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The Art of Cutting Up

I have been in a time crunch lately - deadlines are looming, quilts have to be made, patterns written.  Many of you know just what I am talking about, maybe for different reasons.  When you want to make a quilt for a special event it helps to get yourself organized and accurate cutting is the first in a series of steps to get things done.

Much emphasis is put on cutting strips exactly straight by cutting perpendicular to the fold line.  This is still true of course, however, not as critical if shorter lengths of pieces are needed.  Below are the steps I used to cut out another version of one of my latest designs, a modern, two-color quilt which will be revealed in the coming weeks. The original quilt looks great “in person”, but didn’t photograph quite as well as I had hoped, so I decided on a do-over.

Step 1:  Fold the fabric back the way it came off the bolt.  Then fold it one more time so everything you cut is four-ply.  Scoot your fabric so the folds are parallel - as much as possible.  It helps to work with yardage that is about 1 yard.

Step 2:  Place the fabric with the double fold towards you.  Next line up your ruler perpendicular to that fold.  Just pick any horizontal line on your ruler and line it up on that fold. 

Step 3:  First cut:  Cut the width plus about 1/4 inch as indicated in the pattern.  Then take that strip and true up to the needed measurement.

Step 4:  Cut all the first strips as shown in the pattern and carefully stack them. 
My patterns all have tables.  One column indicates the strips to be cut, the adjacent right column indicates the sub or cross cuts for these strips.

Step 5:  Cross-cuts are made with the fabric still folded, which renders four-ply cuts and greatly speeds up the cutting process.  No need to unfold the strips if the cuts are smaller than 10 inches.

Step 6:  Take the resulting pieces and stack them up so you can count the little four-ply piles.  Check off your cuts with a pencil.

Step 7:  More specific to my dimensional patterns:  Some pieces (usually marked by the letter “f” after the piece to cut) will be folded in half as shown in the pattern and I like to get this done as soon as possible, so I can begin sewing - the real fun.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that I like to make piles and survey my orderly little fabric piles.  Just for right now - we are masters of our fabric universe.  

Feels good to have everything ready!


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