Don’t you just love going to the fabric store and picking out the fabric you need for your next quilting projects. After you buy the fabric the next step is to cut it. Cutting your fabric for quilting is important especially cutting your fabric accurately. Even if you use pre-cut fabric bundles (I love moda fabrics) like, jelly rolls (my personal favorite), charm pack (also called charm squares), fat quarter bundles, fat eighths, honey buns, or layer cakes, you will probably find yourself having to cut your quilt pieces. If you’re working on your first quilt I put a couple of tips down below to help you.
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What do I need for cutting quilting fabric?
Here’s a few quilting tools, so you can cut your fabric accurately.
- a self-healing mat
- 45 mm rotary cutter (this is the size I have and like, but you can use a different size if you want to)
- extra rotary cutting blades
- acrylic ruler
- this is optional, but I like to use a small two pound weight to help hold down the other end of the ruler while I cut the fabric.
And it helps to have a sharp blade on your rotary cutter, so I like to have a few extra blades.
You can use fabric scissors, but it’s a good idea to invest in a rotary cutter and mat, because using them is easier and they help cut the fabric straight and cleanly.
How do I know what size I need to cut my quilt top fabric to?
If you use quilt patterns the patterns will tell you what size squares, rectangles, or triangles you need to cut, they will also tell how many of each you need. You can also buy quilt template sets that help you cut the right shapes for your quilts. I have one for a double wedding ring quilt. If you’re going to do a quilt without a pattern, you need to make sure you add a 1/4″ seam allowance. For example if you want to do a nine-patch quilt and you want each of your fabric squares to be 4″ you will cut your squares to be 4 1/2″ so you will have a 1/4″ seam allowance on each side of the square.
Cutting the fabric in strips
We’re going to start the cutting process by cutting the material in strips. Now I’m not going to be doing any fussy cutting, just plain ol’ basic straight cutting.
Step 1: The first thing you do is make sure the table you are using is cleaned off so you have room for your mat.
Step 2: Make sure that the fabric selvage edges are folded together.
Step 3: Place the fabric on the cutting mat making sure that the selvage edges are even on the horizontal line ( I turn my mat sideways when I cut the fabric in strips).
Step 4: Place the ruler on the fabric lining it’s side up on one of the lines on the rotary mat, place your left hand on the ruler and cut the material with your right hand by sliding the rotary blade up against the edge of the ruler. That’s how you cut the fabric the first time to make sure that the fabric raw edge is straight.
I also like to put a small weight on the other end of the quilting ruler so it will help me get a perfectly straight line and not uneven cuts. Hint: if you’re left handed you can start cutting on the other edge of the fabric and place you non-dominant hand on the ruler and cut the fabric with your left hand.
Step 5: After you’ve straightened the edge of your fabric, now you can cut your long strips of fabric. Cut the fabric in however wide strips you need. If you want 4.5 inch wide strips, simply place the ruler’s 4.5 inch line on the fabric edge and cut.
Cutting the fabric in squares
After you’ve cut the your fabric strips, now you can cut the strips in perfect squares (or rectangles). You can also use a square ruler, if you didn’t want to continue using the long ruler.
Step 1: Place the strip of fabric on the mat (I like to do two strips at the same time, but you can do one or two strips) and cut off the selvage edges evenly.
Step 2: Place the ruler’s 4.5 inch line on the fabric (If you’re strips are 4.5 inches wide and you want your fabric in squares).
Step 3: Cut the fabric quilt squares, and continue cutting to the folded edge of fabric.
Cutting the fabric in triangles
After you’ve cut the fabric in squares, sometimes you need to cut you fabric in triangles, and this should be the final step of cutting your quilting fabric. You can also get triangle rulers (I know there are a lot of rulers out there), but I just use the same long ruler for practically everything.
Step 1: Place the fabric square on the mat, so that one of the corners is pointed toward you.
Step 2: Place the side of the ruler on the fabric, so that the ruler is on the two points of the fabric square.
Step 3: Cut the fabric.
See it doesn’t really take much time to cut the fabric.
Be sure to check out my other Quilting and Sewing blog posts
- How to Piece a Quilt
- How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle
- How to Thread a Sewing Machine
- How to Wind a Bobbin
- The Different Parts of a Sewing Machine