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How to Cut Quilting Cotton

New to quilting? Are you wondering how to cut quilting cotton? I will be discussing two ways in which you can prepare and cut quilting cotton for quilting projects.

What is Quilting Cotton, and Why Does it Matter?

Quilting cotton is perfect for sewing a quilt. It is a high-thread-count fabric made with woven cotton fibers. Quilting cottons are made in different thread counts. Thread counts are not usually shown on the bolt of fabric. The best way to tell is by holding the fabric up to the light: if you can easily see through it, then it is most likely a low thread count. When you cut the quilting cotton you have different options on what to use and you may find that you prefer one method over the other.

How to Cut Quilting Cotton with Scissors 

Prepare Materials

Gather the materials listed below. 

  • Fabric scissors
  • Fabric pencil/chalk
  • Quilters ruler
  • Quilting cotton

Prewash the fabric to remove chemicals that are used in the factory, preshrink fabric and to see if the fabric may discharge any color. I personally prefer to prewash before cutting to avoid any surprises after finishing my quilt. The choice is yours. It is also good practice to iron out the wrinkles in your fabric to ensure accurate cutting.  

Lining up the quilting cotton

Use a sturdy surface like a table. Then fold the quilting cotton matching the selvedge (label info: brand, artist or fabric line) edges of the fabric. Use the quilting ruler and a fabric pencil or chalk to draw a straight line.

Cut the fabric

I am right handed and use my left hand to hold the fabric in  place. Cut the fabric on the line that was drawn with the fabric pencil. The fabric now has an even edge and you can use the quilting ruler and pencil to mark the size shape you wish to cut.

How to Cut Quilting Cotton with a Rotary Cutter 

Prepare Materials

You will need to gather a few materials in order to use the rotary cutter method. 

  • Rotary cutter
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Quilters ruler
  • Quilting cotton

Prewash and iron the fabric before cutting as recommend above. 

Lining up the quilting cotton

Make sure you place the self-healing cutting mat on top of a sturdy surface like a table. Then fold the quilting cotton so that the selvedges (label info: brand, artist or fabric line) meet and the fabric is even. Then place the selvedges aligned with a horizontal line on the cutting mat. Next make sure that you have a little of the fabric on the right side lined up on top of a vertical line. You want to have an even edge and the best way is to cut the fabric using the vertical line as a guide.

Lining up the quilters ruler and cutting

Grab your ruler and place it on top of the fabric on the far right that is covering the vertical line on the mat. Make sure that you are cutting enough fabric to have an even edge. Check that the bottom of the ruler is lined up with one of the horizontal lines on the mat. I am right handed and use my left hand to hold the ruler, so it does not shift while I cut. I make sure my fingers are to the left of the ruler, so that they are not near the rotary cutter blade when cutting. This ensure I have a straight cut and I keep my fingers safe. 

I hold the rotary cutter in my right hand and move the black lever down to expose the blade. (Check your rotary cutter brand and type as exposing the blade for cutting may be different). Then cut the fabric by placing the rotary cutter close to the ruler edge and press down while cutting.

Fabric is cut and you now have a straight edge

When you are done cutting push the black lever up to have the safety cover back on the rotary blade. It is good practice to cover the blade before setting it down on the table. Remove the fabric you cut off to right side and now you have an even edge. You can now start cutting the size fabric you project calls for as you have an even edge to work with.

Using scissors or a rotary cutter

How you choose to cut the quilting cotton is up to you. If you have fabric scissors you don’t need a mat and can have the blades resharpen when they become dull. If you use a rotary cutter you will need a self healing mat and will need to buy new replacement blades. Many quilter prefer to use the rotary cutter because the fabric is moved less and cutting is faster. Both methods work and I recommend trying both out and seeing which you prefer. 

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