Most projects, even precuts, will require some cutting. There are a few simple tips to keep your cutting frustrations to a minimum.

How to Cut

Most people cut their fabric folded in half, including fabric shops. This is fine, except that it doesn’t guarantee the cuts align with the weave of the fabric. To align the weave, match the selvedge edges. Then, move them parallel to each other until the fabric lays flat. That will give you the proper alignment. Trim the edges and cut from there.  Cutting on the weave minimizes stretching and warping. It will keep the pieces, blocks, and quilt squarer. Yup – squarer is a real word.

Cut the largest strips/pieces first for two reasons. First, you may be able to cut other pieces from the remnants, which will save fabric. Second, if you make a mistake, you may be able to salvage some pieces from the miscut piece. This may save another trip to the fabric store or a panic attack when you try to get additional fabric.

When squaring up large pieces or blocks, meaning larger than your largest ruler, use multiple rulers along the edge. Align the markings on the rulers to keep them straight. You can even tape them together.

To remove pieces, such as in applique, fold the fabric in half. Make a snip to create a hold in the fabric. Then, insert your scissors to complete the cut.

For applique pieces, cut on the line to ensure the piece isn’t larger than designed.

Rotary Cutters

Use the right rotary cutter for the job. The size of the rotary cutter says a lot about use. A 60 mm blade can cut up to a dozen layers of quilting fabric at a time, if it is sharp.  A 45 mms blade can cup to six layers of quilting fabric at a time. Smaller blades will cut through fewer layers.

Smaller blades are also meant for more intricate cuts. You can use a 28 mm or 14 mm blade for cutting curves! In fact, Sue Pelland has a whole line of rulers which use these smaller rotary cutters.

How do you know if your blade is dull? Cutting will take more effort than usual. You will find you are pressing harder. You will be making more passes to get a clean cut. The cuts are jagged. If this is the case, either sharpen or replace the blade.


Find the right scissors for the job. There are a few different types of scissors. Most of us have utility scissors that we use for just about everything fabric. And a few threats may have been issued to those who dare to use our precious fabric scissors for anything else. Personally, I have different colored handles for my paper, fabric and everything else scissors.

There are smaller scissors with sharp points for embroidery work and fine applique cutting.

Duckbill scissors are especially designed for larger applique work. One side holds the fabric down and away from the blade, while the other side pushes fabric toward the blade.

Batting scissors have a long flat edge that balances on the table while cutting. The large sharp blades cut through multiple layers of fabric and batting at once.

Snips are little triangular scissors for thread cutting.

Images of these scissors and additional information is in the link above.


Pre-cuts are nominally sized as 2 1/2-inch strips, 5-inch squares, 10-inch squares, etc. Some of these are pinked and some are not. Pinking is supposed to prevent serious fraying and look pretty. Pinking can create a bit of crumbs. Regardless, measure the pieces to ensure they are the appropriate size.


Measure each section as it is completed, and trim as needed. Measuring and trimming frequently will ensure the quilt will be the right size when done.

Happy Quilting!