Darn! November is continuing to be a very cold month! It’s been feeling like January instead. Maybe January will feel like November? I can only hope!
I was cutting out a project earlier this week and thought about some tips I can share. It never hurts to brush up on the measuring and fabric cutting skills, right? I’ll share these tips in this post and hopefully what I share is helpful to you and makes your quilting experience more enjoyable! I’ll also throw in some ruler usage tips to make cutting and other tasks easier.
That old adage of “measure twice, cut once” is true. I have cut strips before that I though were 2 1/2″ wide only to find I cut them 2 1/4″ wide because I was looking at the wrong line on my ruler! Always line up the ruler with the edge of your fabric and double check that your ruler is placed correctly. Also make sure it’s not crooked. I’ve done that too. I like rulers that have the numbers marked (instead of just having to look for a line) in the middle as well as on the ends so you can check your placement.
Notice on my Creative Grids ruler (my favorite brand), the numbers you want to use are the ones right side up and going right to left on the ruler. I like these markings because I do not have to depend solely on the lines.
To keep the ruler from shifting while you cut, use even pressure with your hand, not too heavy and not too light. Also make sure your hand is in the center of the ruler. Even if your ruler has gripper dots on the underside (which the Creative Grid ruler does), it can still shift if you are not holding it down correctly. “Tent” your hand as shown in the photo below with your pinkie on the edge to keep the ruler from moving. If you place your hand flat on the ruler, you may inadvertently push the ruler forward. Tenting your hand makes the pressure your are exerting go down instead of forward.
When you are cutting a long strip, you may want to stop briefly and move your hand up the ruler so you can keep the pressure even through the entire cutting of the strip.
If you have trouble applying pressure with your hand alone, there’s some handy little tools that help you with that. Here is one such tool called the Little Gripper by The Gypsy Quilter.
Make sure your rotary cutter is straight and hugging the edge of your ruler all the way through the cut you are making. You want your rotary cutter straight like this:
Not angled like this:
Make sure your blade is sharp. It’s a good rule of thumb to replace your blade after cutting out a project. Now, if I’m cutting smaller table runner or mini wall hangings, I may cut out 3 or 4 of those before changing my blade. But, if I am cutting out a large quilt, I will change my blade when I am done with that. One way you can tell if your blade is dull is if there are “skips” in the cut you are making or if you have to press down harder than normal when cutting. If that happens, change your blade!
- While cutting out a project, it’s a good idea to use the same brand of ruler for all the pieces. Different brands of rulers can have lines of different thickness. Even if they are off by 1/16 of an inch, it could cause a problem when you are piecing.
- You can use the ruler to find the center of a piece of fabric or block by using the markings on the ruler.
- Those intersecting white lines and the circle where they meet is the exact center of the ruler. This comes in handy when squaring up blocks or when you are fussy cutting a piece of fabric.
- The 45 degree line comes in handy when you are trimming a half-square or quarter-square triangle square. Place the diagonal line on the diagonal seam of your square to guarantee that you are trimming the square evenly on all sides!
- Finally, to quickly identify where to place your ruler, notice the lines between the inches are different lengths. Early on in my quilting I never paid attention to this. The 1/8″ lines are slightly shorter than the 1/4″ lines and the 1/2″ line is longer that both of those. This helps you find measurements like 2 3/8″ and 3 3/4″ quickly on the ruler.
So that’s it for this week. I hope you find this post informative! Leave me a comment on your cutting and ruler tips. We all learn something new every day! I will be drawing a winner from the comments to receive a Little Gripper tool!
Drawing will be on Monday, 11/25 so you have time to enter!