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I remember the early days of sewing and trying to figure out how to cut up all this new found fabric in an effort to sew it back together again in an extremely cute fashion. I loved patchwork. I desperately wanted to learn to sew. This was around 2007 / 2008 when I was first introduced to the Cluck Cluck Sew blog.
After reading blog after blog and trying to figure out what the best price was for good fabric and then reading a handful of old sewing books, I was able to begin the very long journey of learning to quilt.
I remember the day I was trying to cut an 18 inch square backing for a pillow cover I was making. I didn’t know how to cut squares that were larger than my quilting ruler. I was limited to 6 1/2 inch squares or smaller because that was the width of my ruler.
Here’s how to cut quilt squares that are larger than your ruler. The squares I’m cutting here are eight inches by eight inches.
1. Here’s my set up (see below). As a regular quilter and sewer, I tend to have stacks of fabric waiting around for their turn. You don’t need all that. 🙂
What you DO need is a table, sewing ruler, rotary cutter, cutting mat, iron, and ironing board. I’m sure there are work arounds for a few of these tools, but they are some of the basic necessities to quilting.
You should be able to find all of these supplies at JoAnn’s Fabrics, your local quilt shop (they’ll be more expensive there, but I try my best to support my local quilt shop when it’s reasonable), or from Amazon. I linked to all these products in this post: What Supplies Do I Need to Start Sewing and Quilting.
I have a 34 inch Olfa mat that I was able to have after my grandmother passed away. Prior to that, I was using a smaller 18 inch Fiskars mat. The smaller mat worked perfectly fine for me for years. The larger mat is more a luxury.
2. Once you are set up, you’ll need to press your fabric. Well pressed fabric makes everything better. I tend to use starch, but I know plenty of quilters who use steam or nothing at all.
3. Fold your fabric in half. I have three yards of fabric here that I’m working with. Cutting fabric is so much easier with smaller amounts, but I wanted to keep this in one large piece.
Take note that I will be standing at the side of my table while I cut. I will be cutting from where the fold is.
I folded my fabric in half yet again so that it was shorter than the length of my ruler. This way I can cut the entire way up my fabric without having to move my ruler.
4. So now that our fabric is nicely and neatly folded and all smoothed out, we are going to make our first cut.
In order to have straight squares, we need straight lines on our fabric. By using the picture below, you will create a perfect (or very very close to) 90 degree angle on the bottom right corner. That’s the goal.
5. Now that we have a straight edge and our fabric is all still nicely folded, we need to flip our fabric over. Since I’m right handed, I’ll need to be able to run my rotary cutter up the right side of the ruler.
Since I have my fabric folded in fourths and since I’m working with three yards of fabric, I added a few temporary pins to ensure I keep all my fabric in place while I flip it to the other side.
6. Since our ruler is too skinny to cut eight inch squares, I’m going to use my mat as a guide instead. In order to use the inch marks on my mat, I need to line up my fabric with the lines on my mat.
7. We are now lined up with the mat. Count over eight inches and line up your ruler with the guide lines above your fabric and below your fabric. You are squaring your ruler with your fabric and your mat to make a perfect eight inch cut.
8. Below you will see I made multiple cuts every eight inches.
9. Now we are going to essentially do the same process again with the eight in strips of fabric. I still have my stripes folded in half. I stacked two strips on top of each other. You don’t have to stack your strips, but you can. When you stack them, you can cut four blocks at once.
First, though, we have to have two straight edges. We already have the straight edge at the bottom of the strip but we need to cut the selvage off on the right side.
I lined up my ruler with the bottom edge of the strips and cut the edge off.
10. Then just like above, I flipped my fabric so I could cut on the right side of my ruler. I lined up my fabric strips with the yellow lines on my cutting mat. Then I cut every eight inches using the yellow lines as my guides.
And that, my friend, is how to cut eight inch squares. You can see below how these denim ones are being used. I made some nine patch squares that finished at eight inches. I wanted these denim squares to be used in between.
Please take note that this method works well for fabrics that do not have prints (like my denim). This is a solid fabric. If your fabric has lines or geometrics or things of that sort, it is often best to use the print as your guide. If you don’t, your squares will appear wonky. Follow the lines in your fabric kind of like I did in this post.
Also know that all this is will be opposite if you are left handed. You’ll likely want to cut down the left side of your ruler instead of your right.
The denim I’m using here is Art Gallery Fabric’s denim in Endless Paradise. I found some here on Etsy, and I found some here at Hart’s Fabric where I bought all mine. I had never heard of Hart’s Fabric, and this denim is the only fabric I’ve bought from them, but I had no trouble at all.