The question that I am asked most frequently, especially from my knitter friends, is "where do I begin to make a quilt." So I've put together a little tutorial of the steps I take and the tools I use to begin the process.
1. Wash all quilting fabric in cold water and a small amount of laundry detergent (about 1/2 of what you would use to wash dirty laundry). Washing removes the sizing and printing chemicals in the fabric and allows the fabric to shrink to it's final size.
2. Press the fabric once it comes out of the dryer.
3. Fold fabric in half, selvage to selvage. The above photo shows a half yard of fabric folded in half selvage to selvage.
Then bring bottom folded edge up to selvage (top) and fold in half again. The fabric is now 4 layers thick and ready for cutting.
4. Lay the bottom edge of the folded fabric flush against a horizontal line on the self healing cutting mat.
Note about Materials: Purchase the best quality materials you can afford. You only need a few basics so spend your money on those. Save by not buying all the quilting "gadgets" that claim to make everything easier but only end up collecting dust. A good cutting mat and rulers last forever - all of the materials I am using were purchased eight years ago and are in wonderful condition after much use.
You will need:
a good quality self healing cutting mat - 24" x 36" is best
2 acrylic cutting rulers. At least one should be 6 1/2" x 24". The smaller ruler pictured above is 5" x 18" and has a black plastic lip "gadget" on the bottom edge that is supposed to make cutting fabric easier but it makes such a mess of the folded edge that I only use this ruler for measuring (see below) and never for cutting. See what I mean about buying "gadgets" - I bought this ruler eight years ago when I didn't know better.
I have these sandpaper dot stickers on the back of my cutting ruler. They help keep the ruler from slipping while I cut and have held up amazingly well after all these years. I think they're from lowe's.
Back to cutting the fabric.
5. Trim the right side edge to get a straight clean edge before beginning to cut. In step 4 you lay the fabric flush along a horizontal line on the cutting mat. Now place ruler close to the right side edge of the fabric - you do not want to trim off any more than you have to. Place bottom edge of folded fabric flush with any horizontal line on the acrylic ruler - this assures a perfectly straight cut - and trim.
Now there's a straight edge on the right hand side of the fabric. I will begin cutting the fabric into 3" strips.
6. Use 2 rulers - right one placed horizontally for measuring and left ruler placed vertically for cutting - to cut fabric into strips. Note how the bottom edge of the ruler on the right and the horizontal line of the cutting ruler on the left line up with the bottom edge of the fabric. Position the measuring ruler first and then butt the cutting ruler up against it - making sure that the bottom edge of the fabric is even with a horizontal line on the cutting ruler (left).
7. Place your left hand on the cutting ruler like so, slide the measuring ruler out of the way, and cut.
One 3" strip cut selvage to selvage.
Repeat for desired number of strips.
8. Unfold strips and press. These are ready for sewing.
To cut squares, use the same 2 ruler cutting method to cut the strips into squares.
I mainly use squares to piece triangles. Triangle tutorial here.
And I use strips to piece squares. The nine patch quilt below was made out of 3" strips.
I am making another nine patch quilt and I will show you how easy it is to make nine patches out of strips.
I will leave you with a little "mama lesson" that I learned today. Remember when I posted that I cut a whole bunch of our daffodils to bring inside? Well a certain five year old happened to be paying close attention to what mama does when new flowers come up.
And here is the result.
I have learned to be mindful of the actions that I model for my kiddos and my girlie told me she picked them for me, because "I love you, mama" - now what mama could be upset about that!