November 24, 2009

Basics Tutorial: Squaring Fabric

All the patterns say "Square Your Fabric" but what does it mean!? Often when it has been cut in a shop, it comes to you less than straight, and before you can easily use your rotary cutter you need to get a straight edge to work with!

This piece had some extra funky folds in it, looked like they had been on the bolt that way too - makes it a great example!
1. Press your fabric. I like to use lots of spray starch, any old spray starch I can find on sale.
2. Fold your fabric, selvage to selvage. In the picture above there is a bubble in the fold at the bottom.
3. Adjust your selvage edges until the fold lays flat. Use your fingers to scoot them one way or the other until it is happy.

4. Lay it down and get prepared to make a cut. Notice that the cut edges are NOT together.
5. I'm using home dec fabric that is 60" wide so I need to fold a second time, usually not the case unless your cutting mat or ruler is smaller.
6. Line up your folded edge along a straight line on your cutting mat. Again, the cut edges are not lined up perfectly.

7. Check the depth, that you need to cut in order to have a continuous straight edge.
8. Bring on the ruler, and cut. Your fabric should be lined up straight on the bottom folded edge, and your ruler should be matched up with the grid lines.
9. You should have a nice edge to begin cutting your quilt pieces!
Because I'm sure someone will ask - Denyse Schmidt's County Fair has been used in this tutorial, and I will be able to share this little project when it is completed!! No telling when that will be though :)

I hope that helps someone! Anyone have something to add?


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JacquieLH said...

I am a complete novice in sewing so this may be a silly question but in the second to last picture, the left side isn't even either so did you do the same thing to the other side and make that even as well? Or is there a reason that it doesn't matter?

Love the fabric by the way! :)

Unknown said...

Jacquie - If I'm cutting strips or squares I usually don't! There's no need to square the other side unless you are cutting a big square, just work with the one straight edge.

Hope this helps!

Natalia from Piece N Quilt said...

Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

JacquieLH said...

Thanks so much for your quick response! That makes complete sense :)

I am in the middle of my first ever sewing project and already have dozens more lined up that I want to try. Quick/useful tips like this are just what I'm looking for :)

Thanks again for this great tutorial!

Sue said...

Just read your tutorial,I was wondering,should you wash the fabric first?

Many thanks


Anonymous said...

I've never done the double-fold technique, before, but I don't use the extra-wide widths.

I single fold, selvage-to-selvage, and align a ruler line to the fold, then cut to square up. Always keep in mind that your fabric is only squared up for the distance that your ruler is. So, if you use a 6" ruler, you have to re-square every 6".

Unknown said...

Sue - Pre-washing fabric is a matter of personal choice. I opt not to, but there are a few reasons to pre-wash, like shrinkage and sizing allergies. I believe shrinking varies with the quality of cottons, and to avoid allergic reactions, I wash my quilts as soon as they are finished! If I am sewing a garment - I always pre-wash.

Vicki said...

Looks great! It took me so long to figure out how to do that, and for some reason it kind of scared me too. What I like to do when I'm done is unfold it and lay my ruler along the cut where I'd had it folded to make sure it really, really is straight. :D

Yuki said...

Great Demo! I learned this in HomeEc back in 1960. I don't think they even teach this anymore. Good for you for taking the time to do this.

ttfn :) Yuki Nakamoto

Sue said...

Thanks for replying so promptly.I am new to your blog and would like to say how much I am enjoying it.


Cheryl Arkison said...

Ditto to the comments about continually resquaring.

I posted a video of this in my quilt along tutorials.

Tamera said...

Great tutorial. It's so much easier when you have pictures!

Trudi said...

Great tutorial Amy, would only reiterate the comments to keep checking and re-squaring as you cut.

Natys said...

From a newbie quilter, thanks so much.
Big help.

Unknown said...

I sort of knew this - but it's good to see it laid out in pictures! Thanks for sharing!

WendyLou said...

This is exactly how I do it, too. But it's so frustrating to see inches of beautiful, expensive fabric wasted. At my LQS (and even the local chain stores), if you ask for 1/2 yard, they cut 18" and not one mm more. Once it's squared up, I rarely have more than 16" of usable space. Very frustrating when a pattern calls for 18" strips or 3 - 6" blocks, etc. Any tips on how to handle this?? Do you just buy more?? A few more inches per fabric x 10+ fabrics per quilt really adds up quickly.

Cindy Stagg said...

Thanks for the great tip! I love your blog.

Julie @ Jaybird Quilts said...

thanks for doing this!! i get asked this all the time!

Zarina said...

That is what I usually do myself. Since I buy white cotton in bolts, I find that tearing it off instead of cutting give a more or less even edge.

AnnieO said...

I have that same fabric--in orange! It's beautiful quality fabric too. That is one thing that helps with the "offset" of the edges and waste. Thanks for spelling it out so well.

Denny1600 said...

Wendy: I ALWAYS buy more fabric than the pattern calls for. I also wash my fabric before I cut. By buying more fabric, I don't have to worry about shrinkage after I've sewn my project. I also remove the sizing and other chemicals that make me sneeze. Buying extra removes the stress of not having enough, allows for cutting mistakes (which I'm sure NEVER happens to anyone but me), allows me to have more of that fabric if I fall in love with it while I'm working with it (which is always one week after the shop sold the last of that fabric), and builds up my stash of scraps for that scrap quilt that I'll be making soon! I even have a plan! Sure, extra fabric can add up, but stress should not be a part of our sewing or quilting projects.

WendyLou said...

Denny -- That's a great perspective!! And you're right, sometimes it's cheaper to buy extra for the peace of mind :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for stepping up Denny! Buying extra for the inevitable misguided cut is a great plan. Happy quilting!

Casey said...

Thanks. That's a great tutorial.

Heather G. said...

Thank you for sharing this!! I have been needed to see this again! I just started quilting and am still learning everything!! Thanks again!