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Cutting fabric precisely

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Donna Miller Posted: Wed, Mar 9 2011 7:40 PM

When cutting strips, place your ruler to the left (if your right-handed) of the end of your fabric.  This allows you to place the line of your ruler completely, top to bottom, on your cutting mat, allowing you to eliminate the "smile" at the fold of the fabric.  Place your left hand pinky beside your ruler, anchoring it, cut to the top of your longest finger, keeping weight on your blade, move your left hand further along the ruler, cut, move hand, cut until your strip is completed.  Take your time and your strips will be perfect.  I also cut 2-3 threads wider than I need, I may have to "square up" but I know my finished square is accurate.

Most quilting books show placing the ruler to the left of the end of fabric, showing just a part of the line on your cutting mat.  When I cut to my left, my strips are even from selvage to selvage, no waste and not time is spent recutting strips.

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Leslie replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 5:30 AM

Hi stitchwitch, great advice, welcome to the club.

[Ava, Missouri

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Lynne replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 7:56 AM

I am having a problem cutting my strips or lack there of.  I match the selvages, lay the fabric down, take my ruler and line it up with the fold on the bottom.  I then cut the off the left side so that I have a straight line or so I thought.   Then I will start cutting strips.  They are not even.  They seem to go off on an angle.  I am about 1/32" off especially when I go to make squares.  I have been working on this for the past 3 nights for about 2 hrs. per night.  I know that practice makes perfect, but it isn't and I don't know what I am doing wrong.  I was also told not to use the lines on the mat because that aren't as accurate as the ruler.

 

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gini replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:16 AM

lynne, you ruler is probably moving on you.   if you have some spray basting glue,   lightly spray the back side of the ruler with it and there will be less slipping.   i need to square up the cutting line every few strips or so, because of the ruler moving a tad each time.     i use the lines on the matts all the time and haven't had an issue with it.      gini

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Lynne replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:30 AM

Gini,  thank you very much for the tip.  I will look for the basting glue.

 

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gini replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:38 AM

lynne, if you have masking tape you can put some little strips of those on the back and see if that helps.      gini

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gini replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:39 AM

i have been replacing my rulers with Creative Grid rulers,   they have one rough side and there isn't nearly as much trouble with slipping.   i like the color of their lines and the lines are a lot finer.    the spray glue works the best though.   the spray glue also works wonderful on plastic templates,  making them no-slide.     gini

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Vivian replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 10:53 AM

Check out your angle of attack. If you are right above the ruler pressing down, slippage is lessened and you don't really have to push as hard as you think.   If you are "pushing" the ruler down from an angle, it almost guarantees slippage. 

Does this make sense?

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Lynne replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 11:52 AM

Yes, it does make sense to me.  I will check out my angle of attack.  I will give it a shot  night when I get home.

Thank you again.

 

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Marija replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 5:00 PM

Hi Lynne,

you got some good advice already, but I didn't see this one:

-if you have trouble cutting your fabric when it is folded just ONCE (meaning, you matched the selvages), try folding fabric TWICE. Yes, that may sound scary or as if will produce even more uneven strips - but it won't if you do it properly. I teach beginners all the time and they all cut very straight strips by doing it this way! So, match you selvages carefully and make sure fabric lays down straight. Then fold one more time, by putting the first fold to the selvages (again, all aligned precisely). Now you need to "square-up the fabric - by doing exactly what you described - place the ruler on the fabric, align one horizontal line of the ruler with that second fold (ALL the way - using a wider ruler, like a 12" square, helps in precision here!) and cut on the LEFT side to even all layers of fabric. Now you can slide the ruler off the fabric (to the left), place the line of your size (lets say 2" line, for 2" wide strip) on that edge of fabric - HOWEVER! ONE REALLY IMPORTANT THING! - also keep the horizontal line of the ruler still aligned with that fold of the fabric!! - that is what ensures that your strips are straight! Of course if two lines can not be aligned, that means your fabric is not squared up correctly and that happens when ruler slips a little. So then you go back and re-square the fabric!As for ruler slippage, another thing you can try is Invisigrip (a clear foil that clings to the back of the ruler). I use Creative Grids rulers too now and don't use Invisigrip any more...

OK, this may sound clear as mud? Here is a picture I have in my instructions for beginners...Let me know if this makes sense? Marija

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Lynne replied on Thu, Mar 10 2011 6:51 PM

Hi Marija:

I was afraid to fold the fabric twice  for the fear of uneven strips.  I will give that a shot.  I do have a 12" square ruler.  Will try this in a little while.  My table is all set up.  I went to a few  notions store at lunch time near my office looking for the spray, but no one had it because these store cater more towards the garment industry.

I checked on line before and saw the Creative Grids rulers.  There is a quilting store about 12 blocks from my office and I think that they carry the Creative Grids.  Will give them a shot tomorrow if this doesn't work out.  Will keep you posted.  Again, thank you for your imput.

 

Lynne

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Marija replied on Fri, Mar 11 2011 3:07 PM

Oh I hope it works for you!

I KNOW it will work, it is just that I am used to teaching "live" and being there to explain, show, check on my students "live"...:) This, words-only, cyber demo is hard, LOL

The bottom line is - if you square-up your fabric well and always have BOTH lines properly aligned (horizontal on the fold, vertical in the edge of fabric - see that picture!), it really should work! Of course ruler slippage is always a factor and it happens every now and then, but it will be less and less as you practice more (and use some of the "aids" for ruler slippage).

Also, with double-folded fabric and using a shorter ruler (like 6x12 one) you really have more control over your hand that holds the ruler, so that should help too. With once folded fabric and a long ruler usually things happen towards the top of the ruler (end of your cut) - that is at least my experience with all my students.

Good luck and happy stitching! (after all that cutting, :)  )

 

Marija

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Vivian replied on Fri, Mar 11 2011 3:51 PM

Just what i wanted to say but the diagrams are awsome!!.  I was told to do that during my introductory quilting/learn to use the rotary cutter class and it was intimidating at first.  the short cut lessens the probablity of slippage as well.  the longer the length of cut with the repositioning of the ruler holding hand leads to all kinds of things you have already found out about.

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Thank you Lynne for the description but the pictures helped the most.  I feel like a dummy when I read something and can't catch on.  I guess I need to be shown and your drawings are great!  I've been shown that method before but a while ago and needed a reminder.  Thank you again!

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ricecjr replied on Sun, May 6 2012 4:42 PM

Hi Donna,

I've read this many times and I must be missing something.  Your method and the b ook methos are the same.  On each you place the ruler to the left of the end of your fabrics.  Am I not understanding? 

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