Quilting Basics ~ Preparing & Cutting

on April 1 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 309 Comments

Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studios has a brilliant series of Quilting Basics tips scheduled to post throughout Quilting Month II! Jacquie is a Sew,Mama,Sew! Board Member, a member of the Modern Quilt Guild and an all-around extraordinary quilter. Today Jacquie kicks off our month-long celebration of all things quilting with part one of her Quilting Basics series. Today’s focus: Preparing and cutting your fabric. Enjoy!

Seeing some of the beautiful quilts that are posted on Sew,Mama,Sew! and across quilting blogs can make quilting seem intimidating. Quilting is easier and more fun if you know some of the tips and tricks that experienced quilters use everyday. I’d like to share a few things that work for me. Please remember that these are not must-haves, or must-dos. Once you give it a try you’ll find what works best for you.

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Preparing Your Fabric
Preparation can be one of the keys to successful quilting. You have that shiny new fabric and want to make a quilt. So what’s next? There are two camps in the quilting community, pre-washers and those ‘I don’t prewash’ folks. There are advantages to both. Pre-washing removes chemicals from fabric and allows for shrinkage to happen before your quilt is made. Some fabrics shrink at different rates and your quilt can sometimes change size dramatically if you haven’t pre-washed. Special care needs to be taken with vintage fabrics. I always pre-wash or at least test vintage fabrics for bleeding. It’s heartbreaking to have a quilt ruined by bleeding colors. If you wash your fabric try not to use detergent. Detergents tend to strip color from cotton fabric. Dreft or baby shampoos are good choices for pre-washing.

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On the other hand, some quilters prefer working with and cutting fabric that has the sizing in it which gives it a bit more body for handling and cutting. Some quilters also love the crinkly look created after washing and drying a quilt with fabric that has never been washed. I aspire to be a pre-wash girl, but I do enough laundry at my house, so I admit I usually don’t. I do use Shout Color Catchers as a precaution against the possibility of bleeding, especially with dark fabrics. Color Catchers can be found in larger grocery stores and so far they have worked for me.

Whether you pre-wash or not, it is important to iron your fabric before you start cutting. Wrinkly fabric leads to crooked and inaccurate cuts and that’s never good.

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Rotary cutting can be fast, easy, and accurate. You’ll need a rotary cutter, a 24” see through ruler and a self-healing cutting mat. The 24” x 36” mat size is perfect for quilting. Make sure you keep a sharp blade in your cutter. Dull blades make for jagged cuts and can be unsafe if you have to press too hard to make your cuts. I use an Olfa ergonomic rotary cutter. Get in the habit of closing the blade of your cutter when it’s not in use. Safety first. Don’t learn from experience like I did.

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Fabric right off a bolt probably has uneven edges or may be folded off center. The first step in rotary cutting is to square up the fabric edge. With freshly ironed fabric, lay your fabric on your self-healing cutting mat. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Line up the two selvages and adjust the edges until the fold hangs evenly or lays flat without wrinkles. This will make sure the grain of the fabric is straight and you will get nice straight width of fabric cuts.

You may want to fold your fabric again lengthwise bringing the folded edge down to line up with the selvage edge. This will give you a shorter cutting length (you’ll have 4 layers) and you won’t need to reposition your hand when you cut.

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I’m right handed. If you’re left handed, adjust accordingly.

To start cutting, make sure the folded edge lines up with a horizontal line on your cutting mat. Then place your ruler along a vertical line on the mat for a straight cut. If you are right handed the bulk of the fabric will be on your right. The opposite applies if you are left-handed. The first cut you make will be to trim off the raw edge and square up the fabric. Cut off just enough fabric to make a straight edge.

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Now you’re ready to cut your strips. I’m cutting 2” strips so I line up the edge of the fabric with the 2” mark on my ruler. Make sure the 2” mark lines up all the way down the edge of the fabric, not just at one place. Check that measurement. Measure twice, cut once!

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Place your left hand on the ruler, spreading your fingers for stability. Always cut away from yourself. Be safe. Rotary cutters are sharp. Cut along the right edge of the ruler and keep the blade flush against the ruler. Never cut beyond your hand position. Stop cutting, reposition your hand up the ruler and continue cutting.

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I always open up my first strip and check that it is straight and even. If not I adjust the fabric and square it up again. It’s better to check at the beginning than cut a bunch of crooked strips.

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After your strips are cut you can line them up on the horizontal lines of your mat and use your ruler to sub cut them into the shapes and sizes that you need for your quilt.

Happy and Safe Cutting!

Next time:
The quarter inch seam, piecing and pressing.

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309 Responses to Quilting Basics ~ Preparing & Cutting

  1. Marianne says:

    I’m just about to start my first quilt after making a few doll quilts so I could practice but this tutorial is just what I need.

  2. Dulcie says:

    thank you for explaining cutting; I have consulted so many of my peer who quilt and was still not clear on cutting.

  3. Thanks for the tips!!

  4. Shannon says:

    this series is gonna be SO helpful! I can’t wait to get started.

  5. Oooh! This is just what I’ve been looking for! I’ve been wanting to start quilting but have no idea where to start. Thanks!

  6. Kristin D. says:

    I think I have been cutting backwards all along…so thank you! Also, I aspire to be in the “non pre-wash” group, I hate waiting to prewash!

  7. Jacqui says:

    I really need to get an inch quilting ruler – at the moment I’m using an inch mat and a cm ruler! Do-able (and sometimes very handy) but I can see from the photos that using the inch one for quilting would make it easier when trying to stick to inches, which I’m not very good at being a metric gal!

  8. Leah says:

    Yes, uhm, pre-washing doesn’t happen much at my house either, but luckily, as you said, I like the wrinkled finished look when I wash it. And, even that evens out over time.

  9. Megan Presley says:

    Thanks for the tips! They are very helpful for us newbie quilters!

  10. SofiAlgarvia says:

    Thank you for your great tips!

  11. What an awesome tute! I am a dreadful cutter, but I’m pretty good at following good instructions, so I’m hoping that my next cutting adventure will work out better for me. Thank you for the thorough tips! I’ve done one quilt, a jelly roll, and I’d love to quilt more so I’m super psyched for Quilt Month here!!

  12. Tara says:

    Very wise advice on cutting. It all helps to avoid waste and mistakes. 😉

  13. Kelli says:

    Great beginner tips. Cutting is still the part of quilting I hate the most, but getting a rotary cutter, good ruler and a big mat made it a lot better!

  14. Beth says:

    it is so good to repeat this advice! i love learning new little things as i read how someone else does something.

  15. Michele says:

    My cutting mat is the best sewing tool I ever invested in!

  16. Nezabudkina says:

    Great tips! Thank you! 🙂 can’t wait for the rest of the month’s articles!

  17. I heed the voice of experience when using my rotary cutter 🙂 Now if only I could find the new blades for it….

  18. tammie says:

    just bought a 24×36 cutting mat and it is so much better than the smaller one i had… great tip!

  19. Tina L. says:

    I have an unfinished quilt stored away somewhere and this may be just the thing to get me going again.

  20. alison says:

    Wow fantastic tips! Thanks so much.

  21. Katrina H says:

    Those color catchers are a great tip for prewashing!

  22. Tonya says:

    I hope to follow this along all the way through! I’ve not yet quilted but I aspire to 🙂

  23. Tegan says:

    Very helpful, thanks! Any suggestions for a rotary cutter that skips? I’ve tried changing the blade, adjusting the tension on the screw, and adding more pressure as I cut, but I can never get my cuts to look anywhere as neat as yours, since I have to go over them so many times. I rarely ever try to cut through more than one layer of fabric since it’s so much work just to cut through a single layer. Ideas?

  24. I can’t wait to see what comes up in quilting month! So far I’ve made one big quilt and three baby quilts, I’m looking forward to learning more techniques!

  25. Terri Moran says:

    I’m so excited that the basics will be taught here! I can’t wait to learn step-by-step.

  26. Wendy D. P. says:

    Oooh I can already tell… I’m going to love this month!

  27. Lori Krause says:

    I love quilting but I can’t seem to get the binding just right when I have to join the ends on the quilt. I need some pointers. Lots of good tips and information! Thanks!

  28. Chloe says:

    Ahh, I’d never thought of using anything other than detergent to wash fabric in, great tip!

  29. Ann says:

    I’m not a knitter yet. This is something I want to learn when everyone goes to school so I’m reading and taking lots of notes! Great instructions- you make it look easy.

  30. Kirsten says:

    After about 10 years away from quilting (and a UFO quilt in the cupboard), I’m glad to read these tips and refresh my memory.
    Thanks 🙂

  31. Dorie says:

    Great information! I always prewash, because I am allergic to the chemicals fabric is treated with.

  32. Tammy says:

    I didn’t know about not cutting beyond your hand! Thanks for the tip.

  33. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the great tips!

  34. tonya allen says:

    thanks for the great tips. i’m fairly new to quilting and am really looking forward to this whole month of info here!

  35. Andrea says:

    Love the folding idea! Thanks!

  36. Debbie says:

    I’ve made a quilt for each daughter this year–now it’s my turn, and I welcome being reminded of the basics.

  37. Linda says:

    If you aren’t a new quilter, it is still great to review the basics. Thanks!

  38. Katie says:

    Fantastic tips and oh so important to get it right at the very beginning of the quilt process. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  39. tscd says:

    Thanks for this post!

  40. Joy says:

    Thanks for the helpful tutorial! Looking forward to your next installment.

  41. Michele says:

    Oh! This is nice, I’ve been wanting to take up quilting but haven’t managed to get around to it. I’m definitely bookmarking this.
    (My sister bought some of the rulers and a rotary cutter for sewing and my father called us geeks when we were discussing how cool they were…)

  42. Andrea says:

    didn’t know about the detergent part. I guess that’s useful when preparing fabric for any kind of project. thanks for the clear instructions.

  43. Gracie says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!! I want to begin in this great quilt-world!! XD

  44. Marianne says:

    Thanks for the great tips!

  45. Vickie Angell says:

    What wonderful information! Thank you so much.

  46. Jen L says:

    I always struggle with squaring up, feeling I am wasting fabric. But I was more time trying to get square cuts!

  47. Kari Sherry says:

    I’m just getting ready to start a quilt, so these tips are great to hear!

  48. LFinn says:

    I am really looking forward to this series of step by step tips. That will be so helpful for me! Oh, and what a novel thought–check the first strip to make sure it is right before proceeding. That would help me out a lot if I did that!!

  49. tiffany renee says:

    here is to a year of straight cutting!! i will master the rotary cutter!

  50. Jenniffier says:

    Thanks for the cutting tips. It is always nice for a refresher. Do you have a tip for cutting bigger peices… Lets say like 18 inch?

  51. Dee Wilson says:

    Thank you for the tips on squaring the fabric! That really helps 🙂

  52. Meghan says:

    I didn’t know not to use detergent. Thanks for the tips!

  53. Tess says:

    Thanks! This is great imformation and the photos are extremely helpful. I heart Cath Kidson!

  54. Cricket says:

    Oh, this is really wonderful. I’m one of those people who is always just winging it, with very little patience for instruction. You laid it all out so simply that I think I actually absorbed that information! I can’t wait to see the next installment.

  55. Paulina says:

    A bunch of useful points. I see I’ll learn a lot during this month. At least in theory ;)! Thanks for providing those lessons!

  56. Sheetal says:

    thanks SMS for a stay at home crash course on quilting! really looking forward to a fun month here!

  57. Brenna says:

    Great post! I am new to the quilting game, so I really appreciate the awesome tutorials!

  58. Latrilla says:

    When I was younger, I was never taught to prewash. Now that I am sewing again, I can tell the difference in prewashing. Makes me wonder about the fabrics on Project Runway…….

  59. molly says:

    so nice to learn the basics from jacquie.

  60. Silvia says:

    Great tips!! thank you!!

  61. Alissa D says:

    These basics tips are so helpful. Keep them coming!

  62. Allison S. says:

    No detergent–I never knew! Thanks for that information. Does anyone know if Woolite would be okay to wash with?

  63. Jenny says:

    Great post! I learned a lot from the cutting tips, especially. Looking forward to the next posts in the series.

  64. Dianne says:

    Jacquie you are AWESOME!!!! Thanks for the clear and concise instructions. As a new quilter I find this info very valuable. Looking forward to your next installment.


  65. Marissa says:

    Great practical tips to get started! Thanks so much!

  66. Kathie says:

    Very excited about this series. I am working on my first quilt and realizing there is so much more to learn.

  67. Heather says:

    Great tips! I have the most trouble with the cutting! Definitely just need to practice more!

  68. Audrey says:

    Thank you for doing this series! I did not know that tip of washing fabric with baby shampoo. I tend to not wash fabric when making quilts, but I always use color catchers which have worked for me so far!

  69. Kathy says:

    Great tips! Thanks so much!

  70. Stacy says:

    Those are some great tips for a beginner like me. Thank you so much!

  71. Fiona says:

    Great tips!

  72. Gretchen says:

    Just seeing that it is quilt month makes me want to drop everything and get to work! If only…

  73. Deanna says:

    Good suggestions–especially ironing. I am a short-cut type person, but skipping ironing isn’t a short cut, it is more like a dead end.

  74. Marcia W. says:

    Jacquie and SewMamaSew, Thank you for this tutorial. I’ve never used color catchers, and will add this to my shopping list.

  75. Laura says:

    I definitely needed a rotary cutter before I try a quilt.

  76. I was waiting for these quiting basic tuts to learn more. Thx. Looking forward to the next ones 🙂

  77. Erin says:

    I really appreciate this. When I think about starting a quilting project, I always feel like there is some secret trick to cutting the fabric that I was missing. Thanks for this!

  78. Margaret says:

    I must admit that I aspire to be a pre-washer, but again, too much of normal washing to do. BUT, if I am using lots of red, I will generally pre-wash that fabric because reds are notorious for running. Your article reminds me that I have to get a bigger cutting mat!

  79. PaulaK says:

    Looking forward to quilting month. Thanks for the tips. I have learned so much from all the amazing quilters in blogland who have shared their knowledge with others!

  80. Jenn says:

    Ahhh, cutting. I both love you and hate you!

  81. Melissa says:

    Yeah! Tutorials for the beginners – totally needed by me as I have just started trying to make quilts. Thank you.

  82. Susie says:

    Thanks for the great start – I’m just about to begin my very first quilt for my little boy. Serendipity, I’d say!
    On detergents – I use Ecover which is an eco-friendly laundry powder that is very kind to fabrics and it’s colours(any eco-friendly powder will probably operate that same way).

  83. carmel says:

    i was realy looking for something like this to explain the basics


  84. Nynke says:

    Thanks for hosting a quilting month, these tips are great!

  85. Denise says:

    Hot dog! These tips are just what I need. I’m a beginner and don’t know anyone that quilts around me! I’ll be looking forward to the next segment.

  86. marit says:

    Nice, clear instructions, Jacquie! I just wanted to add that a grip handle on the ruler is a great safety enhancer, and it also makes cutting accurately a lot easier… I love my Gypsy Grip Handle.
    ; )

  87. Becca says:

    I’m so glad you started with the very basics! Quilting will be a new addition to my craft repertoire, and I want to start right!

  88. Shruti says:

    This month is going to be fabulous! I have been a reader of sew mama sew since about 4 months. And I come beck here EVERY DAY for my dose of inspiration.
    Quilting is something remote in my country (India) and I dont even get batting here. But I do try hard to use what is available in the local market to the best of its ability. (I use flannel for batting!)
    Your blogs have been very inspirational. Thanks for introducing me to the world of quilting which I am enjoying very much!

  89. Marcelle says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial!! I’m new at sewing, would love to make something beautiful but am still testing my skills on scraps as I’m afraid that I’ll ruin the fabric. I have been looking everywhere here for beautiful fabric but haven’t found any nice printed ones. Maybe today I’ll take the leap and start something.

  90. M. Malik says:

    This is great. Thanks!

  91. Cheryl says:

    It is so important for everyone to learn the basics, regardless of the style of quilting. Good job.
    I will make my comment, though, that I prefer to get my fabric to hang right before the first cut by holding it in my hands, not laying it down. Any wonkiness is more obvious this way, and sometimes selvage to selvage is way off when it comes to lying flat.

  92. jan says:

    I alway wash first, but I had never heard of not using detergent. Thanks for the tip! Can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I am a beginning quilter, so I really enjoy hearing different folks talk about the process!

  93. Maria says:

    Great tips…look forward to this month of quilting!

  94. Anna says:

    My rotary cutter doesn’t even HAVE a safety cover… eep, it must be older than I think.

    Thanks for solving the mystery of how you get that nice quilt-y effect– I never would have known it was from not pre-washing, as I always have!

  95. L says:

    I love reading your website. It’s such a great resource! Thanks,

  96. Michelle says:

    Add me to the group who never heard about not using detergent. I didn’t think dreft was actually mild???

  97. alisha says:

    Last week I was pre-washing fabric for my first lap quilt and couldn’t decide whether or not I should use detergent. Now I know (for the next time)!

  98. faith says:

    this is great… can’t wait for the next one

  99. Gretel says:

    Thanks so much for these fantastic tips!

  100. Anna says:

    This is really helpful! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series – you never know, it could result in a proper quilt in no time!

  101. Michelle M says:

    I’ve been doing all that, learned through trial and error. Nice to know I’m on the right track!

  102. lisap says:

    They say that God is in the details; I think also that success is in the details! So grateful to gain access to such a gifted quilter’s tips!!

  103. Jess says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Always good to start with the basics!

  104. Katherine Armstrong says:

    great tutorial! V. helpful for me (a beginning quilter)

  105. Jessica says:

    I’m so happy you’re doing this series. I’ve dabbled in patchwork and quilting but have no real skills built up. So I’m looking forward to learning some basics.

  106. Sara says:

    Ahhh to prewash or not to prewash that is always the question and I am always afraid to prewash dark colors! Thank you SOOO much for this tutorial!

  107. sophie says:

    i’ve always been intimidated by the “perfect” square so I’ve always made crazy quilts.
    this tutorial makes it seem so much easier!

  108. Mary M says:

    I’m still on the fence of pre-wash vs not. I do a little of both right now until I’m confident that I don’t need to. I hate washing fabrics and getting all those pesky fraying threads.

  109. Cayce says:

    great reminders!

  110. Lindsey says:

    I’m also a new-ish quilter. I am intrigued by the way you square up your fabric… would you (or anyone else) be willing to make a video of this?

    I took a beginning quilting class, and this looks MUCH easier than the way I was taught (which involves picking it up and hanging it and adjusting with your fingers – where, at some point, the fabric falls out of my fingers and I have to start over again for the 132nd time). I’ll try just about anything else!

  111. Sara says:

    So true, measure twice, cut once. Too many times I have done the opposite. Thanks for the tips!

  112. Nicole N. says:

    I love seeing the basics spelled out like this for me–thanks!!!

  113. Julia says:

    This is a great tutorial. I’m planning on starting my first quilt ever tomorrow and is definitely going to help with the cutting!

  114. Elizabeth says:

    I’m a beginner quilter and I always prewash my fabric. The last thing I want to do isgive a quilt as a gift and find out that the colors have bled when they washed the quilt! How embarrassing.

  115. Celeste says:

    Love basic advice like this–so helpful!

  116. Melissa says:

    great tips, thank you! I have always had trouble with the infamous “v”‘s after cutting my strips, and I’ll be sure to be better about lining up my selvages better! Thank you!

  117. Shawn says:

    I appreciate you walking us through each step. I tend to rush through the initial cutting/squaring up the fabric, and pay for it later!!

  118. Nicole says:

    I learned a lot from your post. I am new to quilting. Thank you.

  119. Christine says:

    I’m going to try my rotary cutter again. I have trouble with straight lines.

  120. Karla says:

    I am constantly on the look out for quilting tips and time saving ideas…thanks for the quilting focus this month and I hope I win a prize!!!!

  121. Kristin says:

    As a self-taught quilter I really appreciate the how-to’s…I always learn things I didn’t know!

  122. Colette says:

    Those beautiful fabrics are so springy! Would love to see how they pair together in a quilt.

  123. We are so lucky to learn all of Jacquie’s tips!! Thank you.

  124. JJ says:

    Super helpful!

  125. Jeni says:

    all I know is that I need a rotary cutter!! then maybe I can try a real quilt

  126. Helen says:

    Excellent tips! I’m off to sew!

  127. Great job, Jacquie! I see few instructions for beginning quilters that show or tell how to make sure you are cutting on the straight of grain — leading to needless frustration and crooked strips. Nice tutorial.

  128. Laura says:

    I wish I had this tutorial years ago. So well done. I’ll pass it along to new-quilter friends. Thanks.

  129. Wendy says:

    Yeah, not so much with me and the pre-washing. I’m impatient, I don’t like to clean up the mess of fray and wrinkles.

  130. Erica says:

    Thank you for this. I just started quilting and can use all of the tips I can get. I have previously been cutting with the bulk of the fabric on my left (I’m right handed), and think I’ll try orienting it this way next time.

  131. Ramona says:

    I didn’t realize you shouldn’t use detergent either. Thanks for the review of folding and cutting.

  132. Claudia says:

    Great tutorial…..First thing I learned today: Don’t forget the ironing!
    Kind regards

  133. Lara says:

    using baby shampoo for pre washing will make it easier to control my anxiety 🙂 thanks

  134. Shannon says:

    Color catchers are indeed fantastic!!! My quilting teacher had told me that she keeps the used ones and uses them to make cards and things. 🙂 Great post! 🙂

  135. Frogdancer says:

    I wish we had those colour catcher sheets in Australia…

  136. Uekiya says:

    This is Uekiya and I was wondering if anyone has had any trouble posting a comment here. I posted a comment about noonish, (it showed above the block where you actually type, stating it would be checked before publishing). I am sure that I did not say anything inappropriate, as it was all complimentary.
    I am very new at posting comments so perhaps I am doing something wrong. Sure would appreciate any tips or comments as to why my post “disappeared”.
    Thanks! 🙂
    PS…Your article was great, by the way. I have wanted to quilt for a long time but was not sure exactly how to begin. Now that you have given me the preparation steps and the correct way to cut, I will have no excuse not to actually make my first quilt. Thanks again for all the time you must put into this site!

  137. julie says:

    As always, wonderful instructions! Thanks, Jacquie!

  138. Ellen says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial!

  139. Denise says:

    I have been quilting for quite a while, but I love seeing the basics done up in such a nice manner! I am sure I will be sending my friends here all month!! Thanks

  140. peggy somers says:

    You can never Iron enough. Great information.

  141. Katie says:

    I don’t usually pre-wash. I like the wrinkly look!

  142. kat says:

    Brilliant series!We will be watching and learning…. Thank you!

  143. Cherryl says:

    I did not realize that detergent was not necessary for pre-washing. Looking forward to reading future quilting tips.

  144. I’ve always wanted to learn how to quilt…with such a fabulous tutorial-it’s my time!

  145. holly says:

    this is helpful! i didn’t know about the color catchers.

  146. kathy says:

    I so want to make a quilt, a big quilt. I know I should start small and learn the technique, but I’m sometimes impatient for the final product. I’m sure I’m going to learn some great tips here this month.

  147. Chantel says:

    Ironing….that’s a step I missed. Thanks for the reminder.

  148. Rochelle says:

    very interesting point about detergent and cotton….I’m going to have to watch that. Also, I was glad to hear a review of the Shout Color Catchers.

  149. April says:

    Thank you for the post. It’s nice to see that I’m on the right track, and to read the reasons why someone wouldn’t prewash their fabric! 🙂

  150. DebbieKL says:

    I’m a pre-washer. I’m scared of how the project may shrink if I was after sewing!

  151. Sue says:

    I read the “if you’re left handed adjust accordingly” and wanted to add something useful to that. If you’re a lefty, purchase a left-handed rotary cutter. It will make ALL the difference both in accuracy and your safety. You can’t properly see where you’re cutting if you are using a right-handed cutter in your left hand.

  152. Rachel says:

    I love my rotary cutter!

  153. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I am really looking forward to this month! 🙂

  154. Jackie H says:

    This is a great post – so clear and love the pictures along with the instructions! Thanks!

  155. Kaye Prince says:

    I knew most of this already (and yes, I fall into the “don’t prewash” group), but I really loved the tips for evening up fabric off the bolt. Thanks for that!

  156. sarah baird says:

    sometimes you just need a reminder on the basics because i know i get a bit lazy, thanks for the post

  157. Tina says:

    Such a simple thing, but worth the explanation for us beginning quilters. Thanks!

  158. Crystal says:

    Thanks for the tip about detergent and color. I’m glad to see that my first ‘teacher’ started me on the right path with pre-treating and cutting. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  159. Jen says:

    I would love some tips on cutting LONG strips of fabric. I have had a finished quilt top upstairs for about a year, just waiting for some backing. But, for the backing I have to cut 14″ by 93″ strips. I’m so intimidated, I just keep putting it off. Do I just fold and fold to try to cut thru as many layers as possible at once?

  160. Michaela says:

    Thank you for the great tips… I’m new to this and need all the pointers I can get!

  161. sarah says:

    I actually never have straightened my fabric first by lining up the selvedges. What a great and easy idea!!

  162. Emily says:

    Thanks for the helpful post. I’m a brand new quilter, so the more simple the directions the better!

  163. Vonegt says:

    I’ve been pretending to be a quilter for about 3 months now– meaning that I have all this fabric and materials, but have been too intimidated to even start. This post will help take that leap! Thanks!

  164. Theresa says:

    Thanks for this. I am such a lazy and frustrated cutter! These are some great tips to make it a little easier for me.

  165. Jodie says:

    Thank you for these. I am committing this month to make a start at quilting.

  166. MamaBee says:

    Thanks for doing the basics. I’m just starting out, so breaking down the simple stuff really helps me.

  167. Ghislaine says:

    Good basic info! Thanks.

  168. Andi says:

    I always pre-wash my fabrics, but never thought of washing them in anything but my regular detergent. Thanks fot the tips!

  169. delitealex says:

    Great tips. I’m new to quilting and really excited to get started.

  170. Joan says:

    If I am making a quilt with red or purple fabric, I prewash no matter what. Lesson learned the hard way….:)

  171. Elizabeth says:

    Good tips! I always struggle with whether or not I should pre-wash or not! Thanks for the insight.

  172. Susan says:

    I’m so excited about this month of quilting posts! It started out with a great tutorial. I’m a beginning quilter, so going over the basics again has reassured me that I’m on track – thanks!

  173. Such a helpful series, even if you’re not a quilter. Thank you!

  174. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the tips! As a fairly new quilter struggling to get my pieces consistent, I am looking forward to more posts on tricks and techniques. Thanks!

  175. Alison says:

    Going to get some color catchers! Great tip.

  176. Delia says:

    These are great tips. I can’t wait to start on my quilt!

  177. MegVS says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  178. Jennifer says:

    I’m about to start my first (small) quilting project and am so excited about this series. Very helpful – thanks!

  179. kathleen says:

    thank you, I am so pumped about quilting month! Can’t wait to learn, learn, learn…this is a great beginning.

  180. Connie says:

    I am one of those “don’t pre-wash” people….never seem to get enough steam from my iron to make it crisp again once it makes it through the drier…

  181. Kathy says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  182. Lynn says:

    Maybe this will help me get rid of that pesky v that sometimes shows up when I’m cutting strips!

  183. sarah says:

    I’ve been wanting to try my hand at quilting!

  184. amy says:

    Hey, I love the color catchers tip, thanks!

  185. Maeve says:

    Great tutorial! Looking forward to all the topics and quilts during April Quilt Month! Thanks!

  186. Nichole says:

    Great tips here Jacquie. A good refresher even for those of us who quilt regularly.

  187. Ethne says:

    Another case of the disappearing comment – Jacquie, thank you for the guidance – I’ve never tried washing fabric before cutting and have heard that some quilters even prefer to starch their fabric prior to cutting – I’ll have to try out some of these techniques to see what’s best for me. With long seams though I tend to snip and rip to get a long straight edge as I find a multi fold cut gives me a ‘banana’ edged fabric strip.

  188. jm says:

    I have been looking forward to April! Yipee!

  189. Amber says:

    Great info Jacquie – these are perfect tips!

  190. Bianca says:

    This is just what I needed to get started! I’ve never quilted and I’m looking forward to following along and starting my first project. Thanks so much!

  191. Natalie says:

    Thanks so much for the great tips! I love your website. Looking forward to learning more from you this month.

  192. Kathy H. says:

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to once again take time to quilt! Look forward to the next installment!

  193. Lisa says:

    im glad you are starting with the beginning!! alot of us just jump in and never think about these things…

  194. Deb V says:

    There was a lot of great information in that post. I love to quilt but I consider myself still a beginner.

  195. Patti M says:

    Thanks for all the detailed tips. I’m a newbie so I’m soaking it all in! Thanks so much!

  196. Morgan says:

    Oh yay for the basics! Thanks!

  197. Julie says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to try that color catcher!

  198. Erin says:

    Fantastic! I’ve been wanting to start quilting, but have been hesitant to take the plunge without knowing a darn thing. This series is perfect.

  199. Ann says:

    Never heard of color catchers…thanks for the info.

  200. Kate says:

    I already love quilting month! This post and the ad for Modern Meadow fabrics make me want to play hooky so very badly.

  201. Palila says:

    The color catchers are a great idea!

  202. Briana says:

    I’m looking forward to tomorrows post!

  203. Genevieve says:

    I’m so excited about quilting month! 🙂


  204. laura says:

    Have a new rotary cutter and was having a few troubles…thanks for clearing up the process. Note to self: get a clear 24″ ruler!

  205. Leigh says:

    great reminders for safety and accuracy!

  206. Joan says:

    Great start to the month! Thanks so much for doing this!

  207. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the great info! I can attest to the wonder that are Shout Color Catchers. I throw one the the wash with every quilt I wash and I’m always amazed to see what color they are when the load is done! They’ve really saved me a lot of heartache.

  208. Carmen says:

    I’ve always been confused about the whole pre-wash or not debate. This helped answer my questions. Thanks!

  209. Amy says:

    I am going to pick up some of the Shout Color Catcher for my current quilt. The information was good and I look forward to more.

  210. Melissa P says:

    Such great tips. I wish I had had your tips when I first started quilting. Can’t wait for part 2.

  211. D'Anna says:

    I really want to learn to quilt – thank you SO MUCH for helping me get started!

  212. 4vs1 says:

    Thanks so much for having a quilting month! My hubby is so excited that I might sew him a quilt one day. What a great post to start quilting month. 🙂

  213. Corrinne says:

    Great tips! Thanks!

  214. Southern Gal says:

    My hesitancy at even starting quilting isn’t the sewing, but the cutting of the fabrics. Thank you so much for this. I’m so excited about this whole month of quilting helps.

  215. Sarah Broderick says:

    Anyone with cats can note that closing the rotary cutter is essential…Mine just love to send it flying across the room when I’m not paying enough attention to them 🙂 Great tutorial.


  216. Mary P says:

    Thanks for the tips. Every time I cut that way, people look at me funny. Many quilters I’ve met use the other way, and measure with the mat rather than the ruler. I prefer the ruler as I think it’s more accurate, so I’m glad that you’re teaching it that way! 🙂

  217. Narelle says:

    Looks like fun!

  218. Holly says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m right-handed, but for some reason I keep the fabric to my left and cut off strips on the right instead of the opposite.

  219. Cristi says:

    This is so helpful for beginners, like me!! Thanks!!

  220. I am definately a pre-wash girl! I love the ritual of bringing home new fabrics, washing them immmediately, ironing them and placing them neatly on my shelf as they await a great new project idea!

  221. Some great info Jacquie – thank you!

  222. ClaireP says:

    Brilliant! I’ve always wanted to make quilts so been looking forward to quilting month 🙂

  223. Tami Wall says:

    This is great! I’ve been thinking of making quilts for my daughter’s rooms, but wanted to get started on the right path so that I would be happy with the finished result. This looks like all the things I need to know. Now just to decide on what exactly I want the finished product to look like.

  224. Kadybug says:

    I guess I had never thought about the product I used to pre-wash my fabric…I am going to have to start thinking about this.

  225. Jerri says:

    Great topic this month! I liked reading these tips- can’t wait for more quilting direction.

  226. Java Jane says:

    Color catcher, huh? Never heard of it before. Thanks for the tip!


  227. Cathy A says:

    I see that you didn’t cut the straight edge based on getting the circles or design. I am never sure what to do about that. Also, I tend to be a prewasher when I don’t have fat quarters or jelly rolls or other precuts to be used.

  228. Desiree says:

    I love the wrinkly look, yet I always prewash. I don’t know why or when I started but I have a fear of not prewashing. Thanks for the tips if I forget.

  229. Nicole Maki says:

    This is a great tutorial!

    I always feel a little lost when trying to square up fabric for my first cut. Your way is wonderful.


  230. susan h says:

    thanks for the great tips !

  231. Ellen-Ann says:

    Just one quick comment on the pros of prewashing. I have a friend who developed serious skin allergies after working in a fabric store. Most fabrics are treated with some nasty stuff, giving that nice sheen and crisp feel. Better to prewash to protect our families etc. However if you are making something that will never be washed, you could decide to risk it.

  232. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve just started the cutting process for my first quilting attempt…look forward to all the quilting posts!

  233. Betsy says:

    I never knew that you shouldn’t use detergent for pre-washing. Thanks!

  234. Vicki K says:

    That combo of fabrics in the first photo is absolutely charming!!

  235. Kim says:

    I’ve just started sewing and crafting and just recently found you website. What a wealth of wonderful information.

  236. Helen Gillis says:

    Thanks for these “basics” tutorials – I’ve done some quilting, often skipping important steps, like squaring the fabric, so I can get to the good stuff. I’m looking forward to the rest of your lessons.


    Helen in Malden, MA

  237. Faith says:

    I have never pre-washed material…. however, I am working on a red and cream quilt right now and I think I may regret it. But I couldn’t bring myself to prewash. I just love that puffy look after you wash the quilt the first time. 🙂

  238. Monica says:

    Thank you for your clear, concise explanation on straightening the fabric! That’s a step that seems to get left out of a lot of quilting instructions and it’s the one that always confuses me. I must buy really crooked fabric!

  239. Nezabudkina says:

    The tips are very helpful! Especially for a ‘newbie’ me. Thanks!

  240. Amber says:

    Thank you so much for posting this series! I’m getting ready to do my first quilt and although it’s a little overwhelming, I’m very excited, too!!

  241. Nicole says:

    Those shout products are great, but not fully reliable. Ask my husband who now wears light pink underwear and socks.

  242. Manechka says:

    Can’t agree more with the pre-washing advice (but sometimes I just cannot wait to start on a project and then washing is out of the question “)

    These are all very helpful tips! Thank you for sharing!

  243. Sally says:

    Thanks for the tips. Can’t emphasize enough closing the rotary cutter each time you lay it down!

  244. Ashley W says:

    Thanks Jacquie! Can’t wait for the next one!

  245. Beal says:

    This is great info — I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!

  246. ~Helena~ says:

    I love the wrinkle pucker look, although I tend to prewash in fear of color bleeding. Thanks for the tips.

  247. Maria says:

    Thank you so much for starting this topic! I’ve recently learned how to sew and am hoping to start quilting. I have a huge pile of cut squares that was given to me! Can’t wait to start putting them together!
    Thanks again!

  248. Junglewife says:

    Great post for beginners! Thanks for the tips and hints!

  249. Tong says:

    Great post for quilting beginners! And pre-washing with baby shampoo… I never thought of that, thanks for the great tip!

  250. Beth Bullington says:

    I am excited about this month’s topic. I love quilting but consider myself a novice.

  251. kern says:

    Are you cutting through the fold when you first trim? How long is your final strip, is it the width of the fabric?
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  252. Sally says:

    i thank you for the great explanation of cutting — the scariest part for me! Scared no more! But i have a question: do you sharpen the blades or are there replacements?

  253. Shelly P. says:

    I never thought to wash my fabrics before.. Good tip!

  254. Irene says:

    This is a great tutorial. Also love your fabric choices and would
    like to know where to find the flower fabric on top in the first picture. (mfg.and collection)

    I follow your blog and enjoy it so much. So glad you’re part of Quilting Month.

  255. simone says:

    Thank you for these great tips, Jacquie!

  256. Great tips, Jacquie! I used to pre-wash everything….then I started building a stash, and having even less time to sew all the wonderful things I wanted to create…I gave up on about two years ago. I may go back, though….

  257. bess says:

    love that polka dot – thanks for the tips!

  258. Debbie O says:

    I am so ready to for this month! I have always wanted to learn how to quilt. Lesson one was wonderful and useful! Thank you

  259. melissa says:

    i havent even started to make a quilt yet but i really want to. this helps me is starting to think about what i need to do!

  260. Tally says:

    Hi, thanks for this month of quilting poss.

  261. Katie says:

    I have heard people talk about things they throw in with their laundry to catch the colors, but I never really knew what was being talked about. Now I have an actual image of what I need to go buy.

    – Thanks

  262. Sharon says:

    I have been a fan of Jacquie’s for quite some time; she even responds to my email questions, which I find remarkable. She is such an inspiration — we all can learn a lot from her.

  263. Margie Bennett says:

    Oh I’m so excited as this is exactly the lessons that I need!!Thank you so much.

  264. Denise says:

    This is so exciting. I’m hoping to get my quilt mo-jo back.
    Thanks for a great start to the month.

  265. moira says:

    I’m new to this quilting malarky and am becoming way obsessed. Not sure I’d have taken it up if I’d realised how much ironing it involved 🙂

  266. PeachRainbow says:

    I really don’t know how to thank you for this, I was on the lookout for some tutorials on quilting and you start THIS!
    Thank you so much for all the help and support you provide through this site for all of us who love some sewing/crafting!

  267. The dots not being straight would drive me NUTS! What do you do about that?

  268. Crystal says:

    Great tips – I look forward to more from this series and the entire Quilting month.

  269. Alisa says:

    Very well done. I like reading Jacquie’s blog too. She’s an amazing artist.

  270. Sara says:

    This is quite helpful – especially the bit about not cutting past your stabilizing hand. Thanks!

  271. Caitlin says:

    I love quilting and I’m so excited for a month of tips. I have a bunch of quilt squares that someone hand appliqued for my grandmother in the thirties and she wants me tomake them into a quilt and then hand quilt them. It’s a bit of a daunting task.

  272. Jenn says:

    Looking forward to this month…the perfect impetus for me to clean up my sewing room!

  273. Upstatelisa says:

    I can’t live without color catchers, jacquie!

  274. Rohaise says:

    This is such a helpful post, especially as I have just bought a cutting mat and rotary cutter. Now all I need is to actually start cutting!

  275. Sam says:

    good reminders. I need to get some Color-catchers. what a brilliant idea!

  276. Katie B says:

    Great tips. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for quilt month!

  277. Gretchen says:

    Very informative! I love tips like these!

  278. Jessica says:

    I’m so glad I read this…I’ve been sewing for quite a while now and fussing about uneven fabrics and never once thought of squaring them off like this… duh! I feel slightly silly now…

  279. Anna Pfeil says:

    Very informative. I hope to be able to remember the tips for my next project.

  280. Roxanne says:

    Thanks! I am so looking forward to this month.

  281. jeanne reynen says:

    I’ll be busy this month with quilts, quilts, quilts! Thanks for all the great info!

  282. Amy says:

    Great article!

  283. Amy Hodge says:

    Love seeing someone else as paranoid about rotary cutter safety as I am! Great tips!

  284. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for having this! I am just getting into quilting and love that you have the basics here for us!! The only thing I have made was a smaller rag quilt for my 3 year old daughter. Been wanting to do something else but not sure where to begin. Thanks again for you great site!!!

  285. What a wonderful post for beginners. I have some friends whom I plan to point toward this.

  286. TheMadHouse says:

    I a quilting virgin, I am reallt looking forward to this

  287. Ramona says:

    Yay! I’m so excited for quilting month!

  288. Deborah says:

    I plan to pre-wash and hope all goes well!!

  289. WHATUPDUCK says:

    Great tutorial!!

  290. Amber says:

    thanks for the great info. I never iron my fabric before i cut, I will do that now

  291. Megan says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I’ve always liked the idea of making a quilt but just the thought of where to start leaves me confused so I have yet to make that step. Definitely bookmarked this post under the ‘craft’ file for when I do finally give it a shot!

  292. sharon says:

    Great tutorial about cutting and fabric preparation! Thanks Sharonj.

  293. Jeni says:

    Great tips! I may need to pick up some of that color catcher!

  294. susan says:

    Thanks for the cutting tips, they’ll certainly come in handy!

  295. Linda says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m a new quilter and can use all the help I can get, especially since there are no quilters that I know of in my area!

    Also, thanks for the opportunity to win one of these great prizes!

  296. pam says:

    I’ve always wanted to make a quilt, but I haven’t attempted it yet. Thanks for the tips for those of us that haven’t tackled quilting yet!

  297. Ethne says:

    It’s great to see this special month on ‘Sew Mama Sew’ get underway. I’ve never tried pre-wash before cutting so must give it a go sometime soon. I have to admit though that as I don’t have a lot of space for long cuts I do tend to nick the seam and then rip the fabric, ensuring a relative straight edge and non of the banana bowing I get with a multi fold / rotary cut seam – I also do the same for non bias strips for bindings.

  298. Debbie Bishop says:

    We’re off to a great start, the very basics. For some reason the squaring of the fabric is one of the hardest parts for me.

  299. Becky says:

    I do think it is all about the right tools and knowing how to use them correctly. Thanks for this.

  300. Barb says:

    Yay, I’m so excited for Quilt Month. Thanks Jacquie for your series…can’t wait to see what is up next.

  301. Meredith S. says:

    Thanks for the tip!

  302. Sylvie says:

    Dear teacher,
    thank you for the lesson.
    I am a ‘good pupil” and I already knew eveything, but it is good to have it here, if a friend of mine wants to begin!

  303. Bethany says:

    Thanks for all the great information and illustrative pictures!

  304. an says:

    I simply cannot do the double fold. no matter how careful I am, I end up with a crooked strip. bummer!

  305. Ruth says:

    Jacquie, I love everything that you do :)…thank you for bringing us back to the basics, it’s so good to refresh and review.

  306. Julie says:

    No one ever stressed the importance of preparing fabric the right way when I started quilting, so I fell into a lot of bad habits. This has really inspired me though. It’s never too late to start doing it the right way, right? 🙂

  307. Mary says:

    Hmmm. Didn’t know that about not using detergent. Glad I found that out!

  308. Randi says:

    Great tutorial with pics…

  309. Stephanie says:

    ah…ironing is where i fail…

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