Out of all the comments on the blog, or talking to people in real life, I hear most often; I wish I could sew or crochet. These two things seem to get about the same amount of people wishing they knew how to do it too. Truly they are not that hard. I am not an expert in either, I am however happy to try to pass on what knowledge I do have.
There are some amazing seamstresses that have blogs. I am not one of them.
I do know how to put together a pieced quilt though.
I thought I would walk you through how to cut your fabric straight and then how to cut it into strips for the Piano Keys Table Runner I made last week. Because a table runner really is just a very small quilt.
Here is a reminder of the table runner. We are cutting the "Piano Keys" today.
There are a lot of differences in sewing, for quilting and sewing wearable items. One of the biggest differences ,for me, is the seam allowance. In quilting a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance is standard. Meaning unless your pattern tells you differently you have one or two threads less than a 1/4 of an inch for your seam. Not very much room for error. When making wearable items 5/8 of an inch is the standard seam allowance. A lot more room and you can trim your fabric, after you sew it, to make it straight and lay well.
Making sure you have a strait cut is one of the most important things to make sure your quilt turns out the way you want it to. I am sure there are many different ways to get a strait cut. I'm going to show you how I do it. You of course can use this method to cut any size strip.
Self healing cutting mat
Rotary Cutter Ruler
In quilting there is the debate about washing your fabric before you sew or not. I don't wash my fabric before I sew it for quilting. If I am making something wearable I will wash and dry the fabric first. There are two reasons I don't wash my fabric first. One I like the way it looks after it has shrunk up around the stitching. It makes the quilting stand out more. Two....., that's the way my mom does it.
Do take the time to iron your fabric before you cut into it. Big creases will throw your measurements off and can cause your fabric to be uneven.
I am using fabric scraps. You would straighten an entire piece of fabric the same way. When you by fabric rarely, if ever, is is going to be straight.
After your fabric is ironed lay it out on your cutting board and fold it the long way.
Line your fold up with a long line on your cutting mat. Do your best to match up the edges at the top.
Line up your fold and the raw edge of your fabric on a intersecting line on your mat.
Take your ruler and line it up with your fabric too. I know it seams like a lot of lines to have lined up. This is a really good way to insure that you have a strait line. The edge of your ruler should line up with the line you are cutting on and a strait line (any straight line) should line up with the fold of your fabric at the same time.
Now we are ready to cut. You want to make sure your ruler and fabric will NOT move. You don't want to ruin all your hard work getting everything straight. The most common way to do this is by using what is called the spider hold. This is where you press your hand and all your fingers out on the ruler. You want as much pressure as you can on the most area of the ruler. Like This,
A word of caution at this point. Rotary cutters are amazingly sharp. They are made to cut though several layers of fabric at the same time. I could tell you scary stories I heard from the ladies I used to go to quilt guild with. I could, but I wont. It is enough to say PLEASE keep your fingers away from the edge of the ruler. Also make sure you ALWAYS put the guard back up on your cutter. If you have kiddos or pets around while you are working with you cutter. Put it up HIGH when you are not using it.
Get your cutter and hold it flush against the edge of your ruler you are cutting on.
Using the spider hold, hold down the ruler and fabric using the other hand "roll" the cutter along the ruler. Now you should have a nice straight cut.
This is how I cut the fabric to make my Piano Keys Table Runner:
To cut your fabric into strips at this point, move your ruler not your fabric. Your fabric is all lined up and straight try not to move it at all. One square on my mat is one inch. So I am cutting a two inch strip. Now cut along the edge of your ruler.
You can keep counting over for as many strips as you need.
We have a nice strait 2 inch strip. Keep your fabric folded. We need to cut off the salvage edge. This is the opposite edge of the fold when we cut the large piece of fabric.
After cutting off the salvage edge. Move your ruler over four inches. Line up the edge of the ruler with the solid line on your mat. Cut along your ruler. Now you have two straight 2x4 inch strips. (remember we kept it folded)
I used 18- 2x4 inch strips on each side of the solid strip in the middle.
So what do you think? Did it make sense? Was it helpful? Do you think you can make some strait cuts? Would you want more tutorials like this one? Let me know what you think or if you don't care you can tell me that too. :) If you have any questions please let me know I am always happy to help if I can.
Thanks for stoppin' by and hangin' out.