selection of precuts

Quilt Questions & Answers For Beginners.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning”–Albert Einstein

This week’s blog will give you quilt questions an answers for beginners and really anyone who’s wondering about something. If you have a quilt question feel free to leave it in the comments. Every month I will try and answer them the best I can. Full disclosure that there may be different answers depending on who taught you. I will give my answers based on what I was taught or learned along the way. Definitely continue to explore for a different or better way! You can find last months questions and answers HERE.

How Do I Square Up Fabric?

I tend to use 100% cotton fabrics when quilting. This is the norm, but I’ve seen many other types of fabrics used to make quilts and they’re beautiful. With cotton fabrics there is a selvage edge along two sides of the fabric. The selvage is usually marked with the fabric line, maker, colors in the fabric, etc. Bring this side together with the opposite side to create a fold at the bottom.

showing a selvage edge of fabric

If the selvage has been cut off, a quick way to find it is the “stretch” test. You will see and feel the fabric stretch on the non-selvage sides when pulled on. The selvage sides shouldn’t have much or any stretch.

getting fabric ready to square up with the selvages together.

As you put the selvage sides together a fold is formed at the bottom. Sometimes the selvage sides go together perfectly and a true edge fold is formed. Other times it might not fit perfectly together or there is a wrinkle down to the fold. This can happen if the fabric has been washed and the selvage is kind of wonky. Simply manipulate the fabric to achieve a straight fold the best you can.

fabric selvage to selvage showing a wrinkle.
manipulating the fabric to get a straight fold.

This fold is your straight true edge and needs to align along the horizontal straight line on the mat. Next you want to straighten the cutting edge of the fabric on the left side. Line the ruler up with the lines on the mat where the fabric comes together and make the cut. The fabric has been squared up and you are ready to begin cutting out your quilt block pieces.

Lining ruler up to square up fabric.
Fabric squared up and ready to cut.

What Are Precuts?

Precuts entered the market in the early 2000s. Moda Fabric is generally credited with popularizing them and making them available. Other companies have begun to create their own sizes now with their own names, but Moda has the most popular ones and here are a few:

  1. Mini Charms: 2.5″ squares
  2. Charm Packs: 5″x 5″ squares
  3. Jellyrolls: 2.5″x 44″ strip
  4. Layer Cakes: 10″x 10″ square
  5. Fat Eighths: 9″x 22″ strip
  6. Fat Quarters; 18″x 22″
precuts example

Typically these items come in a pack of 42 or the complete line of fabric designs. I love, love, love precuts because of this reason. If you look there are many quilt patterns out there that can be made with a specific precut group. They are enjoyable to work with and the price point is less than buying yardage of a complete line.

How Do I Choose a Quilt Pattern?

This is a great question and yet a very personal one. I can however, give some parameters on certain things. First thing would be skill level. Getting a pattern that requires certain skills or knowledge that you may not have yet can create frustration, unhappiness, anger, and cause you not to finish the project. It may also make you think you don’t like quilting when that isn’t true at all.

Next I would say, size of the project. If you are a beginner be careful not to take on a large quilt that may never be completed because you burn out before the end. Start with smaller projects such as baby quilts, table runners, toppers, and wall hangings. These can be completed in a relatively quick time. Each project you complete helps to build skills for the next one.

Finally I would say fabric requirements. Fabric isn’t cheap. Make sure to check out the fabric requirements first to be sure you either have the fabric or are willing to spend the money to purchase it. In the end it’s a very personal decision. We all have different tastes. Run through these three parameters in your head first and that should make the decision easier.

Thanks for your questions. I hope my answers help and give you some guidance. Place your new quilt questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them next month.

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Always Find Time to Sew,