Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Quilting Tutorial 1 ~ Rotary Cutting

I know there are lots of tutorials on rotary cutting available online already, but since I am starting on a series of quilting tutorials, I thought it makes sense to start with rotary cutting.

Of course, before you get started, you will need to pre-wash, dry, and iron all your fabrics, you'll need to have the right tools, and you'll need to have plenty of space on your cutting table.

Got everything ready?  Yes?  OK, let's go :-)

First, lay your fabric on your mat.  You can cut several layers at once; I find four is a good number to work with.  If you are going to cut several at once, make sure you have the edges all lined up.  If you are cutting a larger piece of fabric, you can fold it lengthwise so that it fits on your mat, making sure that you fold along the straight grain.

You need to cut one edge off first, so that you have a nice, neat, straight edge to work with.  I like to start with the selvedge, since you need to cut that off anyway.  Line the edges of your fabrics up with one of the lines on your cutting mat so that your cut will be on the grain line, and remember that the edge you are cutting off is the one on the right.  If you are cutting off a raw edge, fold your fabric along the grain line, and line the fold up with the mat.

Next, lay your ruler down, lining it up with the lines on you mat, and have the right edge of your ruler far enough over that you will cut off all the selvedges (check all your fabrics, not just the top one, as some selvedges are wider than others)

Hold your ruler firmly in place with your left hand, and pressing firmly, hold your rotary cutter against the edge of the ruler, and cut away form you.

Of course, my left hand is holding the camera, that's why you can't see it holding the ruler
Before you move the ruler away, make sure that you've cut through all layers, all the way along.  If you've missed a bit, just cut again with your rotary cutter.

Now you will need to turn your mat round so that you can cut your strips.  This would be easy if I had one of those fancy rotating cutting mats, but I don't.  You can also use two rulers, or a ruler and square, to cut off the edge without turning your work round, and this is handy if you're cutting from a long piece of fabric.  But I find it easiest to put my board on the corner of the table, and when I need to turn the board, I just move to the end of the table and turn the board a quarter turn, like this:

(Doesn't my table look wonderfully neat and tidy?)

Next we cut some strips.  I am making 2 1/2" squares, so I need strips that are 2 1/2" wide.  Use the ruler to measure the width you need, lining up your freshly cut edge with the correct line on the ruler, then cut just like you did before.  This time, you are cutting the left edge of your fabric.

Working from left to right across your fabric, cut as many strips as you need.

Now working with your strips, first make sure that all your edges are lined up (if you are working with several layers, that is) and then you will need to cut off the rough end of your strip (the one on the right.)

Now, turn you board around so that you can cut your squares, working from left to right.  If you have just one strip, you can simply turn the strip, but if you have several layers, you want all your edges to stay lined up, so turn the whole board.  Line up the top edge of your strip with a line on the ruler, and the short left hand edge with the correct line for the size of square you want to cut, and cut away.

And voila!  You can quickly and easily cut hundreds of squares, ready to be made into a beautiful quilt!

In my next tutorial, I will show you how to chain piece, a really quick and easy method for joining your squares together. So please stay tuned :)

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