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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Embroidery 101: Cutting the Fabric

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Cutting the fabric is always one of the scariest parts of quilting to me. I guess because I can always use the trusty seam ripper to fix any mistakes sewing, but I cannot uncut fabric.  Case in point, I forgot to take pictures of the cutting methods for these fat quarters, so I thought I'd just cut up a spare one for the pictures, yep, two fat quarters later I decided to go with the photos I have, even if the fabric strips aren't the exact measurement they are supposed to be.  Good thing I had better luck cutting the actual fabric.  I hope I haven't scared you too much, you'll be fine...so let's get cutting!

Here's the piecing diagram for the fat quarter.  You do not need to cut all these pieces right now, it is simply to show you how they will all fit in the fabric.
Begin by folding your fat quarter in half with the salvage edge along the top as pictured below.

Cut three 3" x 20/22" strips.  Set two strips aside for the inner/smaller square of your block and one aside for the outer/larger square.

From the remaining piece cut one 3" x 20/22" strip and one 6" x 20/22" strips.  Any remaining fabric can be added to the scrap pile.

From the one 3" x 20/22" cut one 2" strip off the raw edge end {trim the edge before cutting if necessary}.  Cut that 3" x 2" strip into a 2" square.  Set the long strip aside for the outer/larger square and the small square for the photo corners of the embroidery piece.

From the 6" x 20/22" strip, cut one 2" strip off the raw edge end, then cut one 6" x 13 1/2" piece.  The remaining piece is scrap {but save it as we will try to incorporate it into our quilt back}.

From the 6" x 2" rectangle cut three 2" squares, add the remaining square to these three for the four photo corners.  From the 6" x 13 1/2" rectangle cut two 3" x 13 1/2" strips, these are part of the outer/larger square.

I cut all my block pieces and then placed them in zip bags by piece.  When cutting, you only need to cut three fat quarters at a time {I cut them all at once because my boy was napping!}.  This will allow you to construct the blocks one at a time, if you prefer not to make them all at once.

Now, the cutting diagram for the solid fabric.  You will need:
  • 9 - 5 1/2" squares {pink}
  • 18 - 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" rectangles {blue}
  • 18 - 1 1/2" x 7 1/2" rectangles {yellow} (I had these reversed, they are correct now, thanks Sandi!)
When I assembled my blocks I did not pre-cut all the pieces.  Instead I cut all the 5 1/2" squares {and fused 5 1/2" squares of interfacing to the back}, but then I cut the 1 1/2" strips and sewed them to the blocks, and then cut the blocks square.  You will see details of this Thursday when I post the block construction post.  However, it is important to note which lengths come from each strip to best use your fabric.  You are welcome to cut all the pieces if you like, but I prefer to do it the other way.
And, here is the diagram of the completed block.  You may also want to put some thought into arranging your blocks. I've done mine in groups of three -- three blocks using three fabrics in rotating positions, and then I will shuffle those around the quilt.

Remember, this is my first time hosting a quilt along, so if you have any questions, please let me know!  I will answer all questions in an e-mail but also in the comments section, that way everyone can benefit.  Good luck, I know you'll do great!

Don't forget to show and tell in our Flickr Group! Did you blog about chopping in to your fabric? Share here:


  1. These instructions look great. However, I do think you labeled the blue and yellow in your solid cutting diagram incorrectly. The blue looks to be the same size as the squares (5.5 inches)and you have the yellow labeled as 5.5. I should get my fabric today, but I also need a smaller embroidery hoop before we get started with that. Thanks for the QAL. I'm really looking forward to it.

  2. Oh, wow, this is too complicated for me! I think I'll just stick to my silly, regular, squares!! (Although your quilts are beeeeautiful!)

  3. Great tutorial on cutting! Thank you for entering our giveaway on Striped Feather Co! It was my first time to write a pattern so I hope I did ok....good luck! :)

  4. Yeah! I've been so excited since your post announcing you'd do this! I'm on a bit of a tight budget so I might have to be creative with my fabric (i.e. might not have enough full fat quarters) but I'm going to try and make it work. Your directions sound like they'll make sense once I have my fabric and tools in hand. Here's hoping my girls go to sleep well this evening so I can take some time for myself and get startedon this. I've only ever just made up any 'quilting' I've done in the past so I'm thrilled to be doing this with others! I'll be quiet now and check in again later!

  5. I decided to join you all. I am going to be a copy cat though and use the same fabric. I blogged about joining up : http://jenniffier.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-am-already-follower-i-might-as-well.html

    I am excited about trying out embroidery.

  6. I'm cutting! Can't wait to do some stitching....

  7. Okay so I've already admitted to be a novice so I'm just going to ask questions even if they seem silly (I'm a teacher and I always telly students that no question is silly but it does feel like some are when you are the asked!). Thank you souch for your comment on my blog post. I took your advice and searched on Etsy and it was a success! So now I have to wait to cut some of my pieces but I have enough to get started. But now that I am working on fitting all these different prints together - do you tend to group prints by color or variety in size of print or...? It still seems like a silly question to me. I should just be able to look at them and group them together in groups of three. But I'm very detail oriented and worried that things won't turn out right (a real detriment toy creative process... working on it). So, any words of advice from experience? Do I group similar colors together or spread them out?

  8. Having never used fat quarters before - how are you actually getting all 18" out of your fat quarter? Once I get mine on grain, I've lost at least 1" of fabric.

  9. I also have the same question floreska had. I washed and dried all of my fabric and of course now that I am laying out the FQs to cut there is a bit of unevenness and some fray (from washing) that needs to be trimmed to square up the edge. I also have lost about 1/2 to 3/4 inch.


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Jennie & Clara