Ten tips for cutting fabric quickly

May 14, 2013

With the weather warming up and schools being let out for summer, before you know it you’ll find yourself digging in the dirt and lounging on the beach! This means your quilting time will have to be very efficient in the next few weeks so that you can accomplish your “to do’s” without creating more “UFO’s”! Use these tips to whip out your quilts in nothing flat!

Duct tape to the rescue

If you are cutting pieces of fabric that are longer than your cutting mat, borrow a mat from a friend and tape it to yours. Lay both mats face down and slide the edges together until they meet evenly. Join them together with a strip of duct tape and then turn the mats over and cut the long strips without having to shift your fabric.

Tape your rulers

Even if the measurement you need for your cutting strips is on your ruler, it can be helpful to place a piece of masking tape on the underside of the ruler at whichever line you are using. The edge becomes an important visual guide that keeps you on target and speeds up your cutting.

Stagger your strips

After cutting strips to the correct width, you can make additional sub-cuts by staggering each strip across your cutting mat with one long edge aligned with the long marks on your mat.Place the next strip next to the next long mark, overlapping your first strip. Keep the long fabric edges even with the mat markings. Place your ruler across all the strips, and then make your sub-cuts all at once.

Spin your mat

Limited studio space leaves little room for cutting. If you have lots of cutting to do, move to your kitchen or dining room table. When you have to sub-cut your fabric, position it on the mat and make your first cut. But instead of shifting the fabric and risking misaligning its edges, spin your cutting mat to make the sub-cuts easier to do.

Let your tool do the work

Many quilters mistakenly keep their blade guard nut so tight that the cutter “slices” the fabric like a knife. However, the rotary cutting blade should actually rotate like a pizza cutting wheel. Loosen the nut holding your blade in place so that the blade spins as you slide it along the ruler.

Give your cutter a tune-up

It doesn’t take much lintbuild-up between your cutting blade and the guard to impact your cutter’s performance. Carefully remove the cutting blade and wipe it clean. Put a single drop of clear sewing machine oil on the blade guard,then reinsert the blade. Wipe up excess.

Sharpen your scissors

Blades that chew up your fabric or don’t cut near the tip are frustrating. Invest in a quality pair of scissors and make sure you only use it for fabric, not for paper or other materials.

Mate fabrics for sewing

If you will be sewing two different fabrics together from the same cut unit, place the fabrics right sides together and press them together. Then cut your strips from both fabrics at the same time. They will already be in place for piecing.

Cut triangles from squares

Determine whether your squares will need one diagonal cut or two. For extra stability, use a cutting ruler that will completely cover the square’s tip when you cut the diagonal. This helps to stop the cutting blade from pushing the fabric and stretching the bias.

Mark your mat

If you are using reference lines on your cutting mat, but you can’t see the line markings or reference numbers along all four edges, place a length of masking tape along the unmarked edges, then add your reference numbers so that you can see what each line represents in inches without sliding your fabric or moving your ruler.