Here are the first two parts in a series of Quilting Tips and Techniques

Tips and Techniques


An easy and accurate way to cut pattern patches

By Christine Thresh

Copyright © 2000 Christine Thresh

You can quick stick and rotary cut pattern pieces instead of going through the bother of making vinyl or cardboard templates. This method is only suitable for machine piecing templates with 1/4-inch seam allowances.

machine piecing template Make three or four accurate photocopied sets of your master templates from magazines, books, or packaged patterns. Always use the same photocopier to make sure the copies are all the same size. Keep your master templates in a file folder for future use. Always copy from your original masters, don't make copies from copies. Cut apart the paper templates from one photocopied set. Cut approximately 1/8-inch away from the outside lines.

stack of fabric Next, prepare fabric for cutting. Four layers of fabric can be "stuck" together using spray sizing. Don't use spray starch. Cut four pieces of fabric large enough to lay out several paper templates. Make sure the fabric grainlines run parallel. Spray the first piece, cover with the second piece, iron firmly, spray, cover with the third piece, iron firmly, spray and place the fourth piece on top, iron firmly. Let the stacks dry thoroughly.

If you need to make reverse patches, place two of the fabric layers in the stack with the wrong sides up. When you cut the patches you will have two reversed patches.

tape on back of template Now, turn the paper templates over so the blank sides are up. Place small pieces of two-sided sticky transparent tape on the back of the papers. You can use rolled pieces (sticky side out) of one-sided transparent tape instead. Place tape pieces in each corner of the paper template and a few near the edges.

Turn the templates over one at a time and place them, sticky tape side down, on the fabric stack. Watch for correct grainline placement. You can put the templates quite close together on the fabric. The paper templates can be lifted and repositioned until they are just right. Smooth the paper so it sticks firmly on the fabric. Work on a self-healing cutting surface.

Place a see-through plastic ruler over a paper template on the stack. Line up the ruler edge with the outside line on the paper template. Rotary cut along the line, going through the four layers of fabric and the paper. Continue cutting and moving the ruler to line it up with new edges.

Stick and cut

Gently pull off the paper templates and reposition them on your next stack of fabric. This time you don't have to cut through the paper layer, just line up the ruler with the outside edge of the template and cut. You can probably re-use the templates four times before adding more sticky tape.

This technique may put a little tiny bit of extra wear on your rotary cutter blade when it makes the first cuts through the paper layers. It is not enough to worry about. However, I use this technique for all my patterns so I have a special small rotary cutter set aside for making the first cuts through paper and fabric.

If you slice through a part of a paper template while rotary cutting, throw it away and get a new one from your back up set. I really like sticking and cutting. It saves all the work of hand tracing the master templates, cutting out vinyl or cardboard, and then tracing around on the fabric. It is probably more accurate, too.


By Christine Thresh

Copyright © 2000 Christine Thresh
swap blocks
Let's say you've received many nice blocks from a quilting swap. You love them all. However, they don't seem to go together very well. One solution is to use sashing strips in a compatible fabric to pull them together for a quilt. You could lug all your blocks to the local quilt store and hold them up to bolts of fabric a few at a time, or you could use the method presented here.

Pin the blocks on a plain surface and snap some photos of them. When you get the prints back, cut the blocks out individually. Tape the small blocks to a clear sheet of plastic such as a page protector from an office supply store.

photos on plastic sheet

Now, you can take your portable sheet of blocks to your fabric store and try out all sorts of potential sashing fabric. Place your sheet on bolts of fabric to see which one works best. Try out even the most improbable fabrics, you might be surprised by what looks good.

fabric choices

Check out my pattern page by clicking here


If you are thinking about trying foundation Paper Piecing, check out my FREE: Paper Piecing Primer site

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Created: 3/9/00 Updated: 2/7/01