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5 essential cutting tips for any quilt project

by Sarah Vanderburgh

Starting a quilt project is as much fun as finishing one! Today we start cutting our pieces for the spring quilt using Stonehenge Gradations Brights by Northcott. With very little effort you can add a lot of texture and movement to your quilt projects by using this fabric.

Cutting of 1" of selvage

Cutting of 1″ of selvage

Cutting tips

Before we get into the cutting I thought I’d share a 5 tips that will help with accurate cutting.

1. Use the right sized ruler for the job. It’s easier to cut accurately with a ruler that is longer than the size of fabric you need to cut. Sometimes this means getting creative cutting the first long strips – in this case you can fold the fabric in half (and maybe in half again!) to get a piece of fabric that is shorter than your ruler. There is also a tool out there to combine two rulers to get the length you need. I find as long as I use the same method to cut each size, my cutting is accurate.

2. Use a new blade – treat yourself to the ease of using a new blade for cutting up all of this fabric! It will make the process a lot easier on your body and will help ensure accurate cutting. You and your quilt are worth it!

3. Flip over strip and trim. Once you’ve cut the required strip, flip it over and trim the beginning of the strip even on both sides. This will ensure that you don’t cut pieces too small on the second half of the strip – especially if you’re cutting the strip while it’s folded.

Keep pieces organized

Keep pieces organized

4. Keep cut pieces organized and labelled – there’s nothing like the frustration of having cut out all the pieces you need and then not be able to find them! Give them a dedicated container or space to keep them altogether. It’s also useful to label the pieces; for this quilt I made a label for each color that lists the number of pieces of each size cut.

5. Cut off 1″ of selvage – this may be a personal preference. I enjoy using selvages in projects and the longer the piece I have to start with, the better. Before I start cutting pieces I cut 1″ of selvage off each side of the fabric. You can see in the photo above that I store them with the project they are from until the project is over. Sometimes the project itself will give me inspiration what to make with the selvages.

Time to Cut!

Cut strips WIDTH of fabric – from selvage to selvage.

Cut pieces in the order listed to make the best use of your fabric:

Fabric A (Blue Background) 39300-62

for borders cut 7 – 2½ʺ strips
cut 1 – 12½” strip; subcut into a total of 4 – 12½ʺ strip; subcut into a total of 4 – 12½ʺ x 8½ʺ units.
cut 5 – 5″ strips; cut into a total of 40 – 5″ squares.
cut 4 – 4½ʺ strips; subcut 3 strips into a total of 12 – 4½ʺ x 8½ʺ units;
subcut remaining strip for a total of 8 – 4½ʺ squares.
cut 2 – 3″ strips; subcut for a total of 24 – 3″ squares.
cut 3 – 2½ʺ strips; subcut 1 into a total of 6 – 2½ʺ x 4½ʺ units;

subcut the remaining 2 strips into a total of 30 – 2½ʺ squares.

*note* before I cut the last 3 – 2½ʺ strips I used up the offcuts from the previous strips first. Then I cut an additional strip if required. This let me save a piece of the
blue to use later – for the label perhaps? – or in another side project.

I got all of my 2½ʺ x 4½ʺ units and 19 of my 30 2½ʺ squares from the offcuts! I only needed to cut one more strip!

cut 5 – 5″ strips; cut into a total of 40 – 5″ squares.
cut 4 – 4½ʺ strips; subcut 3 strips into a total of 12 – 4½ʺ x 8½ʺ units;

subcut remaining strip for a total of 8 – 4½ʺ squares.

cut 2 – 3″ strips; subcut for a total of 24 – 3″ squares.
cut 3 – 2½ʺ strips; subcut 1 into a total of 6 – 2½ʺ x 4½ʺ units;

subcut the remaining 2 strips into a total of 30 – 2½ʺ squares.

*note* before I cut the last 3 – 2½ʺ strips I used up the offcuts from the previous strips first. Then I cut an additonal strip if required. This let me save a piece of the blue to use later – for the label perhaps? – or in another side project.

I got all of my 2½ʺ x 4½ʺ units and 19 of my 30 2½ʺ squares from the offcuts! I only needed to cut one more strip!

Fabric B  39301-85

cut 1 – 5 inch strip; subcut into 4 – 5 inch squares.

From the rest of the strip cut a total of 4 – 4 1/2 inch squares.

cut 2 – 3 inch strips and cut a total of 24 – 3 inch squares.
cut 1 – 2 1/2 inch strip and cut a total of 6 – 2 1/2 inch squares.

Fabric C 39300-85

cut 1 – 5 inch strip; subcut into 6 – 5 inch squares. From rest of strip cut 1 – 4.5 inch square.

cut 1 – 2 1/2 inch strip; subcut a total of 6 – 2 1/2 inch squares.

Fabric D 39300-84

cut 1 – 5″ strip; subcut into 7 – 5″ squares.

cut 1 – 4½ʺ strip; subcut into 6 – 4½ʺ squares.

From rest of strip cut a total of 6 – 2½ʺ squares.

Fabric E 39303-84

cut 1 – 5″ strip; subcut into 7 – 5″ squares.

cut 1 – 4½ʺ strip; subcut into 6 – 4½ʺ squares.

From rest of strip cut a total of 6 – 2½ʺ squares.

Fabric F  39302-85

cut 1 – 5″ strip; subcut into 7 – 5″ squares.

cut 1 – 4½ʺ strip; subcut into 6 – 4½ʺ squares.

From rest of strip cut a total of 6 – 2½ʺ squares.

Fabric G (Spring Green) 39302-72

Cut 2 – 5″ strips: subcut for a total of 8 – 5″ squares.

Fabric H (Light Green) 39303-71

Cut 2 – 5″ strips; subcut for a total of 8 – 5″ squares.

Backing and Binding

BACKING * is cut to give an extra 3″ on each side
Cut fabric into 2 pieces of size 45″ x 74″. Then:

cut selvages from each side of one piece.

Cut 1 selvage from second piece, then cut a 16″ wide x 74″ panel.
Sew piece and panel together on one long edge; press the seam open.

For binding use the leftover from the second piece to cut 7 – 2½ʺ strips
Sew them together using diagonal seams to make one continuous binding of approximately 270″ long.

Sun shining through quilt top

Sun shining through quilt top

That’s a LOT of cutting! Next comes putting together the various purples in the Amethyst colorway from Northcott’s Stonehenge Gradations Brights to create the spring quilt. Keep you pieces organized and stay tuned for the next post!

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1:  Use Stonehenge Gradations Brights to add texture to your quilt

Go to part 3:  Sewing the spring quilt from the center out

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20 comments

Susan June 13, 2016 - 9:45 am

Nice fabrics. Thanks for the tips.

Reply
Ali May 18, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Great Suggestions!

Reply
Jenna May 12, 2016 - 6:06 am

I love the fabrics and the pattern

Reply
Peggy May 10, 2016 - 8:51 am

Thanks for the tips!

Reply
Pauline Perry May 9, 2016 - 12:17 am

Great advice – I really need to get organised.

Reply
Quilting Jeannie May 7, 2016 - 11:35 am

I love sewing with Northcott fabrics and am always happy with the results in my quilts. This is another great example of the colors I love. I’d love to win this bundle and give this block a try. Thank you. Happy Mother’s day to all you Moms out there. Best gig in the world.

Reply
Roxanne Hartwig May 6, 2016 - 9:50 am

Beautiful fabrics and love the block!

Reply
Sarah Vanderburgh May 6, 2016 - 10:10 am

Thanks Roxanne! I agree – the Northcott Stonehenge Gradations Brights are beautiful and perfect for spring projects!

Reply
Doris McCarty May 6, 2016 - 7:55 am

Thank you for the tips.!

Reply
Nancy McCaffrey May 6, 2016 - 5:49 am

Staying organized is something I teach my quilting students (ages 7 and up!). Since they’re traveling to take the class, I make sure they are instructed to keep their pieces in ziploc bags and write on the bag what those pieces are (sashings, bindings, etc). The less that fabric is handled the less stringy the edges are! No one likes thready edges 🙂

Reply
Ani May 6, 2016 - 3:00 am

Beautiful fabrics! And thanks for the cutting tips

Reply
Denise Mitchell May 5, 2016 - 8:18 pm

Great advice!!!!

Reply
Sarah Vanderburgh May 5, 2016 - 8:20 pm

Thanks! I hope you enjoy trying some of them out:)

Reply
Linda Webster May 5, 2016 - 7:35 pm

I love these colours in this block. And thanks so much for the cutting tips.

Reply
Sarah Vanderburgh May 5, 2016 - 8:22 pm

It was a pleasure to work with these beautiful fabrics from Northcott. I hope the tips help you enjoy cutting your fabrics:)

Reply
Quilty May 5, 2016 - 4:45 pm

Great pattern, and very good advices!

Reply
Quilty May 5, 2016 - 4:40 pm

Great pattern, and very good advices!!

Reply
LINDA May 5, 2016 - 4:20 pm

SUCH USEFUL INFO. THANK YOU !

Reply
MaryBeth Little May 5, 2016 - 8:38 am

Thanks for the good advice.

Reply
Sarah Vanderburgh May 5, 2016 - 10:06 am

Your welcome, MaryBeth! Every little tip helps when it comes to accurate cutting:)

Reply

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