Basics Tutorial: Squaring Fabric

Posted on November 24th, by Amy in Tutorial. 34 comments

All the patterns say “Square Your Fabric” but what does it mean!? Often when it has been cut in a shop, it comes to you less than straight, and before you can easily use your rotary cutter you need to get a straight edge to work with!

This piece had some extra funky folds in it, looked like they had been on the bolt that way too – makes it a great example!
1. Press your fabric. I like to use lots of spray starch, any old spray starch I can find on sale.
2. Fold your fabric, selvage to selvage. In the picture above there is a bubble in the fold at the bottom.
3. Adjust your selvage edges until the fold lays flat. Use your fingers to scoot them one way or the other until it is happy.

4. Lay it down and get prepared to make a cut. Notice that the cut edges are NOT together.
5. I’m using home dec fabric that is 60″ wide so I need to fold a second time, usually not the case unless your cutting mat or ruler is smaller.
6. Line up your folded edge along a straight line on your cutting mat. Again, the cut edges are not lined up perfectly.

7. Check the depth, that you need to cut in order to have a continuous straight edge.
8. Bring on the ruler, and cut. Your fabric should be lined up straight on the bottom folded edge, and your ruler should be matched up with the grid lines.
9. You should have a nice edge to begin cutting your quilt pieces!
Because I’m sure someone will ask – Denyse Schmidt’s County Fair has been used in this tutorial, and I will be able to share this little project when it is completed!! No telling when that will be though :)

I hope that helps someone! Anyone have something to add?


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34 thoughts on “Basics Tutorial: Squaring Fabric

  1. I am a complete novice in sewing so this may be a silly question but in the second to last picture, the left side isn't even either so did you do the same thing to the other side and make that even as well? Or is there a reason that it doesn't matter?

    Love the fabric by the way! :)

  2. Jacquie – If I'm cutting strips or squares I usually don't! There's no need to square the other side unless you are cutting a big square, just work with the one straight edge.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks so much for your quick response! That makes complete sense :)

    I am in the middle of my first ever sewing project and already have dozens more lined up that I want to try. Quick/useful tips like this are just what I'm looking for :)

    Thanks again for this great tutorial!

  4. I've never done the double-fold technique, before, but I don't use the extra-wide widths.

    I single fold, selvage-to-selvage, and align a ruler line to the fold, then cut to square up. Always keep in mind that your fabric is only squared up for the distance that your ruler is. So, if you use a 6" ruler, you have to re-square every 6".

  5. Sue – Pre-washing fabric is a matter of personal choice. I opt not to, but there are a few reasons to pre-wash, like shrinkage and sizing allergies. I believe shrinking varies with the quality of cottons, and to avoid allergic reactions, I wash my quilts as soon as they are finished! If I am sewing a garment – I always pre-wash.

  6. Looks great! It took me so long to figure out how to do that, and for some reason it kind of scared me too. What I like to do when I'm done is unfold it and lay my ruler along the cut where I'd had it folded to make sure it really, really is straight. :D

  7. Great Demo! I learned this in HomeEc back in 1960. I don't think they even teach this anymore. Good for you for taking the time to do this.

    ttfn :) Yuki Nakamoto

  8. This is exactly how I do it, too. But it's so frustrating to see inches of beautiful, expensive fabric wasted. At my LQS (and even the local chain stores), if you ask for 1/2 yard, they cut 18" and not one mm more. Once it's squared up, I rarely have more than 16" of usable space. Very frustrating when a pattern calls for 18" strips or 3 – 6" blocks, etc. Any tips on how to handle this?? Do you just buy more?? A few more inches per fabric x 10+ fabrics per quilt really adds up quickly.

  9. That is what I usually do myself. Since I buy white cotton in bolts, I find that tearing it off instead of cutting give a more or less even edge.

  10. I have that same fabric–in orange! It's beautiful quality fabric too. That is one thing that helps with the "offset" of the edges and waste. Thanks for spelling it out so well.

  11. Wendy: I ALWAYS buy more fabric than the pattern calls for. I also wash my fabric before I cut. By buying more fabric, I don't have to worry about shrinkage after I've sewn my project. I also remove the sizing and other chemicals that make me sneeze. Buying extra removes the stress of not having enough, allows for cutting mistakes (which I'm sure NEVER happens to anyone but me), allows me to have more of that fabric if I fall in love with it while I'm working with it (which is always one week after the shop sold the last of that fabric), and builds up my stash of scraps for that scrap quilt that I'll be making soon! I even have a plan! Sure, extra fabric can add up, but stress should not be a part of our sewing or quilting projects.

  12. Thank you for sharing this!! I have been needed to see this again! I just started quilting and am still learning everything!! Thanks again!

  13. Thanks for this awesome tutorial. My Grandmother brought me up quilting, but I rarely got to see the technical end of things, being a small child, and later a disinterested teen. This has been most helpful! Your quilts are wonderful, by the way :)

  14. Pingback: From Fat Quarters to Cloth Napkins « Freckles and Sunshine

  15. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve found that I need very explicit step by step photos to learn a new technique and your post gave me the information I need to be able to cut straight strips with my rotary cutter. Now to go try cutting straight strips without the dip!

  16. Great tutorial and comments. Now how do you square up the pieced blocks? I am new to quilting and need pointers. Thanks.

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