Precision Quilt Piecing Part 1: Squares

piecing squares 1After recently purchasing yet another ruler, I had to ask myself why? Couldn’t one of the over thirty rulers I already have do what this new ruler does? This question sent me on a mission to critique the various techniques for piecing and to determine which methods are the most accurate and efficient for creating the more common units used in quilting. Follow along as I share with you my findings in a new series on precision techniques for quilters.

The first installment of the series addresses the cutting of strips and the piecing of squares. There are two cutting procedures essential for an accurate end product: 1) cutting the pieces and 2) trimming the pieced units to their correct size.

Out With the Old

piecing squares 2 and 3The first step is to square up your yardage. This is done by folding the fabric length-wise, selvedge to selvedge. Slide the selvedges along each other until you get a smooth fold.

Next place a ruler along one end to cut a straight edge. Most quilters will use an Omnigrip ruler for this.

Cutting with the Omnigrip requires placing the ruler on one end of the fabric for the squaring cut, then turning the fabric around to cut the strips, moving the ruler with each cut.

This technique is not only inefficient, but can also lead to inaccuracy.

In With the New

piecing squares 4 Cutting the Pieces

Step 1: A more accurate and efficient method is to use the June Tailor Shape Cut ruler. Using this method, you will need to fold your fabric a second time bringing the selvedges down to meet the first fold. Make sure this new fold is smooth. Align the zero horizontal line of the Shape Cut ruler along the fold of the fabric and align the zero vertical line along side where you will make the first squaring up cut.

piecing squares 5

Step 2: After making the squaring up cut, without moving the ruler, continue along the ruler making each desired cut. You can square your fabric and cut as many as six 2” strips without moving the ruler. This method of cutting is more efficient and more accurate.

piecing squares 6

Step 3: To make a four patch, repeat this procedure using another color. Sew the two color strips right sides together. Many experts suggest sewing a scant ¼-inch seam for best results. Press to the dark and place the pieced strips one on top of the other, matching up the seams.

piecing squares 7&8

Step 4: Next align the zero horizontal line of the Shape Cut ruler alone the edge of the pieced strips and align the zero vertical line where you will make the first squaring up cut.

After making the squaring up cut, without moving the ruler, continue along the ruler making each desired cut.

You can square up your strip set, cut your units, and have them paired up ready to be sewn, all at the same time.

piecing squares 9&10 Trimming to Size

Step 5: After sewing the units together into four patches, using the scant ¼-inch, press the seams to one side.

Now it is time to trim the units to their correct size. Trimming as you go along will assure you that your finished block will be the correct size.

I like to use the Precision Trimmer 6 by Marsha McCloskey. It is great for trimming other square units, such a four patches, nine patches, log cabin units, rail fence units, and much more.

For trimming larger units, I use the Creative Grid 12 inch ruler.

It is so sweet seeing your pieces drop neatly into place with points meeting and corners matching because of precision ruler techniques. See you next time when we will discuss half-square triangles.

More in this Series:

Get in touch! Leave a comment or email editor@nationalquilterscircle.com.


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Discussion
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16 Responses to “Precision Quilt Piecing Part 1: Squares”
  1. Michele Browning

    A selvage (US English) or selvedge (British English) is a self-finished edge of fabric. Salvage is something (such as cargo) that is saved from a wreck, fire, etc.

    Reply
  2. JoAnn

    I am confused. How can you make the cuts without moving the ruler? Wouldn’t the ruler be in the way?

    Reply
    • National Quilters Circle

      The cuts are made through the slats in the June Tailor ruler. It is a nifty tool available at most craft and fabric stores. I hope this addresses your question. I also noticed that it is an article and not a video which may have made it difficult for you to see the slats. Have a great day

      Reply
      • JoAnn

        Thank you very much for your timely reply. Now I understand how it is used. I will look for one in my local fabric stores.

        Reply
  3. Ruth DeShazo

    I wonder why I hadn’t thought of this before. I had just used this ruler for cutting fringe.
    I wish they had one that had the 1/2 inch slits in the ruler for those 2 1/2 inch strips that I so often need. Thanks for the wonderful suggestion.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    I was not aware of these rulers and will have to try them. The directions are very clear. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. judy

    Makes sense to me. Flipping the fabric usually causes one to re straighten the material. Thanks

    Reply
  6. frances

    …… “A more accurate and efficient method is to use the June Tailor Shape Cut ruler. …., you will need to fold your fabric a second time bringing the selvedges down to meet the first fold”.

    Maybe i’m challenged but i could not picture or understand that part “fold your fabric a second time bringing the selvedges down to meet the first fold” —- is there a video for this (easier to see than read). The photo was also hard to see trying to read the ruler and couldn’t figure out the differences in measurements also.

    Reply
    • De Ann

      I’m having very same imagination problem! Bringing down…first fold…not getting it!

      Reply
      • Customer Service

        Hello De Ann,

        Could you please give us more information on what you are not understanding and we will look further into it for you.

        Thanks,
        Becky NQC Product Programs

        Reply
      • Rachel

        I too am very confused about these directions. I wish the “ruler” description was given and this “fold “ technique had better pictures. Nowhere does it specify what this ruler or what’s so special about it , until the comment section where someone asked about it.

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hello Rachel,

          The ruler being used is the June Tailor Shape Cut Ruler. We apologize if the pictures are not allowing you to see the folding technique. Here is a tutorial from June Tailor on that ruler specifically that should help:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pETsJf2nNQE

          Cheers,

          Ashley
          National Quilters Circle Video Memberhsip

          We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
          https://go.nationalquilterscircle.com/C13444

          Reply