Here we are at the second step of making a quilt- cutting your fabric, making blocks, and rearranging your pattern.
*If you want to go back to the beginning, check out step 1 here.*
So I started with two jelly rolls and a charm pack for my quilt. The charm pack pieces were going to be left whole, and the jelly rolls got sewn into strips.
If you’re starting from whole cloth fabric, or if your precuts need to be cut before you make your blocks- this is where you do it.
To cut smaller quilt pieces from bigger cloth for the first time, it can be a challenge. You definitely need a cutting mat (get as big of one as you have money/space for), a rotary cutter, and a ruler. If you’re cutting squares or triangles, you might want to get a mat that rotates and get templates that are your exact size. So if you’re about to cut 400 3″ x 3″ squares, you might want to get a 3″ ruler or a 3″ square template. Either way, DON’T try cutting these pieces with scissors- trust me. Use a sharp rotary cutter and always cut away from yourself.
This is a GREAT cutting tutorial. Square up the fabric, use your ruler, and then make a cut. You’ll get better at it, promise.
For the quilt I’m doing, my jelly roll precuts had to be sewn together before cutting (it’s a common quilt hack to sew precuts together and then cut them at once!). So, I did a quick 1/4 inch seam on them and made 40 strip sets.
So I took my grey strip, sewed it to my teal strip…and then I started cutting. These needed to be cut into 4.5″ pieces. (Truth be told…I goofed on ALL of these, cutting all 320 of them 1″ too big. Then I had to go back and recut them all. So, learn from my mistake, and measure TWICE. Cut once.)
I was supposed to get 360 pieces, so I started stacking as I cut. I cut two strips at a time, cutting through 4 layers of fabric. I would make stacks of 10 pieces, then once I got 5 of those stacks, I would make a big stack of 50. (I ended up only getting 320 pieces because I messed up).
You can see here my stack of 50 on the left, a stack of 10 in the middle, and then two pieces I had just cut on the right.
Here are all 320 pieces cut and ready to be ironed.
Once you get all your pieces cut, you need to iron them. It seems like a hassle, but TRUST ME, your quilt will be better if you iron your pieces. These are sort of mini blocks- but they have a seam that needs to be pressed.
There’s a saying in quilting videos, “Set the seam and roll it back.” This means you first press the block and then you roll it open. You want to start with the darker fabric up, so as you roll it, the seam goes under the darker side.
This is me setting the seam…
And this is the roll back to open it.
Here’s a great video on ironing. Yes, there’s a technique.
Once you have all your pieces (or blocks, if your blocks are just a seam like mine), you’re ready to start sewing.
But you have to make sure your pattern is ready. For me, I’m having to refigure my pattern since I only had 320 pieces instead of 360. Or maybe you don’t want to make as big of a quilt as you pattern calls for (that’s often me!).
Don’t be afraid here. It’s just a little math (I’m talking to myself because math can be overwhelming). If you’re doing a pattern that is just a block repeated, you just need to measure your block and determine how many you need. For example, if you’re making an 8″ block, and you want to make a baby quilt (standard is around 31 1/2″ x 52″) then you need your quilt to be 4 blocks wide and 7 blocks long (because once you account for a 1/4 seam allowance as you sew the blocks together, you’re right on the measurement!). So you need 28 blocks.
For my quilt, I had to sort of figure out the pattern of the quilt pattern (if that makes sense.
I am sewing it in a diagonal, and I figured out it grows by 2 from rows 2-13, then has two rows that are the same, then comes back down by 2.
So I needed to cut at least 2 of these 2-strip blocks…and the easiest way for me to visualize it was to literally start blacking out squares on the printed pattern.
I figured out my layout, so my next step is to lay it out on a flat surface (I use the floor or the top of a bed) and then start sewing.
Up next is the sewing rows! Woohoo!