How to Cut Fabric
for Quilting

As a beginner, you need to know how to cut fabric for quilting. Follow these easy steps to get a straight edge, cut strips and more.

Unpressed yard of fabricunpressed yard of fabric

Cutting fabric is fundamental to quilting! We need to cut large pieces of fabric straight, square fabric, cut quilt squares, fabric strips and a bunch of other stuff.

We need to become acquainted with things like a rotary cutter, scissors, grain of fabric - and of course we want to do it accurately. :-)

We'll learn it all! Read on...

First up is how to get a straight edge on fabric. This is very basic to quilting. Almost every cut you make stems from having a straight edge.

But, almost all fabric has some wrinkles or creases, even if it's just the crease from the fold.

In the picture above you see a yard of fabric folded in half laying on my cutting mat. They cut this yard from a bolt - about 15 yards - of fabric.

It has creases and wrinkles. Not so good for an accurate cut.

But this is what happens when fabric is folded and shipped or purchased from a local quilt shop and stored for some time before using it.

So, how do you square up that first strip of fabric from a yardage cut?

No worries. We can fix this!

How to Get a Straight Edge on Fabric

Step 1 First, make sure that your fabric is free of wrinkles and creases by pressing it.

Yard of fabric on cutting mat. Step 1 Press.pressed yard of fabric on cutting mat

You do not have to wash the fabric first, but you may choose to do so. Wash or not, press it using a hot iron and no steam.

Instead of steam, use starch or a starch alternative product.

I use Mary Ellen's Best Press (TM) -  The Clear Starch and Sizing Alternative.

Simply spray it onto your fabric and press.

Step 2 Fold the piece of fabric in half lengthwise. Bring the fold up to the selvage edges.

Step 2 Fold fabric in half lengthwise. Bring the fold up to the selvage edges.

Here's a close up of where the first fold of fabric was brought up to the selvage edges.

See the four layers of fabric? To get to the next step of cutting strips, we need to first get these edges straight.

Step 2 Close up

How to Cut Fabric Straight with a Rotary Cutter

Step 3 Align the folded edge of fabric with a horizontal measurement line on your cutting mat.

Align a horizontal measurement line of a rotary cutting ruler along the folded edge of the fabric.

To make handling the fabric more manageable, you can fold the left edge of the fabric yardage lack onto itself.

Step 3 Align fold with horizontal measurement line on cutting mat. Align ruler measurement line along fold.

Here's a close-up of the folded edge of the fabric and ruler aligned as stated above.

Step 3 Close-up: Fold aligned with horizontal measurement line on cutting mat. Ruler aligned along fold.

Step 4 Using a rotary cutter, cut the fabric along the long edge of the ruler.

Viola, we have our straight edge!!! We just completed our first step in how to cut fabric for quilting! Whoohoo!

Step 4 Cut the fabric along the edge of the ruler.

And that's how to get a straight edge on fabric. See, to cut fabric for quilting is easy!

To cut strips from this yardage you only need a straight edge on one end of the fabric.

How to Cut Fabric for Quilting

Step 5 If you want a straight edge along the second edge of the fabric repeat Steps 3 and 4 on that edge.

If you're right-handed you may need to first turn the fabric so that the uncut edge is on the right side of the cutting mat. Of course, if you're left-handed you'll want the uncut edge on the left side of the cutting mat in order to cut it.

Straight Edges Cut on Yardage for Quilting

Simply flip your fabric 180 degrees so that the uncut edge is on the right, if you're right-handed, or on the left, if you're left-handed.

Or, simply move to the opposite side of your cutting table and repeat Steps 3 and 4.

Video: How to Get a Straight Edge

Watch this video that shows what we've covered above on how to get a straight edge on fabric using rulers.

The author of the video does some of the techniques a little differently, but that's okay. It's just another way of doing things.

Cutting Fabric For Quilting

Now, your next step is to cut strips from the fabric. Let's see how to cut strips for quilting.

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