As a sewer and quilter myself, I know just what you mean! Cutting into
beautiful (and sometimes expensive) cloth can be very intimidating.
However, there are things you can do to gain confidence:
? Start out right. Unless you want your finished quilt to have a
wrinkled, older appearance (some quilters like this), always
pre-shrink your cloth. Wash the fabric in the hottest water you?ll
wash the finished quilt in, then dry it thoroughly in the dryer. To
prevent wrinkles in long lengths of cloth, try folding the fabric and
basting the edges before you wash and dry it.
? Double check your pattern. Especially if you?re drafting your own
patterns, double?even triple?check everything. Measure, and measure
again. If you?re using a commercial pattern, double check that you
have all the pattern pieces you?ll need and that they are cut out
? Lay out your cloth in a suitable place. Preferably, you have some
sort of exclusive table for cutting. It shouldn?t be the kitchen or
dining room table, because you need to be able to leave your work
partially done, if needed, without having to worry about moving and
getting re-organized later.
? Have everything handy. Gather all the equipment and supplies you may
need; if you have to stop in the middle of the cutting process to
search for something, you may loose track of what you?re doing.
? Double check your layout. If you?re working with a commercial
pattern that comes with a layout, make sure you understand it fully
before you do any laying out or cutting. Lay out your pieces, then
double check your layout again. When quilting, it may help to have
more than one template, so you can better see how the layout is going
to work on the cloth.
? I often like to stop at this point, and pick up the actual cutting
the next day. I find that coming to a layout with a fresh mind the
next day really helps prevent mistakes. I don?t just dig into cutting
the following day, however; I check my layout AGAIN for mistakes. THEN
? Do all your cutting at once. With most quilts, you are cutting the
same shapes repeatedly, but on different fabrics. If you do all the
cutting at once, you?re less likely to loose track of what you?re
doing. At the very least, cut out all the pieces in each fabric at the
same time. For example, don?t start on the blue cloth, and leave it
half done, to finish on another day. Finish the blue cloth, so that
you can start with the red the next time you get to your project. It
is best to finish all your cutting in one day, or in several
consecutive days, so that you don?t loose track of what you?re doing.
? If you?re unsure with a rotary cutter, don?t use one. Rotary cutters
are great time savers for quilters, but if you?re afraid of
mis-cutting with one, it?s no longer an effective tool. Use
bent-handled shears meant for cutting fabric, if that makes you feel
? Don?t buy cheap cutting tools. It pays to invest in good quality
rotary cutters and/or shears.
? Make sure your rotary cutter blade is appropriate for the layers of
fabric you?re cutting. Some quilters love to cut several fabrics at
once, but this won?t work well unless your blade can accommodate all
those layers. A larger blade is needed for thick fabrics or many
? Until you have more skill, don?t layer multiple fabrics for cutting.
The more layers you add, the easier it is to cut inaccurately.
? Use sharp cutting tools. Change the blade on your rotary cutter with
every project, and have your shears sharpened regularly. Dull cutting
tools result in inaccurate cutting.
? If you aren?t using templates, measure, then measure again. The old
saying: ?Measure twice, cut once? is a good one. It?s easy to mis-read
a ruler, so if you?re just using a ruler to cut out squares, double
check each and every measurement. Ultimately, though, if you?re
uncomfortable just measuring and cutting, you?re probably better off
making a template for yourself ahead of time. Another option is to
mark your fabric with a fabric-marking pencil (better than a
disappearing ink pen, which may result in yellow marks years after
your quilt is finished), and double check the measurements that way.
? Understand grain and make sure your fabric?s grain is straight
before you cut. (See recommended articles, below.)
? Buy extra fabric. When I started sewing, I always bought a little
extra fabric. Usually, I didn?t need it. But if I did happen to make a
mistake in cutting, it wasn?t a disaster; I use my extra fabric and no
one knew the better!
In addition, you may find the following articles helpful:
? ?Rotary Cutting Basics,? Sew News:
? ?Cutting,? Stitch Guide:
? ?Quilt Cutting Methods,? Better Homes and Gardens:
? ?Understanding Fabric Grain,? Homes and Gardens Television:
? ?Understanding Fabric Grain,? Scrap Quilts:
? ?Fabric and Grainlines,? About.com:
And remember: The more cutting you do, the more confident you?ll become!
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