How to cut multiple small shapes quickly

If you can cut multiple small shapes quickly at the same time, you can really speed up the preparation time for making a quilt. As promised in the post about the new quilt pattern ‘Starstruck’ (here), I’m going to show you today how to cut multiple squares and oblongs for this – or any – quilt.

As always, begin by washing drying and ironing the fabric. (For more on pre-washing fabric, see here.) You need to know that the fibres will not shrink any further once they are in the quilt. This process also gives you a chance to check that all the fabrics are colour-fast and won’t bleed in the future when the quilt is washed. Here is the piece of pre-washed fabric (it’s my design ‘Micro-organisms’ available here).

The quilt needs ninety-six 2⅞” x 2⅞” squares of fabric. Here is how to cut them quickly. A fat quarter of fabric (approximately 21 x 18″) is a good size to use for this cutting method.

Given that there is a ragged edge on the side of this fat quarter of fabric, the first task is to use a long quilter’s ruler to trim off the edge. Cut the right-hand edge (if you are left-handed you will trim the left-hand edge). This ruler, by Omnigrid is 6″ wide by 24″ long – a very useful size. (For more information on choosing a quilter’s ruler, look at the ‘Quilting Rulers Guide’ here.)

Then turn the fabric round and begin to cut the fabric into strips, each 2⅞” x 2⅞” wide, moving the quilter’s ruler across by 2⅞”after each strip is cut.

Cutting a two and seven-eighths inch strip from 'Micro-organisms' fabric by Amanda Jane Textiles, using a quilter's ruler and rotary cutter

Next, trim off the ragged edge at the top of the strips, without moving any of the strips. Please note: I always recommend cutting away from you with the rotary cutter, but this is an exception. Take care!

Then rotate the cutting mat 90 degrees to the left (left-handers: rotate right), without changing the position of any of the strips. Cover all the rows of strips with the quilter’s ruler 2⅞” from the cut edge and cut. It is possible to cut six of these at a time if you are working with a fat quarter.

When the first column of squares has been cut, move them slightly to one side (as seen in the photo below) and set your ruler to 2⅞” from the new cut edge, without moving the position of any of the horizontal strips. Cut again. Continue like this across the fabric until you have enough squares.

The pattern also calls for 3½ x 2½” oblongs of the same fabric. These can be cut using exactly the same method. Here (in the photo below) the 3½” strips have already been cut. Then the mat was turned a quarter turn and the ruler is set at 3½” to cut on repeat across the strips.

This is such a useful way to cut multiple small shapes quickly. It is not wise to try to cut pieces of fabric several layers thick (on top of one another), as the cut is less likely to be accurate. By this method, you can see every shape you are cutting all the time.

Finally, make sure that you have sharp blade in your rotary cutter, so you never have to make more than one pass with the rotary cutter. This also speeds up the cutting.

If you missed the post about the pattern, here is ‘Starstruck’. You can buy it here.

The pattern cover for the new 'Starstruck' pattern from Amanda Jane Textiles

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here and classes here

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am a quilt-maker, designer, writer and teacher.

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