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SPN quilt, part 3

Although a little blood on an SPN quilt might not be inappropriate, given that the plaids are supposed to echo Sam's shirts. And maybe I should line the hem with salt or something. :)

Last time, I explained all of the little tiny squares I was going to have to cut. This post is about how I'm doing it. Long ago, when quilts were made out of scraps of clothing fabric (rather than new fabric that was bought for the purpose of being cut into pieces), women would cut templates out of cardboard or whatever else was handy, trace around them on the fabric, and cut them out. This is time-consuming (192 squares of the same size, remember?), but if you're working with scraps and trying to get them the same size, that's what you have to do.

Quilting had largely been replaced by mass-produced bedspreads and coverings by the 1960s (as with many other crafts). But as the Bicentennial approached in 1976, quilting gained a lot of interest as a truly American folk art. (Which is not to say there aren't quilters all over the world, with their own styles and methods, but it is mostly an American craft/art.) But women were also starting to work in greater numbers, and tracing and cutting out templates took too long.

So most quilters today use rotary cutting. There's a self-healing mat that goes on the table (or floor, in my case), which is made of a rubbery material that doesn't split when you cut into it and has a grid of inches over it (plus some 45-degree angle lines to help with cutting triangles). There's a rotary cutter, which is a circular blade on a stick with a guard that goes up and down to keep you from slicing off your fingers (and it is a very sharp blade). And there's a clear plastic ruler with lines going the long way down to eighths of an inch.

The ruler is 3 1/2" wide, so if you're cutting pieces smaller than that, you don't need the grid on the mat. You line up your fabric nice and straight--folding it means you can cut more at once, but it risks curvy lines if the folds aren't absolutely perfect--and match the line on the ruler that corresponds with the width of the piece you want to cut with the edge of the fabric. Like so:

Here, the dotted line is the 2 3/8" line. The cross-lines on the ruler make it easier to line up the fabric, as you can see across the bottom of the piece of fabric.

Then you lean your weight on the ruler and the fabric beneath it to hold it in place while you run the blade up the edge of the ruler and cut a strip of fabric the width you want. You turn the strip the other direction and repeat to get squares.

And that's it! I like to cut fabric while watching TV (though only during commercials if it's SPN), so the mat is on the rug in front of my TV. Leftover bits get saved in a scrap bag, to someday be used in other projects.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh! The stuff in that section of the fabric store makes so much more sense now! *light bulb*
Dec. 12th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
LOL! Yes, exactly.
Dec. 12th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
I love the "how to" bits of this. I've wanted to try quilting for a while. I'm thinking I should start with placemats or something much simpler than a big project. Whatever I make will have to be hand sewn. I have the mat, cutter and rule and it's helpful to see how it all works. I can't wait to see how your quilt comes together. Thanks for posting as you progress.
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Well, you're off to a good start if you have the supplies! Definitely go for the placemats; the first quilt I made was a bed-sized Amish-style quilt for my best friend's wedding, all by hand. I think I finished it for their one-year anniversary. o_O
Dec. 12th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Yep, sure. I have tried to do this. Failed spectacularly!
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Oh no! What happened?
Dec. 12th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
I love that you provide pictures, too!
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
It's fun. :) Glad you like them!
Dec. 12th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
Very interesting!
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Makin' progress...
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
QUILTINGGG!!!1! Fuck yes.

I like how you're going through and showing everyone the steps involved. I'm totally jealous of your self-healing mat. Mine is just a nasty bit of plastic from Wal-Mart. It gets the job done, but I dream of having a nice one, one day. We do have the same rotary cutter, though!

Exciting! Can't wait to see more steps!
Dec. 19th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
LOL! I like your response. :)

Rotary cutters are awesome. I've only sliced my finger once, I think...
Dec. 21st, 2011 06:45 am (UTC)
I just came over here to see if I'd maybe missed an update to Long Hard Ride, and saw a quilting post, and further down a quilt math post?! You write awesome fandom historical fiction and you quilt? Why are we not friends? OH wait... I know. I'm a crazy stalker-type you don't really know.

Well hi! I'm Lea. I'm from Iowa. I quilt and do other crafty sewing. Pleased to make your acquaintance, and I think that Kansas Troubles is the perfect block for what you're doing, and I love the coffee bean fabric!

Jan. 4th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
Yay, a fellow quilter! So pleased that you like it, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say as I go on. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
as only an amateur quilter and seamstress, i totally thought i invented using cardboard templates. /)_(\ i knew there was probably an easier way to measure and cut hundreds of squares, but now i actually know what it is! thanks!
Jan. 4th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
I thought so too! Then I read about rotary cutters and facepalmed. Glad I could help you out!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )