Welcome to our series exploring the basics of quilting! Previously, we looked at ways to prep fabric for cuttting. Coming up next in our basics lineup are the pros and cons of home die-cutting machines. Or if you would like to start from the beginning and work through all the topics, you can find them all here.
Today, in the Exploring the Basics series, Tammy and I are going to talk about tips for cutting fabric. Keep reading for all our tips!
Some of us learned to cut our fabric with our rotary cutter just by trial and error; others took beginner quilting classes and learned how to cut in class. Whatever way you learned, I have some tips for cutting fabric that work for me and I hope they work for you!
Tip for cutting fabric #1: Iron your Fabric
This refers back to our post about fabric prep- iron your fabric, remove the crease in the fabric from being folded on the bolt and refold. Fabric as it gets rolled onto a bolt may or may not be on the straight of grain. Your strips will come out better if your fabric is folded on the straight of grain.
Ever get that annoying V in the fold of your strip? It is because the fabric was not on the straight of grain.
Tip for cutting fabric #2: Use the Ruler to Measure your Fabric, Not the Lines on your Mat.
And there is no need to line up with both the lines on your mat and the lines on your ruler. As we mentioned in an earlier post, ruler markings can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. The same thing holds true with the lines on your mat. And since usually the ruler markings are more accurate than the lines on the mat, I find it best to stick with the ruler for more accurate cutting.
Being accurate helps and don’t we need all the help we can get so our block ends up the right size?? You can turn the mat over to the plain side without lines if the lines are distracting.
Tip for cutting fabric #3: If you are Cutting Multiple Strips of the Same Size, Cut More than One at Once.
For example, if I am cutting multiple strips at 2 ½”, I will make my first cut at 5” and my second cut at 2 ½”. That way I have 2 strips cut before I have to lift my ruler and remove fabrics strips. Saves a little time!
First, line up the edge of the fabric with the 5″ line, then cut along the edge of the ruler. Then line up the edge of the fabric with the 2 ½” line and make a cut. Two strips cut!
If I am cutting 2” strips and using my 6 ½” ruler, I can get 3 strips cut before having to move any fabric; I cut at 6”, then at 4” and then at 2”. Nifty!
Tip for cutting fabric #4: Move the Fabric as Little as Possible.
After you make the cut to get a nice straight of grain line, try to rotate your mat instead of picking up the fabric and turning it around. That way, the straight line you just cut will stay straight!
After several cuts, check that the cutting line is still on the straight of grain. If needed, refold the fabric and make a new cut along the straight of grain. No matter how hard we try not to move that fabric around, the cutting line can get wonky after several cuts.
Tip for cutting fabric #5: Anchor your Ruler.
I anchor my ruler by laying my hand flat on the ruler and I use my pinky finger to hold the far edge of ruler in place. It is easier on my hand than some other methods and the ruler doesn’t wobble around on me!
Tip for cutting fabric #6: Always Cut AWAY From You.
Watch where your hands and fingers are on the ruler and the mat, ALWAYS close the safety on your cutter AFTER EACH CUT and try not to make yourself into a pretzel and do cutting gymnastics.
You know what I mean. When you lean over the fabric and cut at a crazy wonky angle so you don’t have to reposition the fabric????
I hope these tips for cutting fabric have helped you!
If you want more information, I will be doing a Facebook Live tomorrow, Thursday Nov 21st at 10am. I will be showing some of my best tips for cutting fabric. I will even show you the 2 ruler method of cutting when the piece you need to cut is bigger than your ruler. So be sure to pop over to my Facebook page tomorrow at 10 am!
What about you? Do you have any best practice tips for cutting fabric? Be sure to share them in the comments. I am always looking for good tips!
Don’t forget to click here to hop on over to Tammy’s blog post and get her tips on best cutting practices! I am sure she has some great ideas for you.