it into little bits, as I mentioned, isn’t my favorite.  Even with great tools.  I find it, well dull.  I find that if I don’t do it during the perfect time of day I can’t see my fabric well – due to the lights in my home.  I also find that my backs hurts after a bit of this.  Probably due to the fact the the table is not the correct height to cut on – but for big jobs it is the best I’ve got.

Now, with that all said….cutting is one of the most important steps in quilting.  Because if you don’t cut your fabric properly then it doesn’t got together all that nicely either.





Filed under Quilting

3 responses to “Quilting Process: Cutting

  1. Thank you for a very clear concise post. One other thing I have learned is to do a visual inspection of that fold used as the ‘straight edge’ to make certain it is straight (follow the thread that forms that fold/edge). When cutting fabric that is folded ALWAYS cut from the fold to the other/outer/cut edges and you won’t have cut a piece that has a “dip” at that fold area! Count on your posts for so many of the quilting tips I use! Hugs, Doreen

    • Jen

      What terrific tips Doreen. Thanks for those. Especially checking of the “straight edge” to make sure it is correct. I’ve had some crazy folds.

      • Yup, some of those folds really fight back!-( A good steam iron comes in handy when the fold is particularly stubborn (to press it flat then refold). Thanks,again, for all your wonderful tips! Hugs, D

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