Throughout my journey of learning to love and design quilts, I’ve learned three key things:
1)The more accurately I cut my fabric, 2) the more easily my quilt goes together, and 3) the better it turns out.
But cutting hasn’t always been the easiest part of my quilting process. I’ve had to do a lot of research (i.e. quilt making!) and through trial and error, I’ve learned some things that work for me and help me achieve the quality of work that I want in my finished projects.
Here are some of my tried and true tips:
Pressing. I typically press and depending on the kind of fabric and the amount of stress it’s been under, use spray or starch before cutting. I personally prefer not to prewash, but even with the manufacturing sizing left in the fabric, a little extra stability helps me keep my yardage under control.
Trimming. I am not afraid to trim the raw edge of my yardage. Just a tiny trim helps to give my pieces accurate dimensions and smooth edges for sewing. A little irregularity multiplies over the course of a project, so this helps me achieve better finishes. After handling the fabric through a few cuts, I find it helpful to trim again in order to give myself a fresh, straight edge once more.
Fresh Blades. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself being amazed at the quality of cut once I’ve put a new blade on my rotary cutter. Today, I try to be more aware of how long a blade’s been in use and be a little more generous with my stash of new blades. Yes, they can be a little costly, but investing in a good, sharp blade helps me get the most out of the gorgeous fabrics that I’ve purchased.
Mats. When my cutting mat refuses to heal, it’s time to consider replacing it. This doesn’t happen very often, but when I recently got a new one, it made a huge difference! I happen to prefer Martelli mats because, for me, they have just the right amount of firm cushioning and lets my rotary cutter roll smoothly. And I’m not sponsored by Martelli, so if you pick up one of your own, know that I don’t make any money from the recommendation. I’m just a big fan!
Rulers. I found that using a single brand of ruler for fabric cutting really upped my accuracy game. Although an inch is an inch (or any fraction thereof,) markings differ in width, quantity, color and clarity. Using a single brand means that my eye can easily focus on the right marking and allows me to place the ruler grid more consistently. I like my Nifty Notions rulers (which I believe are now are branded as Good Measure by Kaye England.) Again, I am not sponsored by Good Measure or Kaye England, but am a fan of those rulers. Whatever ruler you like best, remember that consistency is key!
Cutting can still be a challenge, but all in all, it’s become so much easier since I started applying these tips to my daily work.
I love trying new techniques! If you have a favorite cutting tip, please share it in the comments below.