QA Class 120 Lesson 4-5: Preparing & Cutting Straight Strips

I was listening to a podcast while cooking last night, and I love how Jacques Pepin talked about how a good cook is a technician first, then they add on their talent, and then maybe even go as far as to put their signature on it. I think it’s true. You really gotta know the technical aspects before you put a good meal together.

Quilting is the  same way.

As I slog through the minutia of getting perfect seams, I think building my technique muscles will probably help my artistic expression as I go on. I sometimes get bogged down in all the little steps, but they really do add up to a beautiful result. And that’s the point, right? I’m doing this to create beauty and put it out into the world.

So let’s jump right into preparing and cutting strips. We left off with some perfectly straight and folded fabric and bring it over to the cutting table.


Do you like my cutting table? I made it from scraps I found in the leftover bin at Home Depot. I like to stand up while I cut, so I made this little riser that fits on the back of the table my machine sets on. Not the most beautiful, but certainly the most functional!


After cutting the selvedge edge off, I attempted to cut straight strips, lining the ruler up with the bottom fold. I like to use the dotted line.

I find three Harriet tips help here: 1) keep the fabric folded ironed and folded into the four layers, 2) keep my ring finger along the non-cutting edge, and 3) it is true what she says about using a narrower ruler! This one is only 2-1/2″ wide, so it works great for my 1-3/4″ strip.

Some other technical things to remember:

  1. use a fresh blade.
  2. don’t cut your fingers off.
  3. get in the habit of closing the blade before setting it down.
  4. never set the rotary cutter down on the fabric.
  5. don’t cut your fingers off.

Let’s check the strips now.


Not bad! The pattern of the fabric is off of the fabric grain, but you can tell it’s a straight strip because there is no frowny bend at the ironed fold. So don’t pick directional fabric, and may all your strips be so straight!


What about you? Do you cut your strips this way? Are there any technical parts of quilting that get you bogged down? How do you get through them?

This post is part of a series where I work through Quilter’s Academy, a book by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave. See archives for the rest of the series.



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