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Topic: How to Get "Perfect Shapes" for blocks???  (Read 1966 times)
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« on: April 23, 2009 07:15:00 PM »

Ok, I have tried over and over again to cut a perfect shape (typically a square) using rulers and have had no luck they all end up wonky and not squareish.

I was on Ebay just browsing and found this person's store:


They have many acrylic templates for supposedly making cutting out the shapes super easy. My question is, do they work all that well or would it be a waste of money?
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009 03:31:38 AM »

do you use a rotary cutter and mat? that would help out the most...pretty accurate. Also if you do, just cut one at a time. I sometimes stack my fabric and they dont turn out as perfect as I like Smiley im not sure about a template...never used one...let me know how they go if you buy one Smiley

« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2009 05:19:52 AM »

There are many things that can mess up in cutting blocks, usually it's technique. How are you cutting them ? Are they cut on the bias, long grain, or cross grain ? are you pressing or ironing them before or after ?

There can also be problems with the mate between you and your equipment. I rotary cut just about everything, but have found out recently that "Omni-Grip" rulers and I aren't a good match. They are marked well but but because they have lots of markings, I didn't actually line up exactly the same every time. If you are just a a 1/32 of an inch off in your cutting by the time you multiply that error by the number of squares you have across and down a quilt, by the end it's all screwed up. If you iron blocks after making they can distort and lose their shape, make sure that you are just pressing. There is a difference. Depending on where the fabric is going in the finished quilt dictates how I cut it, most blocks I cut are from the fabric cut cross grain, in strips using a rotary cutter and ruler. Borders and sashing is cut from the long grain, IMO it looks better that way, no seams from piecing it. Binding is cut on the bias in one long strip no matter how long it is.

If you are making 3 1/2 inch blocks, using a regular square rotary cutting ruler, after you've aligned your fabric and cut a true rectangular strip, cut a 4 inch strip of fabric cross grain, rotate and align again and finish cutting your 4 inch blocks. With the same ruler align the fabric with one 90 degree corner at the intersection of where 3 1/2 and 3 1/2 inches meet, you should have one side of your block on the vertical 3 1/2 inch line and the other on the horizontal 3 1/2 inch line. You should have 1/2 inch hanging out on two sides, trim that off and you should have a perfect 3 1/2 inch square block. Any errors in cutting are resolved when you make the block over size and then trim to correct size. It's an extra step, but they are the right size and perfectly square if you've done it right.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2009 05:31:19 PM »

I've bought some template sheets and made my own templates and that works well for certain things. I too have a little trouble with the rotary cutter if I'm cutting more than basic strips. I just bought lined and unline template sheets at Joann's.

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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009 09:06:16 PM »

wow, a lot more complicated than I imagined. I'm using a Fiskar mat and rotary cutter, I like both pretty well I just have a hard time keeping things staying still and not moving everywhere, I think next time I will cut long strips then cut out the squares, it should save me some time and sanity, plus its more likely to be accurate. I feel like a loser. lol. Well I will eventually see how that goes, I have four days worth of 5 AP classes to make up, talk about a lot of work (I have an 11.5% TOTAL in my AP Economics class!!! and I'm a straight A student third in my class!) Anyways once I get caught up and all I'll see how it goes and I will probably eventually get the beetle one cuz it is just soo cute!! LOL Grin

Thanks for all the help!
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2009 09:24:26 PM »

I always make my pieces about a 1/4" bigger than called for and then trim the "finished" block to the real finished size. 
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009 12:48:13 PM »

This sounds a little crazy, but it works like nobody's business, but only for cotton and natural fibers.

 Laser cutter.

 At my work we have one and I have no idea how I quilted without one. They can cut with more precision than a person (obviously, they're LASERS!) and it's so quick I almost feel guilty. So check your area and see if anyone (trophy shop, prototyping place, etc) has a laser etcher they will let you access for a small fee. They have a computer program so you can cut any shape and makes applique nightmares a thing of the past.

 So there is my high tech answer, but seriously, search them out. And don't worry about them catching fire, just ask the shop owners to set it up for you. Then you can just watch it work!

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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2009 01:28:39 PM »

You mentioned that you have a hard time keeping things staying still and not moving - there's this plastic stuff that I got for the back sides of all my rulers, I can't remember what it's called (other quilters, help me out here!!!) but it's like the plastic that's used for parking permit stickers and such - it sticks, but it's not sticky.  It gives your rulers a non-skid, non-slip underside. 

Also, when I'm using my bigger rulers, like my 6 X 24, I usually hold it down with my entire left forearm while I cut w/ my right hand.  There's no chance of it moving then!!!  Another trick is, if you are right  handed, to spread out your fingers on your left hand and press down FIRMLY on the ruler, cut with your right hand, then when you get to about even with where your left hand it, without moving the rotary cutter at all, just very carefully move your left hand up a few inches on the ruler.  Again, very carefully, as to not move the ruler at all.
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2009 08:30:13 PM »

Practise, practise, practise!!!  I couldn't cut anything straight at first either.  One day I found small sandpaper dots with adhesive on the back, so I put those between the markings on my basic ruler and it made a tremendous!!!difference. 
Just keep at it and soon you will be a pro.  Good luck!
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2009 10:12:08 AM »

One thing that I have found is that my fabric will pull on the bias as I move the ruler, lay the fabric out, etc....so I have started starching the end I have to cut before I lay it out. I hang it up with weights on the corners (clothespins x5) and starch the end, let it dry, then iron it crisp and cut from there. It's amazing how much more accurate your cutting can be!

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