Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Penny Patch: Cutting!

This post is part of a series {Penny Patch} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along.  You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner!  Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

Penny Patch buttonWoohoo, cutting!  This post contains a ton of pictures aimed to help beginners.  Thanks for your understanding!  Be sure not to miss the Cutting Summary at the end of this post!

Get out those fat quarters and press them.  If you're not sure how many fat quarters you should have for your quilt, see this materials list and this color scheme ideas post. 

Step 1:  Sort by colors.  

Your main colors are A and B.  Of the two, B is the color you'd like to use most.  Your "pop" color is C.  It will appear in small flashes in the quilt.  The rest of your fabrics are low-volume, which means they are lighter in color than the others and many feel neutral or "pale".  Those making a throw or twin quilt, also have 1-2 mid-value neutrals, which I'll call N.  These are not as light as your low-volumes, but still neutral.  N adds depth to the quilt. 

Step 2:  Cut the Straight Edge

Place your cutting mat towards a corner of your work table so that you can approach the mat from two sides.  Never used a rotary cutter before?  Please see rotary cutting 101

Begin by placing your pressed fabric (wow, I could have done a better job pressing!) on the cutting mat. Orient it as shown with the 22" side horizontal and the 18" side vertical.  Throughout the cutting directions, the fat quarter is always oriented in this way.  Your fat quarter may actually be slightly smaller if it was prewashed.  No worries!  We have extra fabric "wiggle room" in this cutting plan, even if your fabric is pre-shrunk.

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I am right handed.  If you are left-handed, you will be cutting with your left hand and will have to mirror what I am demonstrating.

In cutting EACH fat quarter, the first step is to create two nicely trimmed edges.  To do so, slide the fabric until the bottom raw edge extends just beyond a horizontal cutting mat line and the right raw edge just beyond a vertical line.  In this case, my selvedge is at right, so I slide the fabric until the entire selvedge is past that vertical cutting mat line.

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Place your quilting ruler so that its edge matches up with that vertical line.  Cut, removing the selvedge and establishing a straight vertical edge.

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Now place your quilting ruler horizontally, across the 22" length of the fabric, and match it up with the horizontal line just inside the fabric's raw edge.

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In this example the corner of my table is at my left side.  I move around the corner so that I can make this horizontal cut with proper ergonomic reach.  Cut, removing raw edge at the bottom of the fat quarter and creating a straight horizontal edge.

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Never try to cut from an angle that feels hard to control!  Always move your body or even rotate the cutting mat so that you can approach the fabric from a comfortable angle.  Avoid moving the fabric itself, to increase accuracy.

Now the fat quarter has two straight edges: a vertical and a horizontal.  If you are left-handed, your vertical edge will be at the left side of your fabric.  Since I am right-handed, it is at the right side.

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Is your mat too small to fit the entire fat quarter (as with a 12" x 18" cutting mat)?  If so, you'll have to fold fabric to trim a bottom straight edge and cut any 22" long cuts.  Once those long cuts are made, the remaining cuts will fit on a small mat.  For ideas on how to fold fabric for cutting, see this post

Step 3:  Cut A & B fabrics

Begin with an A or B colored fabric.  First cut (2) 2" strips along the bottom horizontal edge.  To do so, place the ruler at a horizontal cutting mat line 2" from the bottom straight edge.

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Then move around the corner to position your body ergonomically to cut.

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The second 2" strip is cut in the same way.

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Each fat quarter yields (2) 2" strips.  Set aside.

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Next cut a 3.5" strip measuring from the vertical straight edge.

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Measure and cut a second 3.5" strip.  It will be a total of 7" from the vertical straight edge.

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Remove excess fabric, so that only the 3.5" strips remain in your cutting area.

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Measuring from the bottom, where you already have a straight edge, cut 3.5" fabric squares.  Since the 3.5" strips are side-by-side, each cut will yield (2) 3.5" squares or (1) pair of 3.5" squares.  Each pair becomes part of a 4-penny patch block.  You need two matching 3.5" squares (i.e. one PAIR) for each 4-penny patch block.

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Continuing measuring and cutting at 3.5", creating more 3.5" pairs.

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Since this is a short cut, I am able to cut without moving around the corner of a mat.  I position my hand like so.   But, again, do whatever you need to do to cut from an angle that feels fully in control.  Try sliding the mat or, if absolutely necessary, reposition the fabrics so that they are easier to reach.

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Each fat quarter will yield (3) pairs of 3.5" squares.  Set aside.

Return the excess fabric to the cutting mat.  It measures about 14" square.  Match it's vertical and horizontal straight cuts to lines on your cutting mat.

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Measuring from the vertical straight edge, cut at 6.5" over.

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Cut again at 6.5" over, creating two 6.5" strips.   Remove narrow waste fabric at left.

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Make a horizontal cut at 6.5" from the bottom straight edge, creating (2) 6.5" squares.

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You may want to use the corner of the table to orient yourself for this cut, once again.

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Repeat, so that each fat quarter yields (4) 6.5" squares.

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This series of cuts is Cutting Plan #1.  It yields: (2) 2" x 22" strips, (3) pairs of 3.5" squares and (4) 6.5" squares.   

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All color A and color B fabrics can be cut in this way. However, you will NOT need all of the 2" strips  and 3.5" squares generated by this cutting plan, especially in color A fabrics.  To verify what you need, see the cutting summary at the end of this post.  If you want to avoid cutting extra fabrics, you can start by cutting your favorite fabrics first, keep a tally, and stop cutting certain parts of this cutting plan when you reach your quota. 

Penny Patch QAL Cutting!

Step 4:  Cut Color C

Those making the baby-sized Penny Patch quilt should cut Color C with Cutting Plan#1, demonstrated in Step 3.  However, stop cutting after making the 3.5" squares.  You do not need any 6.5" squares in color C for the baby-sized Penny Patch quilt.

Those making throw or twin-sized Penny Patch quilts, should cut Color C with the following Cutting Plan #2:

Start, as usual, with trimming for a vertical and horizontal straight edge (see Step 2).

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Then place your ruler at 3.5", measuring from the bottom horizontal straight edge.

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Move around the corner of your table to cut this 3.5" strip.

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Cut a second 3.5" strip in the same way.

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Return to the normal side of the table.  Remove the excess fabric from above the 3.5" strips.

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Now place your ruler at 3.5", measuring from the vertical straight edge.

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Cut, creating a pair of 3.5" squares.

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Move the ruler to the left 3.5" and cut again.  Repeat, creating a series of 3.5" square pairs.

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By the last cut, you'll have created (6) pairs of 3.5" squares.  Set aside.

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Return the excess fabric to the cutting mat.  It measures about 11" x 22".  Match it's vertical and horizontal straight cuts to lines on your cutting mat.  Measure a 2" strip from the bottom horizontal straight edge.

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Again, I walked around the corner of my mat to approach the work from the side.  Cut the 2" strip.

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Continue cutting 2" strips.

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Each fat quarter should yield (5) 2" x 22" strips.

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This series of cuts is Cutting Plan #2.  It yields: (6) pairs of 3.5" squares and (5) 2" strips.   

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All color C fabrics can be cut in this way. However, you will NOT need all of the cuts generated by this cutting plan.  To verify what you need, see the cutting summary at the end of this post.  If you want to avoid cutting extra fabrics, keep a tally and stop when you reach your quota.

Step 5: Cut Low Volumes

When cutting your low volume fat quarters, you will cut some via Cutting Plan #1  and some via Cutting Plan #2.   This combination yields many more 3.5" squares and 2" strips than 6.5" squares, which is exactly what you'll need! 

for a Baby Penny Patch quilt
  • Cutting Plan #1 - 4 fat quarters
  • Cutting Plan #2 - 3 fat quarters
for a Throw Penny Patch quilt
  • Cutting Plan #1 - 6 fat quarters
  • Cutting Plan #2 - 4 fat quarters
for a Twin Penny Patch quilt
  • Cutting Plan #1 - 9 fat quarters
  • Cutting Plan #2 - 5 fat quarters
As with the other fabrics, you can consult the Cutting Summary and keep a tally as you cut if you'd like to avoid over-cutting.  Notice that I do not estimate how many 2" strips you'll need in this color.  Because of the flexibility in the way colors are chosen for 4-penny-patch blocks (Color Recipe in Quilt Design post), it is very difficult to estimate your need in 2" low volume strips.   I suggest you cut about (3) 2" strips from each low volume fabric cut in Cutting Plan #2.  Set aside the rest and cut more as needed, when see what fabrics you like best in your blocks.

Step 6:  Cut Fabric N

Note:  This step applies to throw and twin-sized Penny Patch quilts only.

Prepare your fabric by trimming a vertical and horizontal straight edge.

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Then place your ruler at 6.5", measuring from the bottom horizontal straight edge.

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Move around the corner of your table to cut this 6.5" strip.  Cut a second 6.5" strip in the same way.

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Remove the excess fabric from above the 6.5" strips.  Now place your ruler at 6.5", measuring from the vertical straight edge.

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Cut, creating a pair of 6.5" squares.  Move the ruler to the left 6.5" and cut again.

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Repeat one more time, creating a total of (6) of 6.5" square pairs.  This Cutting Plan #3 yields (6) 6.5" squares.  The throw quilt requires 6 fabric N squares, while the twin requires 8.

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::Cutting Summary::
In this cutting list, 2" strips are expected to be about 22" long (cut from a fat quarter).  If you are not cutting fat quarters, they need to be at least 16" long for our purposes.

for a Baby Penny Patch quilt

  • Color A - (8) 6.5" squares, (3) pairs of 3.5" squares and (1) 2" strip
  • Color B - (8) 6.5" squares, (6) pairs of 3.5" squares and (4) 2" strips
  • Color C - (3) pairs of 3.5" squares and (2) 2" strips
  • Low Volume - (15) 6.5" squares, (20) pairs of 3.5" squares and assorted 2" strips

for a Throw Penny Patch quilt
  • Color A - (15) 6.5" squares, (5) pairs of 3.5" squares and (3-4) 2" strip
  • Color B - (15) 6.5" squares, (11) pairs of 3.5" squares and (6-8) 2" strips
  • Color C - (6) pairs of 3.5" squares and (3) 2" strips
  • Low Volume - (24) 6.5" squares, (38) pairs of 3.5" squares and assorted 2" strips
  • Neutral N - (6) 6.5" squares

for a Twin Penny Patch quilt
  • Color A - (21) 6.5" squares, (7) pairs of 3.5" squares and (4-5) 2" strip
  • Color B - (21) 6.5" squares, (16) pairs of 3.5" squares and (8-10) 2" strips
  • Color C - (8) pairs of 3.5" squares and (5) 2" strips
  • Low Volume - (33) 6.5" squares, (53) pairs of 3.5" squares and assorted 2" strips
  • Neutral N - (8) 6.5" squares

Have fun cutting piles of all your pretty fabrics!

Penny Patch QAL Cutting!

If you have the space, it's really fun to tack your batting for this quilt onto a wall and arrange fabrics in your quilt layout as you cut.  (Sorry for the awful pictures.  My design wall area almost always has terribly light!)  If you are making a baby quilt, remember to start the first row with a 4-penny patch block.  Put up all 6.5"squares, spreading fabrics out colors in a pleasing manner.  You'll probably have to overlap the edges of your pieces slightly so that they'll fit!

ick, the lighting.

Then add the 3.5" square pairs as shown.  Keep your 2" strips near your sewing station for now.  We'll start working with those next week!

arranging a Penny Patch quilt

23 comments:

  1. Wow what an awesome post!
    I have a rotary cutter...perhaps I should get a ruler and mat, then I might actually use it....x

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    1. I can't even imagine trying to sew without my rotary cutter, mat (s) and ruler (ssssss). They are some of my most prized possessions.

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  2. i am so excited - so much fun. i was wondering how many low volume in my A and B colors should i use?

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  3. sorry rachel, the grey or brown is the N. i re-read the post. i am still wondering if you could help me with how many of the low volume in the A and B colors? i am guessing that it is more of a "my choice" thing. but, i would love to hear any of your thoughts.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you're right that N is gray or brown for the throw and twin quilts. As far as your question about how many "colored" low volumes to do, yes, that is really your choice =). But, I will tell you that I like it best when there are just a few colored low volumes (3 maybe?). With my current quilt I used more colored low volumes because they are so cute, but it made a less calm quilt. I still really like it, but its not as soft as my Vintage Tangerine quilt.

      BTW, you are a "no reply blogger" so I cannot email you =)

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  4. It's funny how different people are taught different techniques. (Not a criticism of you at all.) I was taught never to go by the mat's measurements as they may get distorted (who knows if that's really true?!), so I cut with the 'extra' fabric on the right side and use the measuring tool to measure from the left side and use the measuring tool to measure not the mat. Does that make sense? It doesn't matter. Your tutorial is great! It's just a difference in technique. Again, this isn't a critique at all. Just another way to get to the end result...

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    1. I used the same method Rachel is using when I started quilting, and it served me very well for quite a while until I heard somewhere, like you, that it was a "no-no"!! I have adapted quite well to doing it as you describe lroghair/lparks, and found a little less wear and tear on my cutting mat anyways along the more frequently used lines. (Now I can flip over the mat to the less worn side and still cut just fine, for instance!) Whatever works!

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    2. This is interesting. I have been quilting for many years and use the method that is demonstrated by Rachel. I haven't had any problems so far :)

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    3. I was thinking the same thing as I read this. I occasionally use the lines as a guide when doing a lot of small strips cause if I get in the zone I can knock em out without having to re-position my fabric a number of times.

      Also, using the mat as a guide can be easier for people who may not have as many rulers as others!

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    4. Great discussion! Yes, there is definitely more than one way to cut. I think this is easier for beginners. I switch between the mat-based and ruler-based methods depending on my situation. I do like that the mat-based method makes it easy to get different cuts without repositioning the fabric, as demonstrated here. Fortunately, I've had really good luck with my blocks coming out the right size, so at least for me mat-warping is not an issue. But really good question!!!

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  5. I have been cutting all night. It seems I have more scraps than I thought! So, I've think my throw will become a twin.

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    1. Great! Oh, you all are making me want to get back to piecing mine! I've put it on hold while I was quilting a top...

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  6. Excellent post! Thank you. I've already had my first screw up with my "N" fabric but had a different fat quarter as a back up. I'm so excited to see it all come together. Thanks for hosting!

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  7. I'm a first time quilter and only been sewing for about a year. My sister had me join this quiltalong. I was really nervous until I saw how detailed this post was. I'm still not counting on fabulous results from myself, but I'm much less worried about having no idea what is going on! I do have a question though - how do you go about arranging the patches on the quilt? I understand it's one that's sewn and then one block alternating, but the colors seem random. Is there any pattern to the randomness? And are all the small colored block always going the same direction? Ie top left, bottom right within the 6 inch square?

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    Replies
    1. Welcome to quilting!!! I'm glad this post is reassuring to you. About the arrangement of blocks in the quilt - yes, the colors are random. There is not pattern. I really just put them up and swap and rearrange them until I love the arrangement. If you do tack batting to your wall and use it as "design wall", you can also leave it up and look at it from a distance. Time and distance will help you see things that you'll want to switch. Have fun with it, but don't let it worry you. No matter what, it will look good!

      We'll talk more about the colors within the blocks themselves tomorrow, when I write about sewing the 4 Penny Patch block.

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    2. by the way, you are "no reply blogger" so I could only respond to you here. if you would like an email, you'll need to change that setting. Do a Google search and you'll find out how =)

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  8. here is my email - lovesewhard@gmail.com also, thanks for your thoughts, i appreciate it - camille

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  9. I find all the discussion interesting. I've always used rulers for
    Measuring and cutting and never the mat for the reason stated that rulers
    Are more accurate, but I'd venture to say either way could work well. I think using a mat would have the advantage that you could see right away if you veered off path instead of the ruler slipping slightly and not noticing it. Also I'd recommend not cutting on carpet but put your mat on a very sturdy hard surface. The mat will bend on carpet making your cuts a little bigger. I learned that the hard way!

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  10. LOL. I skimmed the pictures before readin the post. Thought, whoa! Whoa! She doesn't press her fabric before cutting!!!! :)

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  11. I ran into an issue when I was cutting where on 3 of my A/B colors I didn't have enough to make all 4 of the 6.5" squares, I don't know if it was cause I trimmed too much when squaring up my edges, if maybe some of my fat quarters were on the short side or had shrunk too much in prewashing. I made it work anyways I just trimmed down the blocks that I couldn't make 6.5" into extra 3.5" squares to do some 4 patches to replace some missing big blocks. In hindsight I wish I'd prewashed an extra A and B fabric.

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  12. Hi Rachel, i am starting your SAL quilt today. Thank you for the great work you have done, creating this pattern and sharing it with us!
    Hope to show you my finished top soon.

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  13. Measuring and cutting will be all off if you do not press your fabric FIRST,

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