Sunday, October 8, 2017

Star Kisses Sew-Along - Week 1

Hello!  Welcome to Week 1 of the Star Kisses Sew-Along!  I’m really glad you could join us.  I’ve been itching to start this quilt for weeks and I’m so excited to finally get started! To see the full schedule, check out the Sew-Along page.  If you haven’t already purchased your pattern, you can do so at Woodberry Way.

Week 1 is all about cutting.  I like to get all of my cutting out of the way at the beginning.  It’s usually not my favorite part, so the sooner I get that done, the sooner I can start sewing! 

First, grab your fat quarters (and fat eighths if you have them), and let’s get started!  I’m using 12 red and green fat quarters by Bonnie and Camille for a Christmas quilt.  My first Star Kisses quilt used a variety of colors and used more than 12 fabrics.  


When cutting fat quarters, I always stack several at once.  Why make the same cuts more often than absolutely necessary?  I can usually cut 4-6 layers at once without any issues.  If I have a new, really sharp blade, I might try more.  For this quilt, I divided my 12 FQs into 3 stacks of 4.  
Cut multiple fat quarters at once.
If you are only using 12 fat quarters, make sure you cut very carefully!  Study the diagram in the pattern.  There is very little waste and no room for error!  This is very important if your FQs are barely 18” wide.  You need 17.5” of usable fabric.  I’ve found that some fat quarters are very generous with their width, but some are not even quite a full 18 inches, especially if they are cut crooked.  The factory-cut bundles in particular seem to be stingy.  Keep that in mind when trimming your first clean edge.  
As you’re cutting your pieces, I recommend dividing the smallest squares into two equal piles.  When you are stacking up your pieces as you cut them, you can put half in one stack and half in another.  This will come in handy next week when we start sewing the blocks.  
Divide smallest squares into two equal piles.

Once you have all the fat quarters cut, it’s time to cut the background fabric.  Often, background fabric is cut into strips and then subcut into multiple smaller squares or rectangles.  The first thing I always do is determine how many pieces I can get from each strip.  Some patterns will tell you how many you can get from each strip. 

If I’m lucky, it will be an even number.  This means that I can get an equal number of pieces from both halves of the strip, and I will not have to cut a piece that crosses the fold.  In other words, I could theoretically cut each strip in half before I subcut, and the end result would be the same. 

Why is that so helpful?  Well, I’m sure most of us were taught that the cut edge of our fabric must be perpendicular, or be at a 90-degree angle to the folded edge when cutting.  Otherwise, you end up with the dreaded “V” when you open the strip up.  Sometimes, achieving this 90-degree angle is not as easy as it sounds.  Sometimes the fabric  just became really crooked when put on the bolt.  Often, you will need to occasionally “re-adjust” and clean up your straight edge as you go.  This takes times and wastes fabric.  This can be a problem if the pattern doesn’t leave much leeway with the yardage requirements. 

If you are cutting an even number of pieces, you can ignore the fold!  Essentially pretend it isn’t even there!  Think of your folded strip as two separate pieces of fabric stacked together for cutting.  Ignoring the fold allows you to focus on cutting straight, accurate strips along the cut edges without having to waste time or fabric by readjusting every few strips.  
The fold will be cut off and discarded.
Ignoring the fold also allows you to fold your piece of yardage over on itself, fold to fold and selvage to selvage.  Technically, you could do this even when the fold does matter, but I never feel comfortable with not being able to see the bottom layer when cutting.  By doing this, you can cut twice as many strips in the same amount of time.  Some patterns call for a LOT of background strips, so this can save a ton of time!
Fold the fabric on itself and cut two strips at once.

Luckily, all of the subcutting in this pattern requires an even number of pieces per strip, so go ahead and give these tips a try!

You can also go ahead and cut your borders and binding strips, if you’d like.  I did not cut mine because I haven’t decided what I want to use yet!   For these, the fold does matter since the strips will need to be the full width of the fabric.  Make sure you are lining up both the cut edge and the folded edge with the lines on your ruler to ensure a 90-degree angle. 

If you are sewing along on Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #starkissessewalong so that others can see your progress!  Spend the next week getting all of your cutting done, and meet me back here next Sunday as we start to piece the blocks!

Until next time,

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