Last week, we covered some basics about rulers and fabric cutting safety. This week, I’ll cover some more ruler tips – specifically all those other lines on the ruler that we overlook. Then, I will cover how to square up your fabric. So let’s get started!
Random Ruler Tips
Tip #1: 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.
Tip #2: The 45 degree line comes in handy when you are trimming a half-square or quarter-square triangle square. Place the diagonal ruler line on the diagonal seam of your square to guarantee that you are trimming the square evenly on all sides!
Tip #3: Finally, to quickly identify where to place your ruler, notice the lines between the inches are different lengths. Early on in my quilting life 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 than both of those. This helps you find measurements like 2 3/8″ and 3 3/4″ quickly on the ruler.
These may seem like simple tips but they are good to remember to help you use your quilt ruler more effectively!
Squaring Up Fabric
Squaring up your piece of fabric is a very important step that should not be skipped. Especially if you are cutting long strips that you will sub-cut into smaller pieces. If you start with a distorted strip, all the pieces you cut from that strip can be off in their measurements.
When fabric is rolled onto the bolt at the manufacturer, the lengthwise grain of the fabric can end up not being straight. So when you get your cut of fabric, you will need to square it up so strips that you cut from the fabric are not bent in the middle. Here are two strips side by side:
Notice how the strip on the left bends away from the line on the mat and the one on the right does not? That’s why we square up! Because we don’t want strips that are distorted like the one on the left. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Press your fabric making sure to press out the crease from the fold.
Step 2: Line up the selvedge edges of your fabric:
When you have the selvages lined up but your fabric looks “wavy”, like the photo on the left, you need to shift the fabric, while keeping the selvedges lined up, so that it lays flat on the cutting mat (photo on right). Don’t worry if the non-selvage sides of the fabric don’t line up.
Step 3: Lay a ruler along the fabric’s bottom edge, lined up with the fold of the fabric. I use my small square for this.
Now lay your large ruler on the left side and butt it up against the small ruler, while holding the small ruler so it doesn’t shift.
Remove the small ruler while keeping your hand on the large one so it doesn’t shift. Then cut. As you can see in the photo below, the edge of the fabric you cut off is just a scrap.
Now you have perfectly squared fabric! It’s ready for you to cut strips so you can cut the pieces needed for your project. If you are cutting a large amount of strips, you may have to re-square the fabric as the layers can shift slightly as you cut. If it looks to you like the fabric has shifted, perform the above steps again to re-square the fabric. This is one of the reasons why I like to purchase a little extra fabric when I buy. It gives me some breathing room in case I have to re-square my fabric or if I make a cutting error. Below is a mini- tutorial video I did demonstrating squaring up fabric:
So, that’s it for this week. I hope that you enjoyed this post, even if it was only a review of ruler markings and squaring fabric for you. Comment below to be entered in the drawing for my pattern, Marbles & Jacks!
The drawing will be on Monday, July 20th. **We have a winner! Congrats, Lisa Gebel!**