Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Part 5. Let's get cutting! How to quilt from the very beginning

It's time!!!  This post is going to be about actual cutting the fabric for very own table runner.  But, before we get started I want you to refresh your memory by glancing back through the previous posts in this series...especially How to cut your fabric so you don't lose a finger Ummm...yeah.  Seriously.  Go look at it.  Please.  You think you know how to cut your fabric...maybe you do.  Just humor me.

Okay, now that you've refreshed yourself on the rules, let's get busy!

There are two ways....basically....to quilt.  I use a little bit of both methods.

1.  Cut out ALL of your fabric first and then sew it all together.  This way is good if you're in a hurry and want to get your project done ASAP.  If I am using one fabric over and over and over again, I will cut a bunch of that particular fabric and have it ready to go.  For example, in our table runner, I will cut out plenty of my main fabric as well as the white strips....they get used a lot!

2.  Cut as you go.  I like to be in the moment when I sew and sometimes that means changing fabric mid-project.  I like to feel how things are progressing and be able to fiddle with things if I want.  And I don't want to feel like I've wasted fabric. I hate to cut fabric and not use it.  So, I will use the cut as you go method for all the miscellaneous blocks in the table runner.  This doesn't mean cutting out chunks from your length of fabric and only cutting one square at a time, that would be silly and would end up wasting fabric.  What I do is I cut my 5" strip along the entire width of the fabric and then chop that into the 5" x 5" pieces.  So, really I have a few squares of each of my fabrics ready to go...but I haven't cut it all out.

Let's get cutting! 

Take your white fabric and cut a strip 5" across the width of the fabric.  Now take that long strip of 5" fabric, turn it horizontally and cut it into 1" strips.  Now you'll have several 5" x 1" strips of white fabric.  Set these aside.

Do the same thing with your 5" x 5" squares.  Make sure to cut a bunch of your main fabric and then a selection of all your others.  This way you can play with your fabric arrangement until your find something you love.  My arrangement is in a checkerboard pattern.  Row 1: Main Fabric, Misc Fabric. Main Fabric.  Row 2: Misc. Fabric.  Main Fabric.  Misc. Fabric...repeat.

The last thing we're going to do in this post is prep your blocks for sewing.  I want you to look at the above picture, this is a few steps from here, but you are going to sew the white strips to the right side of each 5" x 5" block only.  The exception to this is your first block which is going to have a white strip on the left and right sides.  You don't need to sew a white strip to both sides of each block because you are sewing the blocks together so there will be a white strip between them.

It's easy to prep.  Take your 5" x 5" square and take a white strip and put them together, right sides together and pin top and bottom.  The phrase "right sides together" is going to be something you hear an awful lot of...

..and this is why.  The "right side" is the pretty part of the fabric that you want to look at.  By putting right side to right side, this means the seam or the line where two pieces of fabric are held together with stitches is on the back side of your fabric...the part you don't want to see because it's ugly.  You wouldn't want this to be on the front of your quilt.

how to quilt

Plan out a few rows and lay out your prepped pieces, like this...ready to sew!! 

* Remember, my table runner has 3 squares per row, so this means I need 4: 1" x 5" white strips of fabric for every row and 3: 5" x 5" squares.  If your table runner is a different size, you must plan accordingly.  The first square in the row has a white strip on the left and right sides, all others just have one white strip, on the right side. 

*Remember, put your fabric right sides together.  It doesn't make a difference which side you use with a solid as both sides are the right side, but pay attention to your patterned pieces, otherwise the seam ripper will be making an appearance. 

* Remember, you will make a mistake and sew on the wrong side of the fabric a few times.  This is okay. Just grab your seam ripper and you can make it all better.

* Remember, you will cut your fabric to the wrong size at some point.  Don't let it get you down, just remember to measure twice and cut once!

Can't wait for next time!!!

Other posts in the series:
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Measuring and What Kind of Fabric to Buy
Part 3: How to Pick your Fabric
Part 4: The rules of cutting...aka no bleeding
Part 6: How to Pin Properly
Part 7: Let's Press
Part 8: Leaders and Enders

Thanks for reading!



  1. This is the part that gets me the pinning but it's coming together so nice :)

  2. Great directions!! I have always wanted to learn to quilt, but haven't actually taken the plunge. Seeing your table runner gives me a good idea of where to start.

  3. Heather...I so love that you are doing this! I have got to get to town and get my fabric! I love that your instructions will be waiting for me when I'm ready!!

  4. Wow! This is amazing and such a great tutorial. I am going to pin this for my bucket list. Cheers from your newest follower!


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