CUTTING ACCURATE QUILTS

Jun 23rd 2015

Hello Quilting Friends! Just a Tuesday TIP, I hope you find this information useful!

When cutting fabric using our rulers and mats, we often are taught to lay out our fabric and make our cuts by using the guides on the mat along with the measurements provided. Most mats have increments of measurement up to 1/8 of an inch. This makes cutting 1/16 of an inch measurements more difficult. We often “fudge” things or “eyeball” it. However, even be¬ing off that much in some patterns can be quite a problem and can cause an entire quilt to be thrown off in the end. 

We spend a fair amount of time and money when making these treasures, so accuracy is best. My first and hardiest recommendation is to purchase a ruler with 1/16 inch increments. This way you will have the most accuracy when measuring and cutting your fabric. It will also allow you to cut layers of fabric quickly without trying to figure out where to cut next or moving your fabric at all (yes I am guilty of that too....lol). 

Cut your fabric using a ruler with these increments of measure following these guidelines. First, cut your fabric to get a straight edge that you will use to cut your required measurement from. Instead of measuring your fabric from the guides on the cutting mat and sliding your ruler along making your cuts, use your ruler to determine where to cut as in the example in Figure 1. This shows the fabric strip being cut at the 2 5/16 mark, then you would move the ruler to the right and position it at the 2 5/16 mark again and make your next cut. 

If you are left handed you can use this same method just switch and cut from the opposite side.

Once you have your strips cut, you can then make layers of at least two strips and cut them using the same method as in Figure 2. Move the ruler to the marked increments and make the cut you need. This will actually work with any size cut making it easier than counting out squares or marks on your cutting mat grid and not moving your fabric for those difficult to count out cuts.I searched for rulers that had the 1/16 of an inch markings and found few out there that met my needs. I did find a selection from Quilters Rule that have many options for you to purchase. Their Basic Blocks and Simple Strips rulers are perfect for those hard to cut measurements. They can be purchased on-line at the companies website www.quiltersrule.com

If purchasing a new ruler is not an option for you at this time, you can use this same method using a piece of masking tape to mark your ruler in the exact place you need it, then positioning your ruler on your fabric at the edge of the tape and making your cut just as you would if the ruler had its marks. You will need to make sure that where you place your tape is accurate. I accomplished this on one of my trials using a dressmakers ruler with a sliding guide. In the past I have even drawn a line on my cutting mat with a fine lead technical pencil for my guide, but that required moving my fabric. However moving my ruler rather than my fabric is a better choice to ensure accuracy.  If you would like to download this as a PDF for future reference click on the link below.

I hope these tips make your experience a more pleasant and accurate one!

Thanks! 

Cutting Accurate Quilts PDF