Friday, January 27, 2012

Made in Cherry Quilt Along - cutting the background pieces

Cutting big chunks of fabric always scares me a little.  I don't have rulers or matts big enough (or a big enough table for that matter) to easily rotary cut them, and working on the floor always involves realizing how dirty the house is, which then spirals into sweeping,  mopping, exhaustion, and sitting in front of the tv eating nutella by the spoonful.  So here's how I tackled the big pieces for this quilt, with no nutella involved!  Although I don't mention it in the steps, I was constantly having to move my mat around under the fabric and move the fabric around on the table to get the best cutting angle.

For the 80 x 80 quit we need to cut 4 squares 20½" and one square 43".  The 43" square will be cut on both diagonals to produce 4 triangles, so it's a good idea to prep your fabric with some starch so those bias edges don't stretch.

Let's start with the 20½" squares.  Start with your fabric folded in half along it's length.  Use your longest ruler (mine's 6" by 24") to trim the cut edge, making sure it's square with the fold.  Now grab a pencil and mark lines about every 3" or so, 20½" from the cut line.

Now line your ruler up with the pencil markings and cut.  You should now have a piece of fabric that looks like this:

Working at the selvedge edge, line your ruler up with one of the cut edges and trim off the selvedge.

Now get your pencil out again and from that new cut, measure towards the fold 20½".  As we did earlier, make marks every few inches so that they'll be easy to connect.  Then line your ruler up along the pencil marks and trim.  You should now have two 20½" squares.  Repeat the whole procedure to get the other two.

Our big 43" square is cut quite similarly.  I'm going to switch to diagrams because I think they may be a bit easier to understand.

 Start by trimming one end of the fabric so that it's square with the fold.

Now measure from that cut you just made and make a pencil mark at 24".

Slide the ruler along and make another mark 19" away from your 24" mark.

Now line your ruler up with the 19" mark, making sure it's square with the fold, and cut.

Take the ruler and make marks all along the selvedge edge, 20½" from the fold.


Line your ruler up along the marks you just made and trim off the selvedge edge.  Open the fabric up along the fold and you have  a 43" square.

The next part I found easiest to do on the floor, with a quilt under my 43" square to protect the carpet.

Fold the square on the diagonal, then press the crease.  Repeat in the opposite direction.

After pressing, the diagonal creases should be nice and crisp.  Use these as cutting guides.  I found it easiest just to use my scissors and not bother with the rotary cutter.  Crazy, right>

Alright, the dog needs walking.  I'll be back later with sewing directions.


60" x 60"
From the background fabric cut:
Four 15½" squares for the corner squares.
One 33" square.  Cut this on the diagonal twice to yield 4 triangles
90" x 90"
From the background fabric cut:
Four 22½" squares for the corner squares.
Two  37" squares.  Cut these in half once each on the diagonal, yielding 2 triangles from each square.

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  1. Yeah! I have five rows sewn! I'm making the 60"x60" Shopping for background fabric on Monday at my favorite quilt store Material Girls in La Plata, MD

  2. I cut my large pieces yesterday, and discovered my solid was only 41.5" wide (and that's cutting as close to the selvedge as humanly possible). However, I was able to cut 20.5" strips, and from each I was able to get 4 half square triangles using one of my star points as a template in the same manner as I usually us an Easy Angle ruler.
    So anyone else who finds their solid isn't 43", don't despair! I was actually rather happy about it this way, since it meant NO bias edges on the outside!

  3. I love your description of cleaning, getting exhausted, and then sitting in front of the tv eating nutella. I can so relate! That's why it's great to have a place like Spool of Thread Sewing Lounge around, they've got a huge cutting table and you don't need to clean up your house to get your quilt ready! I got a beautiful 24"x36" cutting mat a couple years ago and I love it!

  4. Thanks for all of the diagrams! My background fabric is currently in the dryer, and I'm hoping to put everything together tomorrow so I can photograph the finished top this weekend!

  5. going to try to start and finish this today! wish me luck!

  6. I think I need some nutella! I'm thinking I need to ramp myself up for this part. ♥

  7. Slowly building up the courage to start cutting tomorrow. In reply to Kasey who did half square triangles, I'd just like to point out that the bias edge will be sewn to the star points, with the straight grain edge forming the outside of the "block".

  8. I am only making a mini quilt, and I am still nervous about cutting the "big" pieces. I have trouble with anything over 8" x 8"!

  9. Glad i'm not alone in being a bit scared of cutting the big pieces. I'm making a 60" x 60" and I'm finding this huge already so thank goodness I chose the medium sized version!

  10. I am making the 90"x90" version and i bought the 3.5 yds of background fabric. I just don't know how to get four 22.5" squares out of 45" wide fabric. Don't you have to cut the selvages off? That would leave my squares unable to measure up. Help!

    1. Oh, no, thank you for pointing that out! I know I got awfully confused working out all the different variations and I think I must have bodged the fabric requirements for the larger version. It looks like you'll have to buy more yardage or piece your squares. Sorry about that. I'll make a change to the yardage requirement page.

  11. Chelsea,

    I'm making the 90x90 version now. I cut my squares 23 inches, and they were short. Wondering if anyone else had this problem.