So now we’ve chosen the quilt block and are ready to cut out the patchwork squares. The instructions here are for cutting with a rotary cutter, though obviously you could cut with scissors if you prefer. A word of caution: the blades on the rotary cutters are very sharp. Do remember to keep your fingers out of the path of the cutter. I have been told to keep my shoes on when I’m cutting in case I drop the rotary cutter, but I find that one a bit difficult. I prefer to work barefoot.
Your fabric will come as a length of several yards, or whatever you bought, with a width of around 42″ or 43″. Generally it is folded in half along the length so that you have a width of about 21″ to work with. I find this width too long tocut comfortably so I fold it along the length again. The fabric is now 10″ or 11″ across the width and is four layers deep.
Line up the fabric across one of the horizontal lines on your cutting mat. It is unlikely at this stage that the right hand edge of the fabric will line up with one of the vertical lines on the mat. You will almost certainly have to trim the edge to straighten it.
Hold the ruler firmly with your left hand, keeping your fingers away from the edge. Begin cutting at the bottom of the fabric (nearest you) and cut away from your body towards the top. Line the ruler up with the markings at the top and at the bottom of the mat. Try and have your bodyforward so that your hand is pressing down rather than slightly forward. This stops the ruler sliding.
I’ve never tried this, but I’ve been told that if your ruler does tend to slide across the fabric when you are cutting, a couple of dabs of nail varnish mixed with salt on the underside of the ruler will provide some grip.
When you are satisfied that the edge of the fabric is straight, move the ruler across to the left by the amount you need. In this case for the beginner quilt, I am cutting the 2.1/2″ squares so the ruler is moved 4.1/2″ to the left from the edge.
While you have the fabric lined up, it is usually easiest to keep going and cut several strips. I don’t usually cut all the strips required at the same time because I find it makes my left shoulder ache from pressing down on the ruler.
Cut squares or triangles
So now you have several strips of fabric cut 4.1/2″ wide by 42″ long. To cut these into 4.1/2″ squares lay the strip across the mat, lining up the top edge against one of the lines on the mat. First trim the selvedge (the edge of the fabric which is a bit coarse and has the fabric name on it) and then cut the fabric at 4.1/2″ intervals.
To cut fabric triangles, repeat the process above but cut 4.7/8″ squares. Cut these along the diagonal to make two triangles from each square. If you line the square up with one of the diagonal lines on the cutting mat, your cut will be more accurate.
Return to beginner quilting