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.
After 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.
Out With the Old
The 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. However, 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
Cutting the Pieces
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 alongside 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 your fabric and cut as many as six 2” strips without moving the ruler. This method of cutting is more efficient and more accurate.
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.
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.
Trimming to Size
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.
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.
More in this Series:
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