How To Cut Straight Fabric Strips For Quilting?


I have a recurring problem in that I never seem to cut my fabric straight no matter that I have the right equipment and so when I sew I always have something out of alignment.  Please help me its driving me crazy.

Answers for Quilters

To ensure that your quilt will be the shape you want it to be, your first cut must be straight on the cross-grain of the fabric (perpendicular to the selvedge).  It’s easy, once you have folded your fabric properly for cutting and squared the edges:

cut fabric strips straightHold your fabric with the raw edges on top, allowing the selvedge edges to hang straight down to the floor. Fold the fabric in half, right sides out, matching selvedge edges, and lining them up so they are straight and together. This is one of the most difficult parts, and it is amazing how much the cross-grain edge (the raw edges) can be off even though the cut appeared straight at the fabric shop. This is also one of the most critical steps.  If the selvedges are not lined up correctly, the strips will not be straight; there will be bends in the strips, and you won’t be able to make square squares – they will be misshapen.
  
line up fabric for an straight cutAs an extra step, check the bottom fold of the fabric, to be sure that there are no gaps or wrinkles there either. 
  
cut straight fabric stripsOnce your fabric is folded, and you are confident you will cut straight strips, lay it down (folded) on your cutting mat. 
  
fold fabric in half to cut straightFold your fabric again, lining up the bottom fold with the selvedge edge. Line up the folded piece of fabric on the mat with a horizontal gridline. 
  
lay ruler on fabric to cutMake sure that the selvedges and folded edge stay even with each other, and line up your ruler with a vertical line on your cutting mat. Move the ruler sideways until all of the raw edges are clear of the ruler and will be cut off.  You will probably want to go about ¼” past the raw edge into the “good” fabric to make sure you catch all of the fraying threads.

After you cut the first strip, unfold it and hold it up to see if it is straight.  If it has a bend re-fold the fabric, matching the selvedges again, cut a skinny strip to even the ends, then cut a new full-size strip and check again.

Usually after one or two cuts, I can get the fabric strip straight. I’ll admit that I have a piece of black fabric that I have not ever been able to cut a straight strip from. I wouldn’t begin to guess why, but I’ve already wasted about 1/4 yard trying!

I have given up cutting strips from that piece, and will use it only for small squares or backing.

Recent Posts