Thursday, May 25, 2017

Beginners Unite! Side Trip - Cutting large yardage

Side trip number two is going to take us to those large pieces of fabric that we need to cut down into much smaller pieces. 

How often does a pattern call for you to get 3 or more yards of one fabric? That is a lot of fabric, and it's heavy! How do you deal with the heavy fabric without it pulling and stretching and throwing off your accuracy? 

Let me start by sharing what I usually do. In my patterns I instruct quilters to cut a certain amount of strips by the width of fabric. Ex. Cut ten strips 2 1/2" x WOF. If these cuts are coming from a large amount of yardage I will cut off a 27" piece. This gives me a more manageable piece to work with as well as 2" leeway for squaring it up. I only do this if I know I have extra fabric, though, because there is a lot of waste. As always, there are more ways to do this.  


Pressing a large amount of fabric can be frustrating. It's no wonder quilts are warm, that fabric can get hard to lift, shift and move! If I am unsure of the amount of fabric I have, I will keep the yardage in one piece,  but then to press it for cutting requires a little more work.

Here I have brought over a chair to hold the extra fabric. This keeps it off the floor as well as keeps the fabric from pulling and stretching. As I press the fabric I lay it over the sewing desk to keep it from wrinkling and getting dusty. When I am working with a lot of fabric I do not press it all at once. There is no way it will stay nice and crisp. I, once again, figure out how much I will be cutting, this depends on how many strips you need as well as the size of your cutting mat, and just press that much fabric.


Here is my trick for keeping the fabric from pulling and shifting on my cutting mat; my wrapping paper holder. Side note: have you ever noticed they rarely make cute wrapping paper in the size short enough so the lid fits? 

My cutting table is 3 ft high (I'm 5' 10 1/2" tall on a good day) and this wrapping paper storage works really well to hold the extra fabric. It's not about fancy, it's about using what you have to make your life easier, right?! 

The fabric just lays on top. Without falling away as you get closer to the edge. Don't forget to square up your fabric, even with large pieces of fabric you need to get the grain straight. To see how I do this read the previous post here

Ready and waiting for those first cuts. Once I have my strips cut I will move the wrapping holder out of the way so I can do my sub-cuts without moving the strips. Then it's back to the ironing board to press another section.

The key here is to find a way that your fabric just lays nice and flat without pulling or shifting. It should be relaxed. A relaxed fabric makes for a relaxed quilter. 

Share your tips for working with large amounts of yardage in the comments!

Happy Stitching!

1) Intro - May 2
4) Accurate cutting - May 23
4a) Side Trip ~ Cutting Large Yardage - You are here
7) HST - Half Square Triangles (My one true love) - June 13
8) Flying Geese - June 20
12) Adding Borders - July 18
13) Sandwich that top - July 25
14) Quilting - August 1
15) Binding - August 8
16) Labels  - August 15


  1. I have always struggled with cutting large pieces of fabric. As a scraplover, I almost always buy just a little bit more than I need, so I'll use the cut an estimate off, square up, press, and cut method. It does make for a bit leftover, especially if your fabric isn't originally folded well.
    I use a TV tray to hold the bulk of my yardage when cutting, pressing, or even quilting. It works well and is easy to move around and not likely to fall over.


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