How to Cut Strips for Quilting

If you’ve been quilting for some time now, you know that you have to be meticulous and organized to have amazing quilts when you’re done.

There’s a lot of planning and preparing in quilting and shouldn’t let anything out of site. Even a couple of inches and two uneven strips can ruin your results, so why not doing it right every single step of the way?

Prepare the fabric

You may work with printed or dyed fabric, but the excess dyes and pigments may still be on the surface of the material. Various chemicals can also coat the fabric so that it looks better and more appealing to customers.

Working with fabric that has excess chemicals and dyes on the surface isn’t the best idea. Once your quilt is done, the colors may migrate and even bleed from one color to another, ruining the quilt. Wouldn’t be a shame to have done all of this work, create a perfect quilt, only to realize that after one washing the colors bleed one to another?

  • Wash the fabric

Washing the fabric is nothing but a great idea, and you should begin with sorting the materials of similar colors, cleaning them separately. Throw a piece of white fabric into the washing machine so that you can check the colorfastness. When the white fabric comes out painted in any way, it’s better that you load them again so that you get rid of all the excess dyes.

  • Use special formulas

Look for the specially formulated products that are supposed to pull excess dye from the water. A product of this type is very efficient for the batik fabrics that may need a couple of washings until the colors don’t bleed anymore.

  • Don’t use fabric softener

It’s also essential that you’re not using fabric softener. You don’t want to work with soft fabric as it’s going to be very tricky to cut it precisely.

  • Stay away from the small pieces

Try to stay away from the precuts of fabric that is too thin or too small to take washing. Even some of them are going to “survive” the wash, some aren’t going to be useful anymore on the cause of fraying. Don’t take any chances and focus on using more significant pieces of fabric for your quilt.

  • Starching

The fabric is going to be soft after you wash it. When it’s too soft, setting the ruler on top and cut precisely is going to be difficult.

You need to apply some starch and to press your fabric until it becomes stiff and flat. Not all quilters go with starch, so you’re going to have to decide on your own if it’s working for you or not.

However, you’re going to find out that starch stiffens the fabric just enough to ease out working with the material. You need to spray it on the right side of the fabric, flipping it over and playing a bit with the cloth until the starch soaks in. You continue with pressing it from the wrong side. When you’re spraying it from the wrong side, you also need to work it a bit and finish with pressing from the right side.

An extra layer of starch is going to make your fabric paper stiff, without any stretch. Accurate cutting is going to be a breeze. It’s essential to get to this stage as it’s going to be less complicated to cut the long straight strips.

  • Pressing

You should use a firm pressing board as they’re not difficult to build, but they’re fundamental for getting amazing results. You want to press the fabric without distorting it in any way. Use a hot and dry iron for pressing and stay away from steam. Regardless of what you may think, steam is going to maintain the fabric wet and not dry the starch fast on the surface, as you want.

Now that the fabric is ready, what’s next?

With your fabric stiff and dry, you should continue for getting the strips you need for your quilting.

  • Square the edges

When the fabric is stiff and flat, you may proceed to cut. Is it that easy to cut straight long strips out of a large piece of cloth? More often than not, you need to fold the fabric so that the fibers are aligned square and straight together. It’s fundamental for obtaining the perfect looking straight strips.

  • Always cut straight and square

Once your fabric is stiff, stable, and square, you can begin cutting. You should align the ruler and square off the end of your material. Flip it over so that you can always cut with your dominant hand.

Some like using the large cutter as it remains sharp for a long time; besides, titanium blades give you accuracy. It’s why you should pay the extra buck for a nice, sharp, and durable pair of scissors or rotary cutter with titanium blades.

Remember to double check the strips, cutting two and unfolding one. You’ll know when you’re off when you see a “V” shape or some peak showing up in the folds of your fabric. You need to do it all over again, so unfold your fabric, holding it up. Make the square once more, cutting off the edge and start cutting the strips all over again.

Do you need to go through all these steps every single time?

How to Cut Strips

It’s just one method to cut strips for your quilting, and you need to discover which way works the best for you. Even if it doesn’t seem to float your boat, you should at least give it a try once. It’s an effective method that results in blocks with the same size and strips lining up just fine, and we all know how frustrating it is not to have that when quilting.

Quilting is a building process in a way, and one of the most important matters is to prepare the fabric right. You need them to be perfect for piecing and beautiful looking results later on.

Related posts

How to Make/Build A Quilting Frame

How to Make Quilting Stencils

Other resources

Quilting Basics ~ Preparing & Cutting | Sew Mama Sew

Log Cabin Quilt – Prepare Fabric and Cut Pieces – Free Motion Quilting Project

How to Strip Piece in Quilting: 5 Tips for Successful Strip Piecing