Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cutting tips

I love efficiency at work and at home. When I start a new quilt from a pattern I cut everything, and then chain piece as much as possible to get everything done. It is more monotonous than making one block at a time but I find peace in the monotony. I mean, I still enjoy moving small amounts of liquid from one tube to another 100 times a day at work.

I like to use my time wisely while still being accurate in cutting and piecing. I though I would share with you my technique for how I cut lots of little strips of fabric very quickly using a rotary cutter and cutting mat. Since I am self taught and relatively new to this game, this may be old hat. Still, I hope some of you will find it useful and maybe in the comments you will give some tips on how to do this even better.

For my next quilt I needed to cut the following strips:
126      4 x 1.5"
126      6 x 1.5"
63       5 x 1.5"
54      10 x 1.5"

I started by pressing my fabric in half (selvedge to selvedge) then in half again matching up the first fold with the edges. My calculator handy, I determined that I can get 30 1.5" pieces per width of fabric (WOF). I calculated that I would need 2 x WOF for the 10", 2 x WOF for 5" (plus a little extra - more on that later), and 5 x WOF for the 4" and 6". Sorry there is no picture to accompany this step.

I unfolded each strip once so that the fabric is folded in half  and lined it up on my large cutting mat making sure to line up the top of the fabric with the ruler guidelines on the mat and keeping the selvedge on my right. Then I centered another piece of folded fabric on top so that there are four layers of fabric on the mat. The images here are of my 10" X WOF pieces.

Then I cut off the selvedge squaring up the right hand size with the top and bottom. Then I measured 1.5" to the left and cut. Continue this way down the entire length of the piece.

By working from right to left you won't have to move the cut fabrics aside as you continue down the strip. I am right handed so lefties may want to completely reverse the process.

I separated the pieces a little bit so you can see where the cut lines are. 15 cuts x 4 layers of fabric is 60 pieces!  When I cut the smaller pieces I lined up the fabric on the cutting board as before but in two rows separated by an inch (again sorry no pics!) so that I could cut 8 pieces at a time!

For those of you doing the math at home you may realize that 2 X WOF won't be enough for 63 pieces of the 5 x 1.5" size, but you will have extra fabric leftover from both the 10" and the 6" so you can cut your extra pieces from those.

A little bit of planning, math and organization and you will have a tidy pile of accurately cut fabric. I hope you found this helpful. I would love to hear how you organize your cutting in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I HATE cutting background fabric. I can't wait until I have a work surface and a cutting mat big enough to implement your planning/math tips. I can totally tell you are a scientist; if your bio hadn't given you away this post would've! :)