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Thread: Newbie Question

  1. #1
    Away2me's Avatar
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    Okay I'm attempting my first quilt. Any tricks of the trade involved with cutting my fabric squares? I'm doing 4 1/4 " squares. I have a rotary cutter, a cutting board and a square ruler.

    I mean it seems pretty simple, but I figured I might get some time saving tips or some reminders from all you pros.

  2. #2
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    Welcome from NE CA. To save time, I would buy a 5" or wider ruler, or a June Taylor square. I can't think of what the correct name for it is, but it makes a 12" square, has slots in it, 1/2" apart. I have 2 of them, love them, others don't like them, it's up to you.

  3. #3
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    Read some of Kaye Woods books, and the simplest solution, although I'm not good at it for some reason, is strips. Sew strips together and then cut them... :)

  4. #4
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    You probably know this, but cut your fabrics into 41/4 in strips then subcut into the 4 1/4 squares. You can cut several layers at a time, but I wouldn't until you were comfortable with using the rotary cutter. You don't want to accidentally cut a whole bunch of fabrics the wrong size!!
    Are you using yardage or fat quarters?

  5. #5
    Away2me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim's Gem
    You probably know this, but cut your fabrics into 41/4 in strips then subcut into the 4 1/4 squares. You can cut several layers at a time, but I wouldn't until you were comfortable with using the rotary cutter. You don't want to accidentally cut a whole bunch of fabrics the wrong size!!
    Are you using yardage or fat quarters?
    Actually, I miss typed, I'm doing 4 1/2" squares. And I have no idea what you mean by yardage or fat quarters. I'm so novice at this! :roll:

  6. #6
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    You have all the right tools! One tip I found helpful is to include the "tick mark" in the cut. So if you're cutting 4-1/2" blocks, include the line for the 4-1/2" measurement. Also, work on those 1/4" seams. A quarter inch foot for your machine will make it a cinch. And square up anything that looks wonky.

  7. #7
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    for repeated cuts of the same size, a bit of tape or non-permanent marker on the ruler makes lining up a little faster.

  8. #8
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    a fat quarter is 18x21. There's all kinds of names such as jelly rolls, they're 2 1/2" strips, and various other "funny" names. Hang around here and you'll soon know them all. You can also buy just a 1/4 yard of fabric or even 1/8 yard. You can even buy usually dresses at thrift stores or yard sales to cut up. I've been known to do this, even though I have plenty of fabric. Especially good for crazy quilts. My 2 cents worth.

  9. #9
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    Be accurate in your cutting and again in your sewing and you will do fine. Be sure to sew exactly 1/4 inch on all of them. Also, if you have already sewn clothes you don't need to backstitch when quilting. You put one set of blocks in and sew then run the next set right behind it without a break.

    Welcome and if you have more questions there are lots here that will help you.

  10. #10
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    Welcome from the Ozarks. There is so much help on this forum, you will love it. My 2 cents is to start a small project, don't go for the big quilts, do a crib quilt, lap throw or something that will be easy and quick. You don't want to get bogged down and not finish (that's an "F" word here). Enjoy yourself. :D

  11. #11
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    I was wondering about the 4 1/4 inch blocks.

    There's no law that says you have to cut multiple layers of fabric, either.

    There is a lot of flexibility -

    If the blade of your rotary cutter doesn't automatically retract when you put it down, be SURE to do so. Those blades are sharp and blood is so annoying to try to remove from fabric. Also, the cuts tend to bleed profusely.

    I strongly recommend prewashing ALL of your fabrics before cutting.
    And if you use warm and natural batting, wash and dry that before using, also.

    There are others that feel as strongly that you are good to go with the materials straight from the store.


  12. #12
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    Quilters Rule (I think) did have a 4 1/2 inch wide ruler that was about 14 inches long.

    It's the ruler brand with the ridges on the bottom.

  13. #13
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    Olfa also has a 4 1/2 inch square template if you are cutting squares from scraps.



  14. #14
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Personally, I like to cut strips 4 1/2 inches across the grain of the fabric (selvege to selvege [sp?]). If you're a beginner, sew two strips together. Later you can tackle more. Press the seams toward the dark. Then cut those sewn strips in 4 1/2 inch cuts. That will give you 2-block pieces. I love the June Tailor Short Cuts. It's a clear vinyl square that has slits at 1/2 inch increments. Just be sure to mark off with tape or something on the slits you will be using to cut. That way you won't be wasting fabric by making the wrong cuts. You can use this same technique with any size strip you wish to cut. Just cut the sewn strips the same width that you cut the original strips. I love the book THE IT'S OKAY IF YOU SIT ON MY QUILT BOOK by Mary Ellen Hopkins.

  15. #15
    Away2me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mary quite contrary
    Also, if you have already sewn clothes you don't need to backstitch when quilting. You put one set of blocks in and sew then run the next set right behind it without a break.
    Oh that's very helpful. I have not sewn clothes before. When I was small, I hand stitched quilting blocks with my great aunt. But until last week I'd never touched a sewing machine. I've self taught myself everything so far. In reading about using the machine I learned about back stitching and just assumed I had to do while quilting.

    In practicing my 1/4 " seams on some square blocks, I thought it was annoying to back stitch! LOL :mrgreen:

    Thank you all so much for the helpful tips. I am starting with a simple baby quilt. Hopefully I won't get too bogged down.

  16. #16
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Good girl, practice is the key. And don't be afraid to make a mistake. Your mistakes will teach you. A trick I used to help students make the right size seam (if you don't have a quarter-inch presser foot): take a little post-it pad and split it in thirds. That is about the right thickness. Measure 1/4 inch from the needle (put the needle down and put the ruler or tape measure against the needle). Place the post-it pad on the 1/4 inch mark. Press it down as hard as you can. That will give you a good guide. Keep your eye on the edge of the fabric hitting the pad...not the needle. If/When the pad wiggles itself loose, just remove the last sheet and stick it down again. I taught beginner's sewing (garments) and they found this very helpful. I still use it for some things. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  17. #17
    mamatobugboo's Avatar
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    one easy thing regarding 1/4" seame, invest in a 1/4" foot for your sewing machine if you don't have one already. They are made two different ways - both are perfectly accurate it just depends on which machine you have. Here are two pictures PURELY of examples of the two different feet - you will need to purchase the 1/4" foot specifically for your machine.

    Sorry about hte double post - not quite sure what happened!

  18. #18
    mamatobugboo's Avatar
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    one easy thing regarding 1/4" seame, invest in a 1/4" foot for your sewing machine if you don't have one already. They are made two different ways - both are perfectly accurate it just depends on which machine you have. Here are two pictures PURELY of examples of the two different feet - you will need to purchase the 1/4" foot specifically for your machine.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Janome-Kenmore-H...QQcmdZViewItem

    I can't find a picture of the 1/4" foot without the black guide, but they are around - I have one for my janome. Good luck!



  19. #19
    Super Member Grandma Cindy's Avatar
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    the library is also a great place to start when it comes to books on quilting... welcome aboard the best board...

  20. #20
    Senior Member k_jupiter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Away2me
    Quote Originally Posted by mary quite contrary
    Also, if you have already sewn clothes you don't need to backstitch when quilting. You put one set of blocks in and sew then run the next set right behind it without a break.
    Oh that's very helpful. I have not sewn clothes before. When I was small, I hand stitched quilting blocks with my great aunt. But until last week I'd never touched a sewing machine. I've self taught myself everything so far. In reading about using the machine I learned about back stitching and just assumed I had to do while quilting.

    In practicing my 1/4 " seams on some square blocks, I thought it was annoying to back stitch! LOL :mrgreen:

    Thank you all so much for the helpful tips. I am starting with a simple baby quilt. Hopefully I won't get too bogged down.
    1/4 inch seams are a snap.

    Take your new ruler there.. put it under the needle. Slowly lower the needle down so it hits the 1/4inch mark from the right edge of the ruler. swing the ruler around so it is parallel to the presser foot. put the presser foot down to hold the ruler in place. Take three or four strips of masking tape and tape alongside the ruler, one piece on top of the the other. You now have a mark for 1/4 inch from the needle. At this point, raise the presser foot, back off the needle, pull the ruler out. You now have an edge to run your fabric against, exactly 1/4 inch from the needle. Don't remove the tape until the top is finished.

    we were (are?) beginners once. And terrified.

    Good luck,

    tim in san jose

  21. #21
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Hey Tim, my dad used to say that there are many ways to skin a cat. I'm going to try that technique the next time I'm at the machine. I use the post-it pad "method." I have a quarter- inch foot, but it's good to have tricks in my hat to help others who don't. Thanks. :lol:

  22. #22
    Senior Member Missi's Avatar
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    Someone mentioned books at the library, they are great cause they are free! A book that is great for beginners that i go to over and over again is the Fons and Porter complete guide to quilting. I picked mine up years ago at Jo Anns with a 40% off coupon.

  23. #23
    Senior Member QuiltinLee's Avatar
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    The best advice I can give is to read up or ask here on the Board anytime you have a question.

    There are always short cuts, but I would tend to wait to do them until I had a little practice under my belt if I were you. The first quilt is always the hardest since you're unsure of yourself.

    Just remember to relax and enjoy the experience of your first quilt. There are no Quilting Police that will come and take you away if you make a "mistake" here and there. There are no "mistakes". You really meant to make it look like that :D

  24. #24
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    Another way to "locate" where the 1/4 inch seams should be sewn:

    I took 1/4 inch graph paper - put it under the presser foot - put the needle through one of the lines - and then looked to see where the edge of the presser foot came in relation to the needle and a quarter line mark on the paper.

    I have an older Pfaff and I could move the needle left or right in small increments so I was able to use the edge of my regular presser foot as a guide.

    Or in my case, I put the edge of the presser foot on a 1/4 inch line and fiddled with the needle setting until it was "correct"


  25. #25
    Super Member Mplsgirl's Avatar
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    Good for you! Welcome from Illinois!

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