I’m going to come right out and say it – strip piecing is one of my top three favourite quilting techniques! When I’m not foundation paper piecing my quilts, I’m likely strip piecing them. Do you share the same fondness for it?
Well, wherever you stand on it, I think this tutorial will make you see it in a new light. As a relatively frugal quilter, I’m picky about which tools make it into my sewing studio. Notions can be expensive and it’s important that you consider how useful the tool will be before you make the financial commitment.
While designing the second quilt in my Woven Patchwork Series (the Alentejana Quilt was the first), it occurred to me that the cutting step could be done more efficiently by using Creative Grids’ Stripology rulers. And it sure was!
Above: Alentejana Quilt by Ships & Violins constructed using strip piecing.
Rarely have I felt so excited about a quilting notion. In fact, the last time I got so excited about a notion is when I discovered the Add-a-Quarter ruler for foundation paper piecing. Both of these have been game-changers for my craft and business.
You might be wondering what’s so revolutionary about rulers. Well, the Stripology ruler meets a very specific need, and it does it extremely well.
Have you cut dozens and dozens of strips before? If you have, you may have noticed how much time and concentration you require to line-up the ruler for each cut – it’s likely you even made a handful of wrong ones (I certainly have!).
All that effort – the bending over the cutting mat and squinting to line things up again and again – is reduced drastically with the use of the Stripology ruler.
I put together this simple tutorial featuring my latest quilt pattern: Neon Way to show you how easy it is to use the Stripology ruler.
The wall quilt was designed in response to an Aurifl Artisan challenge to showcase the new Aurifil x Tula Pink neon threads.
Okay, let’s get cutting some fabric strips!
Neon Way Strip Cutting Tutorial
Download and Print Your Neon Way Quilt Pattern
Click here to download the FREE Neon Way pattern via the Ships & Violins checkout.
Fabric Requirements for the Neon Way Quilt Pattern
The sample quilt features Free Spirit Solids and requires the following amounts of fabric:
- Fabric A (Tula) – ½ yard
- Fabric B (Snapdragon) - ½ yard
- Fabric C (Limeade) - ½ yard
- Fabric D (Razzmatazz) – ¼ yard
You can purchase these solids at your local quilt shop. I found mine at Fabric Spark in Toronto’s east end (shipping options available).
In this tutorial I’ll demonstrate how to cut strips for Fabric C (Limeade).
- Cutting mat
- Rotary cutter and fresh blade
- Stripology Squared ruler
- 6" x 24" ruler
Step 1: Understanding Width of Fabric (WOF)
WOF stands for width of fabric, which is the measurement that runs from one selvedge to the other as shown in the illustration to the left.
When we purchase a yard of fabric off the bolt, the fabric is folded in half. In this case, the selvedges are on top of each other and parallel to the fold as shown in the illustration to the right. The WOF remains the same, but the yardage is easier to handle and cut when folded.
Step 2: Trimming Your Yardage
Confirm that the your selvedges are matched neatly, and that the yardage lies flat. Then line up the fold of the fabric with a horizontal line on your cutting mat.
Using a 24” long ruler, trim the left edge of your half yard so that it is neat and straight.
You should have a perfectly square edge once cut, as shown below.
Step 3: Making Your First WOF Cut
Place your yardage so that it lines up with the 0” vertical line on your cutting mat. The folded edge should still be aligned with a horizontal line on your mat.
Measure 14” away from the 0" vertical line (use the markings on your cutting mat to help). Align the right edge of your 24" ruler with the 14” vertical line on your cutting mat. Cut your fabric using a rotary cutter.
You will now have a piece of fabric that measures 14” x WOF.
Step 4: Preparing for Your Subcuts
We now require (12) 1½” x 14" strips, as per the Fabric C (Limeade) cutting instructions.
We’ll be using the Squared Stripology ruler for this step. Many quilters recommend investing in a Stripology ruler because it makes cutting strips easier and more accurate. Here are some reasons why:
- Quilters can cut multiple strips at once. Traditionally, quilters will have to move a ruler each time they cut a strip, which is time consuming and requires more care.
- The slender cut-out windows help to keep rotary blades straight while cutting.
- The large format of the ruler helps to keep the yardage stable on your cutting mat making it less likely to shift during the cutting process.
- The cut-out windows are set ½” apart, but additional markings on the ruler help quilters to cut other popular strip sizes, like 1½” strips.
As you can see, if you love strip piecing there's a lot to love about this ruler! Okay, let’s get back to cutting.
To prepare the WOF cut for the Stripology ruler: fold your 14” x WOF piece lengthwise, and rotate it so that the WOF is parallel to you. This additional fold will ensure that the yardage fits nicely below the Stripology ruler.
Line up the 0” vertical line on the Stripology ruler with the left edge of your folded 14” x WOF cut.
Step 5: Making Your Subcuts
The Neon Way quilt requires (12) 1½” x 14" strips. As mentioned earlier, the Stripology ruler includes additional markings to help quilters accurately cut 1½” strips.
Look for evenly-spaced star symbols along the bottom edge of the ruler. These indicate which cut-out windows to use in order to cut several strips that are 1½” apart. Genius, right?! Your first cut will be at the 1½” marking, your second at the 3” marking, your third at the 4½” marking, and so forth.
That’s what we’re going to use to cut out (12) 1½” x 14" strips.
Insert your rotary blade at the bottom of the first cut-out window marked with a star symbol. Apply pressure and carefully run your rotary blade upward within the window until you have cut through the opposite edge of the fabric.
You have now cut (1) 1½” x 14” strip.
Repeat this step to cut (11) more 1½” x 14” strips. Use the star symbols to assist you. Re-position the Stripology ruler, as needed.
Step 6: Making the Remaining Cuts
Once you’ve cut your (12) 1½” x 14” strips, you can move onto the next subcut, which is (4) 1¼" x 14" strips. Because the pattern requires only a few of these cuts, you may find it faster to use a 24” long ruler to cut the remaining strips.
Use this technique to complete the other 1½” cuts required for fabrics A (Tula) and B (Snapdragon). Then get piecing!
Have you used a Stripology ruler before?
Let us know in the comments below.