Tutorial: Cut a yard of fabric in a flash

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Have you ever done a swap?

There are all kinds of them out there! People swap fabric (of course) but also finished blocks and even finished projects (usually small projects like mini quilts, bags, etc).

I recently joined an Anna Maria Horner charm square swap on Flickr (it’s full now but I’m willing to bet there will be another round soon). We each send 2 sets of 56 charm squares (5 inches) of 2 fabrics and get 2 sets of 56 different fabrics back.

I ordered some of AMH’s 2 new lines Dowry and True Colors.

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(BTW, don’t be confused if you search for True Colors at your go-to fabric sources and find multiple lines coming up under that name. It’s actually a new collection of several lines by several Free Spirit designers- all basics intended to blend with each designers’ individual typical palettes).

When I made this order I ordered an extra yard of 4 different prints for my contribution to the swap (I signed up for 2 slots, so I have to send 4 sets of 56 charms).

What’s fabulous about this is that it’s incredibly fast to cut 56 charm squares from one yard of fabric. It would take way longer to go through your stash and cut 56 charms from 56 different fabrics (if you even have that many!).

As I was cutting these charms yesterday I was thinking about my cutting tutorial from my Your 1st Quilt series. I didn’t discuss cutting multiple pieces at a time because I honestly don’t think that’s a good idea for beginners. But just in case some of you might benefit, I thought I’d do a really quick tutorial on how I cut a yard of fabric if I’m fortunate enough to need a lot of one particular size cut.

I should give credit to Camille Roskelley’s excellent first Craftsy class. I do it a little differently, but this is definitely inspired by her method and I highly recommend her class. She has a second class out now that I’ll definitely be checking out.

A yard of fabric in a flash:

1. As always, starch and press your fabric first.

2. Now hold your fabric selvedge to selvedge so that it hangs straight and place it on your cutting board. (I explain this fully in my introductory cutting tutorial here.)

3. Line up a line of your ruler with the bottom, folded edge of the fabric. Create a straight, fresh edge on one side.

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4. Working from your new fresh edge, cut into 5-inch strips. To line up your ruler with the folded edge you’ll have to rotate the board or go to the other side of your table.

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Each time make sure you are getting a good 90-degree angle. Sometimes you may need to create a new, fresh edge if that angle somehow gets off.

5. This is where it gets fancy! Carefully lay out as many 5-inch strips as your cutting board and ruler can handle. I have a large board but only a 24 inch ruler. My setup can handle 4 strips at a time.

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You’ll line the strips up using the lines of the board, but use your ruler to measure and cut.

5. Create fresh edges again by cutting off the selvedges.

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Then rotate the board and cut your strips into squares.

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Frequently double check for 90 degree angles on all corners.

If you are having trouble with the ruler slipping at the end, try pausing to move your hand higher up the ruler. I usually move my hand half way through a long cut like this. You may even want to move it twice if your ruler is particularly wild.

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When you get to the end you’ll have 56 charm squares and some small scraps left.

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I do not like to stack multiple strips, even though that would make this even faster. I have not had good results when I’ve tried that, so I don’t do it.

Accuracy is more important than speed, so check your accuracy often. If you are not getting good results, you may need to change your cutting blade or simply try different methods until you find one that works for you. This is the method that works for me!

15 thoughts on “Tutorial: Cut a yard of fabric in a flash

  1. Hi! I’m curious about the AMH swap. Any comments about it…re: what you get back….any problems people have had with fabrics exchanged. Thanks!

  2. Huh! I’d never thought of lining up all the strips to cut at once. I know stacking them isn’t the best idea because they will slip around. I’ve never done a charm swap but the thought of a AMH one is tempting me.

  3. Pingback: Barn door quilt-a-long: week 1 | Sarah Quilts

  4. Pingback: Charm Swap {Tips} – Quilting Jetgirl

  5. I followed a link from Yvonne’s blog Quilting JetGirl thinking, I can always use a nice tutorial to keep “reminding” my brain functions and hand motions LOL to know the best, most accurate process for cutting strips. I truly enjoyed reading this post and several others that were links in your posts and truly want to thank you for a spectacular series on the process of cutting strips. I am going to save them for future referrals.

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