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​​How To Cut Accurately

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Quilting is a little like the chicken and the egg dilemma… what makes for accurate piecing? A perfect ¼” seam or accurate cutting? Well, I vote for accurate cutting :) The ¼” seam is important too, but you can’t add fabric that isn’t there! So, making your cuts count is the first step to success! Let me show you what I do and hopefully this will give you some tips, if cutting has been a problem for you.

First, make sure your fabric is folded so the selvages are parallel with each other. This is especially important if the fabric has been pre-washed or came off the bolt wonky. It’s always a good idea to double check that the fabric lays flat and doesn’t have a twisted look.

Then, I line the fabric up on my cutting mat with the folded edge lined up along one of the mat's grid lines. This will ensure that the fabric is square on the mat, and my first cut to clean off the edge will be accurate.

Next, I line up my ruler using the grid lines on the mat (in this case I am using the 1” line). The scraggly bits that hang over this line are going to be removed in my first cut.

Take a look at the ruler lines here, you want to make sure they line up along the folded edge. If they are way off, you know there is something warping or twisting the fabric.

Now, I make my first clean-up cut. Starting from my end of the mat and cutting away from me (never towards me), I place my hand firmly on the ruler and cut just to the end of my fingertips. Then, I walk my hand further down the ruler and finish the cut off the end of the strip. Doing each cut like this will help eliminate ruler slippage and provide support for the cut all the way across the strip.

I am cutting 2½” strips from this piece of fabric, so I turn the fabric around 180 degrees (you can also just turn the board). I will use the lines on the ruler to make my strip cuts. I make sure the 2½” line rides along the cut edge all the way down the strip. If there is a problem with the strip being wonky, It should be obvious now.

Just as before, I make these cuts in two stages, walking my fingertips down the ruler to provide the most support.

One thing to watch out for is ruler creep. After cutting several strips, sometimes, you will see the ruler is no longer square on the folded edge. That means it’s time for a new clean up cut. If you don’t make adjustments at this point, each strip will get increasingly more wonky and even the “smallest” amount off will give you quite a “wow” in your strip. And, that can be very frustrating!

Well, there it is folks :) I hope someone finds this helpful!

Happy Sunday, everyone!


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Thanks so much for these tips. I try so hard to have everything perfect but when I go to sew, things are not so perfect. I have also found if you angle your rotary cutter too much that will also change the size you cut. Just a tiny amount but it does make a difference. I now try to keep the blade straight up. Is this the correct way? Do you angle the blade to the left or right or straight up? Amazing how many things can effect the end result. Frustrating at times!! Your posts are so helpful. Thank you!!

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