Lesson #1 - Squares
Do not begin these lessons until after you
have read all the information on the first page about rotary safety and you have mastered the
Once you have mastered the 12
lessons on this site, you will have the skill to make many interesting
blocks and quilts.
Quilting is all about accuracy
....and avoiding puckers when
To cut accurately, you must "bond" with your rulers. Study them, and then begin
The first thing you must learn is
to cut even strips. Practice
cutting so that the ruler does not slip when you are cutting.
Place your left hand (assuming you are right handed) flat on the ruler,
and do not let the ruler move.
After you cut the your strips, you
will turn them around and
then cut again to make squares. (You will cut the strips for the squares
the same measurement as you cut the strips).
Your fabric is not ready to be cut until it
is ironed. If you do not
iron your fabric before you begin cutting, your
squares will not measure correctly. Do not skip this step. If you
have a large piece of fabric, rip it into smaller pieces to make it easier to
If you have never cut with a rotary cutter
before, start with a small piece of fabric like a Fat Quarter (a piece of fabric
approximately 18x22 inches).
Lift up the fabric and
match the selvage edges (the finished edge that runs parallel to the length of the
Lay the fabric down on the cutting board.
If the fabric is smooth, it is ready to cut. If it does not lay flat, you
will have to adjust the selvages until it does.
Some quilters prefer to remove all the
selvage edges before they start cutting, in case they accidentally get a little
of the selvage in their blocks.
To remove the selvage, just nip
the edge, and tear it off. Good quality fabric will tear
straight. It may wave, but you can press it straight again.
To begin, you need to make a "clean cut" on
the edge of your fabric. The easiest way to do this it to "overcut" the
first strip. Place your ruler as shown in the picture.
In the picture below I am
planning on cutting a 4-inch strip. I have placed the ruler at
the 4 1/2 inch mark. After I cut my first strip I can turn the
strip around, and cut again to make it exactly 4-inches.
Now that I have my straight
edge. I can just keep moving the ruler and cutting.
If you don't overcut your first
piece, you will will have to even up the of fabric on the other
side, and then turn the whole piece around to continue
cutting. It is easier to turn around a small piece than what
can be a large piece of fabric.
If you are working with
purchased squares, you can practice cutting them in half. Save the smaller
squares, as you will be using them in other blocks.
After you have made a straight edge, you
are ready to begin cutting. Move the ruler over to the 2-inch mark, place
your hand flat on the ruler, and cut from the bottom of the fabric to the top.
Always cut away from you.
Continue moving the ruler to the right every two inches and repeat the cutting
procedure. Always close the blade on your rotary cutter when you set it
Examine your first strip. It
should be straight- not bowed in the middle. If it is not
straight, it means you did not fold the fabric correctly.
Pick up the fabric and start again.
Once the first one is straight, you can keep cutting.
If you are cutting lots of
strips, stop every 8 inches or so and fold out your strip to make
sure it is still straight. If not, redo your straight edge
before continuing to make cuts.
Make sure you are not letting the
ruler slip by measuring the width of the strip. It should be
When making long strips, some
quilters prefer to rip their strips. Always test your fabric
to make sure it will rip straight. The advantage to
ripping your fabric is that it is quick,
accurate, and you don't have to worry about bowed edges. The
disadvantage is that you are going to have to deal with a lot of
I usually rip my borders, which
you should do at the beginning so as to have the longest piece of
Once you have learned to cut your
strips and squares, you are ready
to go on to the next lesson.
Irish Chain Challenge Block to see what you can make out of just
You may also wish to jump to the
Fun with Squares
Showcase Blocks if you are anxious to choose a design a start a quilt.
Here is a picture
of small squares, set on the diagonal
On to Lesson
#2 - Rectangles