It is time to cut your fabric!
Before cutting, please watch www.youtube.com/watch? v=NoBKOv3Azzw Quilt Show Tutorials: Power Cutting. This is one of the best explanations and demonstration on how to cut accurate strips I have seen. Follow the advice and you will be cutting accurate strips like a pro. Accuracy in cutting and sewing a consistent scant 1/4″ seam is the secret to quilts that fit together just like designed!
The square ruler used in the You Tube video is great, however if you have purchased a rectangular ruler, you can use it in much the same way, lining up the bottom and the top fabric with markings on the ruler with the edge of the ruler along the cut edge. If those all line up, you have squared the fabric.
#1: If using a long ruler that extends three or more inches beyond the fabric, place scrap fabric the same thickness as the fabric you are cutting under the extended ruler before placing a hand weight or something 2-5 pounds heavy on the ruler to help hold it still while you cut. No more than one or two inches should extend off the fabric closest to you.
#2: Whenever the ruler extends more than one to two inches to your left off the fabric, add scrap fabric of equal thickness between the ruler and mat to keep the ruler flat when you are cutting. This gives stability to the ruler, so it will not want to rock off the edge.
#3: Do not leave your cutting mat in a hot car and avoid putting it in sunlight to avoid irreparable warping.
#4: Rotary cutter blades should be sharp. To sharpen a dull blade, cut through aluminum foil several times which will sharpen it for a few cuts. Running over pins will pit the cutting edge, so avoid pins.
Photo: The hand weight is placed on the ruler to keep it from sliding. Fabric on the left raises the ruler to the height of the fabric being cut. Both help to avoid a crooked cut.
Preparing to Cut:
Label sandwich bags 2 1/2″, 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″, 2 7/8″, 3 1/4″, 3 7/8″, 4 1/2″, 4 7/8″, 5 1/4″, 2 1/8 x 5 1/4″
My cutting instructions presume you will have a 42″ cutting width. I use fabric efficiently, waste little, and will leave fabric for re-cutting mistakes and/or to use for the back of the quilt, binding, or building your stash!
Vocabulary you need to know – WOF width of fabric (selvage to selvage). Selvage is the non-cut edges of the fabric when purchased.
Put all fabric aside except for the piece you are cutting. When you are comfortable with the rotary cutter, you will be able to combine fabric requiring the same strip width and cut more at a time. Cutting instructions for this sampler will address each fabric separately.
If you do not have a wide square ruler, place your fabric on the lined side of the mat, squaring up per the video using the top and bottom fabric folds for matching lines on your ruler to make a straight cut. Turn your mat and line up the squared edge with a line on the mat to your left and the top and bottom of the fabric with a horizontal line. If top, left cut, and the bottom of the fabric do not line up perfectly, chances are your cut is not straight and/or the fabric is not folded equally across the yardage. Correct what is wrong, turn the mat again so cutting will be done with the ruler on the fabric, cutting on the right edge. When you have a good cut, turn the mat so the squared edge is to your left. You will follow this process each time you change fabrics.
Fabric 1: 1/2 yd dark
Cut two strips – 2 1/2″ WOF and 11 1/2″ WOF. You will do so by placing your ruler 14″ (2 1/2 + 11 1/2) from the squared edge. On the lined side of the mat you count 14 vertical lines to your right from the squared edge. Place the right edge of the ruler on the 14th line above and below the fabric. Place your weight on the end of the ruler to help keep it from moving, hand spread like a spider on the ruler over the fabric with fingers away from the cutting edge. You can also stop movement of the ruler by placing your little finger on the fabric just left of the ruler edge. Make your first cut. Move your ruler 2 1/2″ to the left, cut. Note, when you are lining up your ruler on a 1/2″ mark on the mat, the 1/2″ mark on the ruler will be on the 1″ line on the mat. This is a good way to check you have correctly placed the ruler before you cut. You now have a 2 1/2″ strip and an 11 1/2″ strip.
2 1/2″ Strip: (2) 2 1/8″ sq.; (10) 2 1/2″ sq.; (2) 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles
Keep fabric doubled, make a square cut to remove selvages, turn mat so cut is to your left. How I cut fabric when width is smaller than the width of the ruler – turn ruler so the length is horizontal with 1 inch to your right. You will be placing the ruler on the strip lining up any solid line with the top or bottom of the strip.
Place the 12 1/2″ line just on the short cut end and line up the ruler on the long edge. Cut at the right end of the ruler. Now move ruler to 10″ and align just on the left end; cut at the right. You should have two 2 1/2″ squares. Continue this same method placing the ruler next at the 7 1/2″ line, 5″ and then 2 1/2″. This will give you ten 2 1/2″ squares. Place in the corresponding bag.
Again, with the ruler in the horizontal position, 4 1/2″ line on the left cut edge, cut at the right end of the ruler, giving you two of the eight 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ pieces. (6) will be cut from the larger strip.
Last cut on the 2 1/2″ strip will be 2 1/8″ squares. You will use the same method used for cutting the other pieces from the 2 1/2″ strip after one cut to reduce the strip width to 2 1/8″. First, line one long edge of the strip with the 2 1/8″ line on the ruler, fabric to be trimmed will be on the right. When confident the fabric is lined up with the 2 1/8″ markings, remove the 3/8″ excess and throw it away. Now, back to cutting squares by using the ruler mark at 4 1/4″ on the cut to the left and make a cut at the end of the ruler. There should be very little fabric to trim off. Next move ruler so the 2 1/8″ mark is on the cut edge to the left and cut for a total of four 2 1/8″ squares. If you do not have enough room for 2 cuts, 2 can be cut from extra fabric of the larger strip,
11 1/2″ strip: (2) 2 1/8″ sq.; (6) 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″; (11) 2 7/8″ sq.; (2) 4 1/2″ sq.; (2) 4 7/8″ sq.; (2) 5 1/4″ sq.
Cut off the selvages and open the strip so there is just one layer of fabric. Sub cut strip according to instruction and then each sub cut will be cut again.
From 11 1/2″ single layer strip cut widths: 5 1/4″, 4 7/8″, (3) 2 7/8″, 4 1/2″, (3) 2 1/2″.
Cut two 5 1/4″ squares from the first sub cut; two 4 7/8″ squares from next cut; four 2 7/8″ squares from each of the three sub cut 2 7/8″ strips (one square will be extra); two 4 1/2″ squares from the 4 1/2″ sub cut; 2 1/2″ strips need to be cut twice for a total of six 2 1/2 x 4 1/2″ pieces. If you need to cut a set of 2 1/8″ squares not cut from the 2 1/2” strip, do so now with the extra fabric.
Put all pieces in corresponding bags. Good habit is to do this as soon as you cut them to avoid confusion that can occur when some squares may be only 1/8-1/4″ different in size.
Fabric 2: 1/4 yd med dark
First cut after squaring and turning mat, 8 inches from squared end. Move ruler 3″ to the left and cut again. You now have a 3″ strip and a 5″.
3″ strip: (12) 2 7/8″ sq.
Sub cut into total of twelve 3″ squares (Keep fabric double and cut six which yields 12.) Trim each square to 2 7/8″.
5″ strip: (1) 4 7/8″ sq.; (2) 3 1/4″ sq.; (6) 2 1/2″ squares
Opened to one layer: sub cut one 4 7/8″ square; two 3 1/4′ squares; three 2 1/2″ strips cut into two 2 1/2″ squares each for a total of six 2 1/2″ squares.
Fabric 3: 7/8 yd light
First cut after squaring and turning mat will be at 14 1/4″ from squared edge. Move ruler to 9″ and make next cut. You have a 5 1/4″ strip and a 9″ strip.
5 1/4″ strip: (4) 2 1/8” x 5 1/4″ rectangles; (10) 2 1/2″ strips; (1) 5 1/4″ sq.
Open to one layer: four 2 1/8″ cuts; ten 2 1/2″ strips cut into twenty 2 1/2″ squares; one 5 1/4″ square
9″ strip: (14) 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles; (21) 2 7/8″ sq.; (4) 2 1/8″x5 1/4″ rectangles
Open to one layer: seven 2 1/2″ strips sub cut to two 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ segments for a total of 14; seven 2 7/8″ strips sub cut into twenty-one 2 7/8″ squares; one 5 1/4″ strip sub cut to four 2 1/8″ x 5 1/4″ segments.
Fabric 4: 1/2 yd med light
First cut after squaring and turning mat will be at 11″. Move ruler to 6″ and make second cut to give you a 5″ strip and a 6″ strip.
5″ strip: (8) 2 1/2″ sq.; (6) 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles; (2) 4 7/8″ sq.; (1) 3 7/8″ sq.
Open to one layer: four 2 1/2″ strips sub cut to eight 2 1/2″ squares; six 2 1/2″ strips cut at 4 1/2″; two 4 7/8″ strips sub cut to 4 7/8″ square; one 3 7/8″ strip sub cut to 3 7/8″ square.
6″ strip: (3) 5 1/4″ sq.; (4) 2 7/8″ sq.
Open to one layer; three 5 1/4″ strips sub cut to 5 1/4″ squares; two 2 7/8″ strips sub cut into total of four 2 7/8″ squares.
Any questions at all about these cutting directions should be asked before you cut. Questions left in the comments will be answered within 24 hours. Be sure all pieces are placed in the bags according to size!