Welcome to the first week of the Down Memory Lane Quilt-Along!
I am so excited to be piecing this quilt along with you.
For my version of this pattern I am using a scrappy bundle of Bonnie & Camille reds and pinks. For the background I have chosen a simple polka dot fabric.
Let’s get this quilt-along started with,
5 Essential Tips for Cutting Your Fabric Pieces
1. Invest in the right tools for the job.
To some this will be obvious, but if you are new to patchwork and quilting then it might not seem important. BUT IT IS!! Quality tools do make a difference to the outcome of your project.
A rotary cutter with a sharp blade, a quality self-healing cutting mat, and acrylic rulers designed for quilters are essential tools for any patchwork project.
My essential toolbox contains the following:
- An Olfa 45mm rotary cutter. I always keep at least one replacement blade on hand and change the blade after every couple of projects. If I know my project calls for a lot of trimming, I will invest in a new blade to make the process less stressful on my hands.
- An Olfa self-healing cutting mat. Purchase the biggest mat you have space for to ensure you can cut large pieces if the need arises.
- A small Fiskars rotating mat. The surface of the Fiskars mat feels quite different to the Olfa mat and takes a little bit of getting used to. However, in conjunction with a sharp blade it ensures a clean cut when trimming back small fabric pieces. It is easy to manipulate and turn without being too easy to turn (and running the risk of the mat accidentally rotating while trimming).
- Creative Grids rulers. These rulers are my current favourites. They rarely slip when you are using them thanks to the unique surface on the base of the ruler that grips the fabric and keeps the ruler in place. They are ‘mostly’ easy to read, and they provide accurate pieces when using the guidelines.
Not essential, but something else I have been using a lot lately is a portable book light. Good lighting is a must when cutting, but it is not always available when cutting at night. I find this light can be easily positioned to reduce shadows and is a great tool to have nearby. This particular light is a USB rechargable Raniaco LED reading light, – I purchased mine through Amazon.
2. All fabric needs to be ironed to remove any creases prior to cutting.
Don’t be tempted to skip this step as wrinkled fabric will lead to inaccurate pieces.
3. Never cut more than 2 pieces of fabric at the same time.
If cutting strips across the width of the fabric, fold the fabric in half aligning the selvedge edges towards the top of the mat. Be sure the bottom fold aligns with a horizontal line on the lower end of your cutting mat close to you.
If you are right-handed (like me), the leading edge of the fabric to be trimmed will be on the left side of your cutting mat, and vice versa if you are left-handed.
Using a vertical line on your mat as a reference, trim the leading edge of the fabric. If you have a perfect 90° corner this will ensure the full strip is straight throughout the middle of the strip, and the folded fabric is precisely aligned. (This is extremely important when you are cutting borders.)
Once the edges are square you can begin to cut the requisite number of strips by sliding the ruler over and measuring the required width with you ruler.
You may find it necessary to realign the bottom horizontal edge and trim the leading edge every few inches throughout the strip cutting process. Always aim to trim away the minimum necessary from the side so you don’t waste precious fabric.
However, if you are required to cut an even number of pieces per strip, you may be able to ignore the folded portion of the fabric entirely. Generally when this is an option I will cut the strip width, then trim the top selvedges, and then proceed to sub-cut my pieces from this end, discarding the bottom folded edge.
4. Use a consistent brand of acrylic ruler.
I have a couple of different brands of rulers in my arsenal of equipment and lets just say that not all rulers are created equal! As I mentioned earlier, my go to rulers are currently made by Creative Grids. For this quilt I recommend:
- a 6-1/2″ x 24-1/2″ ruler for strip cutting,
- a 10-1/2″ square ruler for most of the piece cutting, and
- a 7-1/2″ square for the trimming.
5. Place the line on your ruler on top of the edge of the fabric piece being cut.
We often discuss the need for a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, but we rarely discuss the importance of ensuring your cutting is NOT scant. When using your ruler, place the measuring line on top of the fabric edge (rather than aligned next to it).
It is also better to use only your ruler to measure the cut pieces, rather than your cutting mat. A combination of the two will not yield a consistent measurement. And, using the cutting mat alone will prove inconsistent as the mat ages and the lines distort through regular cutting.
Specific tips for the Quilt-Along pattern
- The full size pattern
The pattern instructions are based on a useable 42″ piece of fabric. If your fabric isn’t this wide you will not get the prescribed number of small background squares from the suggested (12) sub strip count. But, don’t worry, you will be able to get all your pieces from the leftover pieces of fabric. (This will seem confusing unless you have a problem. So, if you are using narrower background fabric and need further clarification please email me directly.)
There are two specific notes in the cutting instructions – please read them so you understand the best way to cut your fabric, and why you will have an extra block at the end of the piecing process.
- The mini quilt pattern
When cutting tiny pieces for any mini quilt you need to take extra care to ensure the pieces are accurate.
If you have difficulty handling small pieces you may wish to apply starch to your fabric prior to cutting. This will stiffen the fabric slightly and provide extra stability while handling the pieces.
Until next week,
If you are yet to join the quilt-along, there is still time…
If you have a specific tip related to cutting, I would love to hear about it – leave me a comment and let me know.
|Week 2||Piecing the blocks|
|Week 3||Continue piecing the blocks|
|Week 4||Quilt top assembly|
|Week 6||Backing and binding preparation|
|Week 7||Quilt Parade|