|8 points coming together nicely|
|A bit off--one of the points is "hidden"|
|3" block, pretty precise|
|One more set of 3" blocks|
I am hoping you are after precise piecing, intersections that intersect, points that are sharp. Now, having said this, you should know that I describe myself as a "95% quilter"--close is good enough most of the time. If you are planning to enter international competition, that is NOT good enough. If you are making quilts for people you love, it is fine AND you get to decide how precise it has to be. I started 30 years ago as a "50% quilter" and was happy with that. You will get better the more quilts you make.
One more DISCLAIMER: I am not the quilt police and there is more than one way to complete any task. I will show you what works for me and what has worked very well for the more than 1000 beginning quiltmaking students I have taught over the years. If you have a different method that works well for you, I am happy for you and encourage you to keep at it. That is why there is chocolate AND vanilla--you get to choose. If you want some tips on how to improve, keep reading...
It starts with the cutting and that is where beginners seem to have trouble. Rotary cutting changed EVERYTHING in quilting and is one of the primary reasons our industry has grown so much in the last 40 years. Blades are sharp, rulers are abundant, and you need to learn how to use them. My shots are for right-handed people. Left-handed people can make great quilts--they just do everything upside down and backwards.
I prefer to cut only two layers at a time and use a 45 mm blade for this. (Olfa is my favorite brand for their sharp blades and ease of use.) When I cut four layers, I use a 60 mm blade--not often but occasionally. My favorite rulers are Creative Grids and Omnigrip--my students get instantly better when they switch to these--the built-in grippers on the underside of the rulers minimize slipping.
You want the edge of the fabric to split the measuring line in half--it is hard to see as this line is black and the fabric is deep purple. So let's try another fabric and ruler:
The yellow fabric splits the black line exactly in half. If you can see the green mat to the right of the black line, it is too narrow. If you can see the yellow fabric to the left of the black line, it is too wide. You have to place the ruler somewhere, you might as well place it exactly where it needs to go.
Back to my purple binding strips:
That is the basics of cutting long strips from the Width of Fabric (WOF). If you are using fat quarters, you can fold them in half to cut 22" strips crosswise grain or 18" strips lengthwise grain. That is a whole other topic for another time. If you only have to cut 1 strip, just place the long ruler at the line for the width you need to cut, no sliding necessary. The sliding method works well when the numbers are easy to calculate, like 2", 4" ,6", etc., or my 2.5", 5", 7.5". Once you get into numbers like 2.375" it becomes more difficult and is just as easy to simply cut one strip at a time,
Here is how I cut fabric pieces for a block:
|The block has been rotated 180 degrees so I can clean up the other two edges|
Now to be honest, this little block I am making actually needs four 2" squares and each will have a pencil line drawn on the diagonal. I learned this neat-o trick about a year ago and pass it on to you: Cut one 4" square, draw two pencil lines on both diagonals and then carefully sub-cut the square in half on both directions:
If you were to cut four separate 2" squares and then draw the pencil lines, you would need to draw two lines going vertically and two horizontally to the stripes if you wanted those lines to be lined up like I do. By cutting the four squares at once, with the pencil lines drawn, you get this already done, no thinking necessary.
ONE MORE THING: how to change your blade.
I am often asked by students how often to change their blade. My answer is simple; No one has ever changed a blade and then said "I could have gotten two more weeks out of that old blade". You change it when you get tired of the blade sticking and not cutting all the way through your fabric every time. A new blade makes you feel so good!
And here is how my brand gets changed correctly, yours may be different:
If you are still here, thanks for staying with me and if you find this helpful, please share it all over the world. Part 2 will be coming up on the next problem area: The Sewing.