Monday, December 28, 2009

Cutting The Squares

You have your fabric right? Yes? Ok, here we go! 

If you have charm packs, skip this part, you're all set. We'll see you next week ;)

For this step you'll need your fabric, iron, rotary cutter, self healing mat and ruler. If you want to pre-wash your fabric go ahead and do that now. If you're unsure about pre-washing check out the discussion thread here. Feel free to ask your own questions if you're still undecided.

I am going to be as explicit as possible in giving these instructions so that our beginners don't get overwhelmed. Experienced people just bear with us! Also remember that the way I am going to show is the way that works best for me. If you know a way that works better for you, please feel free to do it your way.

I will separate this post into sections to cause the least amount of confusion. One section will be for 1/2 yard (or larger) cuts, one for fat quarters and one for those of you not using a self healing mat and rotary cutter. Just skip to the part that pertains to you.

First things first...

First iron all your fabric. It needs to be nice and smooth and free of bumps and wrinkles to help make sure your cuts are nice and straight.

Put the fabric that you will use for the binding aside. We'll get to that later in the quilt along and you definitely don't want to confuse it and accidentally cut it into squares!

1/2 yard cuts or larger

Take your first cut of fabric and lay it right side down

Fold your fabric from selvage to selvage, lining the selvages up as best you can. The selvage is the printed end of the fabric, or (if yours isn't printed) it's the part that is pre-cut from the manufacturer.

Fold it one more time, lining that up with the selvages as well.

Rotating your fabric, line the folded side of the fabric up with a horizontal line on your self healing mat. The cut edges will be on the left and right.

When you line it up on the horizontal line, have the edge of the fabric just a tad to the right of a vertical line, as pictured.

Grab your ruler. Line it up on the fabric like pictured. See how the horizontal line of the ruler is on the folded edge of the fabric and the edge is lined up with that vertical line? If you have a ruler with a lip edge, use that to line it with the vertical line.

Cut that edge off.

Measure 5 inches and make a cut. Since your fabric is lined up with a vertical line, the mat will measure it for you!

Repeat this process two more times. You will end up with 3 cuts of fabric measuring 5"x44" (or the length of your fabric) and one scrap piece approximately 3-4 inches wide.

Open up one of your newly cut strips. Line it up on your mat to where the selvage lines up vertically and the cut edge lines up horizontally. You're going to cut the selvage off so make sure you line it up just to the right of a vertical line like you did before.

Cut off the selvage.

Again, measure 5 inches and cut.

 Repeat this process until your whole strip is cut into 5 inch squares. You will have to move your strip and re-align it. Then repeat with the other strips.

You should end up with a nice stack of squares

And some scraps that look something like this

Don't throw them away! You can get creative with them later ;)

Repeat all the steps with your other fabrics.

There are a couple of shortcuts you can take to cut the strips faster, like lining them up in rows on your mat...

...or stacking them on top of each other.

If you feel confidant enough to try to cut them at the same time, be my guest. Just be careful because if you don't you can end up with squares that have uneven edges or don't get cut to the right size. If you're a beginner I suggest just taking them one at a time. You have a whole week to cut your fabric, why rush? :)

Fat Quarters

Take your first cut of fabric and lay it right side down

Fold it in half, lining up the edges. It doesn't matter if you fold it on the longer or shorter edge, the results will be the same.

Rotate your fabric so that your folded edge is horizontal. Line that folded edge up with a horizontal line on your mat. When lining it up on the horizontal, leave the right edge of the fabric just a tad to the right of a vertical line. There may be a selvage on the right edge. If there is, line that up to the right of the vertical line. You are going to cut the edge to get it nice and straight.


Grab your ruler and line it up on the fabric as pictured below. Notice how the horizontal line on the ruler lines up with the folded edge of the fabric and the edge of the ruler lines up with the vertical line on the mat. If you have a ruler with a lip edge, use that lip to line the ruler up with the vertical line. 

Cut the edge off. 

Now measure over 5 inches from the newly cut edge of your fabric and make another cut. Since the fabric is lined up on that vertical line the mat will do all the measuring for you!

Repeat until you can't cut any more 5 inch widths of fabric. How many times you cut will depend on which side you folded it on. You will end up with either 3 or 4 5 inch strips.

Open up one of your strips of fabric and lay it on the mat. Mine was nice and straight because I had to cut a 1/2 yard into a fat quarter to do this tutorial. You may have to line it up just to the right of the vertical line and cut it like you did above to get the straight edge.. 

Now measure 5 inches and make a cut. Repeat this process until the whole strip is cut into 5 inch squares. You may have to move your fabric over and re-align it during this process. 

Repeat for the other strips, then repeat the whole process for your remaining fabrics. You'll end up with a nice stack of 5 inch squares and some scraps. Don't throw away your scraps! You can get creative with them later ;) 

Using an easy square

If you have a 5 inch square, you can use your fabric marking pen to trace around it onto the fabric, then cut the squares out using your fabric scissors.

Or you can use your mat and rotary cutter and follow these directions:

Lay your fabric flat on your mat, right side up. 

If you have a 5 inch square, then put it on the edge of your fabric. You may need to cut the edges of your fabric first to make them nice and straight. Then just cut around the square.

My square is obviously 6 1/2 inches, just pretend it's 5 inches, ok? Ok :)

If you have a larger square, you will need to line the 5 inch mark of the square up with the edges of the fabric, then cut the fabric on the other two sides. 

Repeat this process until all of your fabrics are cut into 5 inch squares. 


No rotary cutter and self healing mat? 

The cutting process will be a long one for you.  My suggestion is to get a paper grocery sack and, using a ruler and pencil, measure and cut out a 5 inch square. Pin that square to the edge of one of your fabrics and use it as a pattern to cut the square from your fabric. Repeat this process until all of your fabrics have been cut into squares. Or, get a self healing mat and rotary cutter :)

You have one week.... 

We will move onto the sewing portion next week, so get cutting! If you have any questions the discussion group is located here.

By the way, did you notice my spiffy new self healing mat and ruler? Thanks Mom!!  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to the Quilt Along!

Bree and I are so excited to be kicking off our new blog with our very first quilt-along! It was a quilt-along that got me interested in trying my hand at quilting. I had tons of fun and the person leading the way made it all look so easy. Now it seems that quilting is all I ever want to do! I hope you have tons of fun quilting along with us! And who knows? Maybe you'll find a love of quilting that you never knew you had :)

I am going to kick this off with a few rules *ahem*, I mean guidelines.

Number 1. Whatever you do, don't panic! If at any point of the quilt-along you are frustrated or just don't know what to do, just ask! Discussion group is located here:

Number 2. The biggest lesson I learned from the quilt-along I joined was Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. And what a lesson it was! It's very hard for me to overlook a not so straight line, or a corner that doesn't match up perfect. But in the end, it wasn't worth it to get worked up over. And those not so perfect corners and not so straight lines add to the charm, so Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!!

Number 3. The most important rule of all.....Have Fun!!!! This is meant to be fun and exciting and a learning experience. There is no reason to get worked up over anything, just chalk it all up to experience and go with the flow. The end result will be something you didn't think you would ever be able to do, right? Just remember, you can doooo it!!

Ok, on to the list of materials and fabric requirements.

The quilt that we decided to begin with is called a Disappearing 9 Patch. It is easy, it is beautiful and it looks like it takes a ton of work, but it doesn't. That's the beauty of it! They are fun to make and fun to look at and they are all straight lines! Here are some examples of a Disappearing 9 patch. I snagged these pics from Obsessively Stitching. Check her out, she does some awesome stuff!

I will be making a crib/throw sized quilt but will list the fabric requirements for larger sizes as well for those of you feeling adventurous. If at any point you need help figuring out your math, just ask. There is no question too big or too small.

The quilt is going to be made up of 5" squares. I will tell you how many squares you can get out of a certain cut of fabric and also how many squares it will take to make various quilt sizes. With this pattern it is best to use
at least 9 different types of fabrics. If you need help coordinating fabrics I have links to many places where you can buy them in the same line and they all coordinate very nicely.

1-fat quarter will yield 12 squares
1-1/2 yard cut of fabric yields 24 squares

1-3/4 yard cut of fabric yields 40 squares
1-1 yard cut of fabric yields 56 squares

Now here is where your handy math skills come in. I hope everybody paid attention in school!! I will list the size of the quilt and next to it will be how many individual squares you will need for the quilt. After that will be how many blocks are going to make up that quilt. Each block will be made of 9 squares. So, if you use 9 different fabrics, you will need 1 square of each fabric to make up one block. Still with me?

crib/throw (approx. 40"x52")-108 squares-12 blocks
larger throw (approx. 52"x65")-180 squares-20 blocks
twin/single (approx. 65"x92")-315 squares-35 blocks
full/double (approx 78'x92')-378 squares-42 blocks
queen size (approx. 92"x104')-504 squares-56 blocks

Example: A crib/throw is made up of 12 blocks or 108 individual squares. By using 9 different fabrics I will need to purchase 9 different fat quarters because I need 12 individual squares of each fabric to make up my 12 blocks and a fat quarter yields 12 squares. I realize some of this is hard to picture, so just trust me. And ask questions if you need help figuring out how much fabric you need.

Now, here is where I might make your life
REALLY easy. You may not have heard of these little things called charm packs. Charm packs are packs of 5" precut squares of fabrics that all come from a coordinating line. You can buy them everywhere. If you are the type who has trouble coordinating fabrics, or might just want to skip the cutting part, then charm packs might be right for you. The only problem with charm packs is that they don't have a lot of duplicates, so all of your blocks will not be exactly the same, which is ok! The more different types of fabrics you use, the scrappier it looks and it looks like you put even MORE work into it!

You will also need fabric for binding and the backing and also some batting. The amount of these that you will need will also depend on the size of your quilt. If you're making a crib/throw then 1/2 yard for the binding should be enough, anything bigger and I suggest getting a full yard. We will discuss the backing and batting later once we know what our final quilt sizes will be.

Last but not least, the other materials and supplies that you'll need!

A sewing machine (feel free to piece by hand if you're feeling adventurous though)

Recommended feet for the sewing machine are 1/4" quilting foot, and a walking foot or darning foot for the quilting part of the quilt-along. You can use the normal basic foot on the machine though, no worries!

A rotary cutter and self healing mat (optional but very highly recommended) You may want to make sure you have an extra blade. Nothing like running to the store in the middle of a project! You will also need some type of ruler or at least a measuring tape. We will be cutting 2 1/2" strips when we get to the binding, you'll need to be able to measure those out. Also, when choosing a ruler, try to find one with grip on it. Mine has no grip and it slips a lot. Drives me crazy!! I really need to get a new one. (Note, even if you purchase the charm packs, there is still some cutting involved, so you will still need these items).

A pair of good fabric cutting scissors. If you don't have some, buy some. You'll thank me later. And see those little orange handled ones? Those are my snips, I love love love my snips. Very handy little buggers to have around.

Straight pins and pin cushion-I personally have 2 pin cushions. I like to have one on my ironing board and one by my sewing machine so I don't have to carry them around. I do not recommend pins with ball heads on them. They get in the way. Look for the ones meant for quilting.

Coordinating thread-Don't go cheap! I use Coates and Clark for the most part. Gutermann and Mettler are both considered higher end and are both very good thread. you'll want at least a couple of spools just for the sewing. We'll discuss thread again when it's time to quilt.

Iron and ironing board. Starch is nice to have around too.

Optional but not necessary. You may want one of these if you don't purchase a rotary cutter and self healing mat. A fabric marking pen.

Also optional but not necessary, a square ruler in the 5" size. Again, if you don't plan on buying a rotary cutter and mat, this may make cutting easier. Another option though is to make your own pattern out of a paper grocery sack or a piece of cardboard.

Editing to add this, a seam ripper. If you didn't get one with your sewing machine, invest in one. Seriously. My seam ripper is my best friend.

That is everything you need to get started. Start looking for your fabrics and gather your supplies. We'll get started right after Christmas!!

Go to the discussion group to ask any questions and post some pics of your fabric when you get it, I love looking at fabric!