Good morning, Rockstar! It's me, HollyAnne Knight of String & Story, and it's my job to guide you to quilt and live with confidence! Today, I want to walk you through a simple process - I say simple because it turned out to be a lot easier than I expected, but it was something that seemed quite daunting when I first began using my AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter. Let's talk about how to organize and prepare yardage for cutting with the AccuQuilt.
If you were here when I unboxed my AccuQuilt GO! (Check out that post here if you missed it), then I showed you the basics of using the AccuQuilt.
It's one thing to line up some squares or scraps and happily chop them up into gorgeous, ready to sew units, but what the heck do you do with a big ol' pile of yardage that is entirely too big in every way to fit through the AccuQuilt?
Don't worry, babe, I've got you.
It's really just three steps:
1) Organize & Make a Plan
3) Final Cuts & Off You Go!
Let's take a look at this step by step. After all, being able to gather fabric per a pattern's yardage requirements and cut that yardage down as efficiently and accurately as possible is the magic fairy dust of the AccuQuilt.
Organize & Make a Plan
Grab yourself a piece of paper-- we're going to take some notes, okay? First, separate your fabric by color and get out the dies you will need for each color. If you're not sure how to choose dies to make a designer quilt, check out Emily's awesome post here. Throughout this post, I'll be working on my Star Island quilt (pictured toward the top), so if you want to play a little matchy-matchy with me, you can get the pattern here.
Now we have several smaller piles or cuts of fabric, each with a die or two on top. This is where the paper comes in.
For each color/cut of fabric, make a few notes. Write down:
1) The die/shape you'll be cutting with that fabric
2) The dimensions of the cutting area of the die (where the blades are) + ¼ inch all the way around (you could go as fine as ⅛ inch if any waste at all breaks you out in hives, but about ¼ inch means there's some wiggle room for both your subcutting and how you lay the fabrics on the die)
3) Next, write down how many of each shape you nee. For example, if you needed 50 blue and yellow half square triangles and you can cut two HSTs out of each square, then you'll need 25 squares each of blue and yellow. If, however, you need 50 tri-recs/triangle in a square units, then you'll need 50 blue squares and 50 yellow rectangles). This bit of math takes a few minutes, but it makes it a lot easier to subcut exactly what you need
4) Bonus: If you want to really do yourself a favor, count up how many of each unit you can cut with each pass of the AccuQuilt, assuming six layers of fabric. Usually it's six, but sometimes it's more. For example, using a quarter square triangle die (which has four triangles on the die board) to cut flying geese yields 24 goose bodies.
Okay, the hardest part is over, I promise. The math takes a few minutes, but it makes the rest of this so much easier.
To subcut, take the die measurement you wrote down earlier, and cut, using a ruler and rotary cutter, the number of squares you need for each die. This is not the time to obsess about whether or not your ruler is placed properly down to the thread. Cut quickly (but safely). To give you an idea of how quickly this should move, I reduced a pile of yardage to the pieces for 48 flying geese in about a half hour this weekend. Be zippy-- a few threads off is totally irrelevant for this step.
Final Cuts & Off You Go!
Now, the fun part! Load up each of those dies and slice, slice, slice!
There are two ways to do this:
1) Slice and sew- cut one die-ful at a time and sew it right away. This is my favorite for units like half square triangles where putting the fabrics right sides together on the die makes them easy to peel up and feed straight through the machine without additional fiddling.
2) Chop chop!- do allll the cutting first, then start assembling. If you're doing this with a whole quilt (or most of a quilt) worth of units, I suggest a tray of some sort to keep things organized and labeled. I go this route with units like triangle in a squares and flying geese since they require some manipulation before assembling anyway.
That's it, Rockstars! In three steps, we've reduced that big ol' pile of fabric to ready to stitch units. You're going to have that quilt together in no time!
As a little teaser, here's the first block of the Star Island quilt I'm making. Don't forget that you can get a copy of the pattern here. It's PERFECT for cutting with your AccuQuilt!