Bright Sisters: Cutting the first fabrics

The first cut into freshly washed and pressed fabric is both terrifying and thrilling. I get over the terror by focusing on how much I want to make the quilt top. This one took a lot of focus, even though I kept telling myself if I totally screwed it up, the solid fabrics I’m working with are readily available and I can easily get more.

Ready to cut

I started by washing and pressing only the fabrics I need to make the four corner blocks for Bright Sisters. I figure it’ll be easier to keep everything straight if I just make each set of identical blocks in turn, so I started there. I used those marvelous little dye catcher sheets when I washed these, and I’m glad I did because the darker reddish purples did run a little. I did one batch with darker colors and one with the lighter colors.

Then I started with my first cutting diagram and just worked my way through each color!

The first few pieces

I’m pleased to say that I didn’t screw up the cutting, although I certainly tried. For the first two colors, I didn’t fold the fabric properly and my first strips came out wonky. Luckily I checked and was able to correct the problem before going too far. For future reference, fold the fabric so that the selvedges lie one on top of the other, more or less evenly. Don’t try to line up the cut edges. I mean, I know this, but sometimes I space out while folding and pretend I’m folding towels or something. Then square your ruler up with the folded edge and make a cut perpendicular to the fold across the doubled width of fabric. This will give you nice cuts that align with the straight of grain, which will save all kinds of trouble later.

The first batch of pieces are ready to sew!

I kept the little labels attached to the folded fabric before cutting, and then attached them to each stack of cut pieces afterward so that I wouldn’t get mixed up. Now the first pieces are all cut and ready to sew into units! In the photo above, you can see 4″ patches, which will become the background piece of the curved drunkard’s path units; 8″ squares, which will become half-square triangle units; 1.5″ strips, which will become 9-patch units; and 3.5″ patches, some of which will be used as-is and some will become the pie wedge part of the drunkard’s path units. I’m so excited to see this quilt come together!

My favorite cutting tools for this part of the process:

  • Fiskars cutting mat: I love this one because the rotary cutter doesn’t dig into it at all, and the gray surface makes the fabric edges easy to see.
  • Olfa rotary cutter (though I’m about to try out my new Gingher rotary cutter… more on that later).
  • Quilter’s Slidelock: if you don’t need to use a measuring ruler as your cutting edge, this tool is amazing for keeping fabric still when cutting through many layers. I have both the 24″ and the 14″ ones.
  • Acrylic rulers: there are lots of brands. The two I use most are my square 12.5″ Omnigrid┬áruler and an older 6″ wide Dritz ruler.

The previous post in this series was Bright Sisters Begins. Next up: Making the nine-patch units!


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