hope you are having a great Tuesday!
I am excited to start my Each One – Teach One series of posts on Tuesdays! 🙂
I thought about this and decided to go with basics first. I teach Beginner’s Quilting class for over 10 years now and really, really LOVE it. I think most of my students like it too – at least that is what they tell me and that makes my world, every time… 🙂
My class almost always has a good combination of all kinds of beginners: some that never, ever made a quilt (or even sewed), some that tried once, long time ago and quit in frustration, some that did it long time ago with old fashioned tools (like: needle, thread and scissors only!), some that took a different class and felt they need more or some that are doing it but just want to learn more or go back to basics.
I truly believe that all of them do learn something and I KNOW that most of them keep on quilting, become fabricoholics or continue to take more and more classes and expand their creativity. I know that because I see them in local shops, quilt shows, guild meetings or shop-hops – we become friends, and that is the most wonderful thing of all! 🙂 Lucky me!!
So come with me to re-fresh your basic rotary cutting skills today or maybe even learn something new!
ROTARY CUTTING BASICS
First let me say that I cut my fabric while it is double-folded.
Why? It is easier on my hands and back and it does give me more control over the ruler (since I am able to use shorter ruler).
Does it have a hidden danger – yes. If you don’t fold your fabric properly and don’t square-up at the beginning, you can have crooked strips of fabric!
So let’s start with preparing fabric:
– regardless if you pre-wash or not (a whole another area of discussion!) this is what I do with my fabric prior to cutting:
1. Hold fabric in the air with selvages up and bring two selvage edges together as precisely as you can, but make sure your fabric is hanging straight down, without any twists in it. Your CUT edge might not be straight at this point, but that is OK! This is how it should look:
(yes, this fabric is not well pressed yet, but I do my pressing AFTER this point)
This is what you don’t want your fabric to look like: (sorry for a bit blurry photo, my camera was driving me nuts at the time and decided to not waste more time on this one… but you get the point, right? 🙂 )
I find with my students that this (above) usually happens if they try to match the cut edge of the fabric too – so just don’t even look at it, OK? 🙂
Once you have your two selvages together, at this point I would press my fabric if it needs pressing (either if you pre-washed it or even if you don’t by it has stubborn creases in it), keeping those two selvages nicely together.
2. Time to double-fold the fabric:
– lay your fabric on the cutting board with those two selvage edges up and the rest of the yardage going in the direction of your cutting hand. In other words – if you are right-handed yardage should go to the right, if you are left-handed (like me!), yardage should go to the left. Here is what I mean:
For right-handed, fabric going to the right
For left-handed, fabric going to the left (relative to where you stand and where your hand is (or my hand in this photo)
But lets get back to double-folding! As you lay your fabric with selvages on the top, bring the original fold of the fabric to the selvages:
But they will all be nice and even once you square-up your fabric, so let’s get to it! 🙂
Here is how it looks once you are ready to square-up:
I find that I have more control of the ruler if my hand is “raised” (so palm of my hand is NOT touching the ruler!), and if I put my pinky finger on the outside edge of the ruler (helps a bit with that ruler tendency to slide to the right!) – see below:
This is what I DON’T do – palm of the hand flat on the ruler:
or your thumb if that is more comfortable for you
So this is how NOT to hold the cutter: (it is simply less efficient this way):
Keep your blade straight relative to the mat:
and NOT slanted, like this: (again, less efficient this way)
Hold the small square ruler firmly in place and now align the large (cutting) ruler with it as shown below:
Now hold the larger ruler with your left hand, slide away the small ruler and you are ready to square-up fabric with your “good” hand!
Slide ruler to the left….
…until you reach the measurement line you need – in this photo it is 3″ line
Line up that line (3″ one here) with the cut edge of the fabric – ALL the way, but also keep the horizontal line at the bottom of the ruler lined-up with the fabric fold – this is very important to keep your strips straight!
NOTE: if you can’t line up BOTH lines (vertical and horizontal) at the same time, that only means your fabric is NOT properly squared-up, so go back to check that and square it up! This will happen eventually, after cutting several strips (hey, we are only human!), so pay attention to that and go back to re-square your fabric as necessary.
Put the ruler on it to check even more:
So for the sake of demonstration, what happens if you are not careful?
Below is a photo showing a ruler positioned to cut but the line is not quite lined up with fabric ALL the way:
see it closer here:
Once you cut the strip, open it and place the ruler over the fold area, see that little “hill”? Not good… 🙁
Again, important step here, to always have squares that are really SQUARE, is to keep BOTH lines aligned with the edges of fabric – your measurement line and bottom, horizontal line – see yellow arrows above!
Red arrow in the photo above is pointing to the small advantage of using the small, (6″) square ruler for cutting squares, instead of the larger, rectangular one – there is that neat “L” shaped corner that will “hug” the corner of your fabric, making alignment a bit easier. But, that is really a personal choice! I have to admit, I do it both ways, depending on what is under my hand…he, he.
Of course, if it a rectangle you need to cut, you will just use a different measurement line (cutting 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangle here):
I use my regular, general purpose ruler to cut other shapes too, if I need – triangles, diamonds… I will finish this tutorial here, (long enough already, huh?) and maybe show you those other shapes later?
This is how I teach my students and this is how I cut my fabric. What about you? Do you have any good tip or trick for accurate cutting? Please share!
Hope this is useful for getting back to some basic, and of course if you have any questions about any of it – leave me a comment, I will be glad to answer and help!
Have a teriffic Tuesday and week ahead,