Most pieced quilt blocks are made by cutting a strip, or two, or many, and then cutting those strips into segments which are sewn to other segments to form units which eventually become blocks.
How do you usually cut strips?
For most of us, it goes something like this….
(I’m right-handed, so this example describes how I cut strips.)
Fold your fabric length-wise, selvages together. Lay the fabric so that the fold is closest to you. Align the fold along the bottom, horizontal line on your cutting mat. Line up the edge of the ruler with the left, raw edge of your fabric, and trim to make a straight edge. Move your ruler over the desired width of the strip to be cut. Hold the ruler firmly in place and cut a strip from the folded edge to the selvages. Lift the ruler and remove the cut strip.
To cut the next strip, move the ruler over the desired width and cut another strip, as before.
While using this process is successful, the bulk of your fabric tends to shift upward with each stroke of the rotary cutter. Then, you have to pull the fabric back down to the bottom line and trim off the edge of your fabric to make a straight edge again.
Well, have I got good news for you.! I posted about this back in October 2017 in a Tips And Tools post called Backwards is Better, but, I think it bears repeating.
Why? Because I’ve designed a new quilt that is perfect for hosting my first Quilt Along, which I plan to reveal around the first of May 2019 and start the Quilt Along two weeks after. It will run for 6 weeks. So, watch for it!
For this quilt, I cut several strips and segmented them to make the blocks. I cut the strips using the same process in Backwards is Better.
Now, there IS a little bit of math involved, and this works best with even widths (like 2 inches or 3 inches), and with widths containing 1/2 inches as well. (2 1/2 inches, 3 1/2 inches, etc.)
If the strip width is something like, 2 1/4 inches, or 3 5/8 inches, I don’t use this method. Too much math for my brain to do quickly. That defeats the purpose of this method.
What I do is, I fold my fabric lengthwise just as before. Now, I have a cutting mat that is 68 inches long by 40 inches wide. This method can still be used on a standard cutting mat that is about 18 inches by 24 inches. You will need to reposition your fabric onto the mat, but, you can still make about 9 to 12 cuts before needing to do so.
I’m making this a two-color quilt, So I needed 30 strips, cut at 2 inches wide, of each color. I folded and laid my fabric on the mat and aligned the folded edge of the fabric with the horizontal 1-inch line of the mat, letting just a smidge hang over on the left edge at zero. I placed my acrylic ruler so that the right, cutting edge was on the 60 inch mark on the mat.
I made the first cut, lifted the ruler and moved it to the left 2 inches to the 58 inch mark and made another cut.
I continued this process all the way down the fabric, cutting every 2 inches, until I reached the zero mark. There was still just that smidge of fabric, so I made a cut at zero.
I NEVER had to readjust my fabric, cut a new straight edge, or remove any strips before making another cut. My fabric had not moved! The lower edge of the fabric is STILL on the horizontal, I-inch line. After 30 cuts! The cut strips to the right may have moved slightly up, but, it doesn’t matter because they are already cut! The ruler kept the fabric in place so that I could just cut, cut, cut.
When your pattern calls for the cutting of several strips, give this method a try.
Today is a good day for less fussing with your fabric!