Cutting Fabric forQuilting

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Using a rotary cutter to cut quilt fabric is fast and easier than cutting freehand.

The fun of making a quilt is creating one big piece of fabric out of a bunch of little pieces of fabric. That's why cutting out your pieces is such an important part of the process.

After you've used a template to mark your fabric for quilting, cut around each piece with sharp fabric scissors.


In many cases, it is faster and easier to cut fabric using a rotary cutter. This tool, which looks and works like a pizza cutter, must be used with a self-healing mat and a see-through ruler. Always employ the safety shield of the rotary cutter when it is not in use.

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise with the selvages together. Adjust one side until the fabric hangs straight. The line that is created by the fold is parallel to the fabric's straight of grain. Keeping this fold in place, lay the fabric on the mat. Place a see-through ruler on the fabric. Align a grid line on the ruler with the fold and trim the uneven edge. Apply steady, even pressure to the rotary cutter and to the ruler to keep them and the fabric from shifting. Do not let the cutter get farther away from you than the hand that is holding the ruler. Stop cutting and reposition your hand.

Reposition the ruler so that it covers the width of the strip to be cut and the trimmed edge is on the markings for the appropriate measurement on the ruler.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. A see-through ruler will help you to cut fabric accurately.

After cutting the strip, hold it up to make sure it is straight. If it is angled, refold the fabric and trim it again. Continue cutting strips, checking frequently that the strips are straight.


Not what you're looking for? Try:

  • Learn tips on how to best use a quilt template to mark fabric on our Marking Fabric for Quilting page.
  • Before you begin a quilting project, it's best to take the time on the front end and complete quilting prep work. Learn more on our Quilting Preparation page.
  • Learn How to Quilt or brush up on the basics with our refresher course.