Friday, May 20, 2011

There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat...Uh, I Mean A Quilt

I did a post Thursday about how to rotary cut quilt squares. From some of the comments that were left and emails that were sent to me personally...I just wanted to clear up a few things, especially about the grain of the fabric.

This is how I cut my squares. I took one quilting class 15 years ago. I was the only person who signed up for the class, so I had a lot of one on one time with the quilt instructor. This is how she taught me. Is there another way to cut fabric squares or betcha!!! I'm sure there are Sew Many Ways to cut fabric! (sorry, couldn't resist) There are probably more ways than we can think of. However, at the end of the day, our fabric is cut, sewed together and we all have a beautiful quilt to keep or give away.

I quilt for my family or for gifts...mostly baby gifts. The people who receive my quilts have no clue what the grain of the fabric is. All they see is something made from the heart and I hope something beautiful.

Is the grain of fabric important? Maybe to some, but not me. I always cut yardage the way I showed in the tutorial, which is pretty close to cutting on the grain...I know not precise, but that's ok for me. I will probably never enter a quilt in a quilt show...never have enough confidence for that! I love scrap quilts and using up bits and pieces. Do I have the time to figure out the "exact" grain of the fabric on a piece of scrap material? Nope. I just want to sew and get that top finished.

My mind goes back to the past and how women would cut up feed sacks to make those gorgeous 1930's quilts or how they cut up worn out clothing to make the best scrap quilts ever. Were they thinking about the grain of the fabric? I think I was born in the wrong time period.

My thoughts also go to Bonnie Hunter from who is the scrap quilt queen in my eyes. She uses everything from shirts she finds in thrift stores to scraps that are sent to her from other quilters. I just love her scrap quilts! She is such an inspiration.

When it comes down to it, among the millions of quilters in this big world...professional to newbie...we are innately the same. Our destination in life is to create, sew and make something that speaks to the heart. We all just take a different path to get there.

Hope you have a wonderful day and can sneak some sewing time in there too,


  1. A title about skinning cats and a post about rotary cutters... this sounds messy, dangerous, and a little creepy to me, haha.

    Seriously tho, I appreciate your post. I like hearing how people do things their way so that by comparing all of their ways, I can figure out what I want "my way" to be. Its art and an individual craft, there is no right way, just lots of interesting ways that can help us find a way that works best for us :)

  2. If I worried that much about the grain of the fabric in my quilts, I would never sew again.

  3. I always love to see your techniques and ideas. I have learned so much from your blog...thanks! I cut up all my squares last night. I counted an recounted but just to be sure, I threw in a few extras. They will be on their way very soon.

  4. LOL! Popping my squares in the mail to you on Monday when I go into town...added a few extra just for good measure and left the cat out. Grin. So looking forward to this swap! Thank you!

  5. Your method was how I just did my first quilt top, and I am extremely proud of it. I don't know if checking the grain would have made that big of a difference. It is interesting to hear all the methods. What is the main benefit for cutting on the grain? Less stretch, no unraveling strings, or alignment of pattern? Love learning about this wonderful quilting world! :)

  6. Thank you! There are more than one way to do things. I always worry about doing things right; but, lately, I've decided to do the best I can! It doesn't matter because I never sell my stuff anyway. Family mostly enjoy my efforts. :-)

  7. I've been dressmaking for almost 50 yrs and quilting for 2 yrs... I can't see how fabric grain in quilts would make much difference tho I do see how it would make a difference in dressmaking/tailoring.

    Maybe a wall hanging type quilt... but not the ordinary "throw on the bed" or "snuggle under" quilt...

    I don't have a problem with sewing on the bias or even circular cuts. I suppose if that is an issue for someone, maybe grain would be more important; however, your tutorial would work just fine and be plenty close enough!

  8. Don't let the critical ones bother you, Karen. Your tute was fine, now let's get to cutting and sewing, & quilting. Great job!

  9. Eeeeew, icky! Now Karen's going to show us how to skin cats. Gross! But as long as this new feature does not take the place of Tool Time Tuesdays, it's ok with me!

    I'm with you on the grain cutting issue. There will never be any judges looking at my quilts, but they will all be used and loved to death! Who cares if the pieces were not cut on the grain? Not me!

    The log cabin quilt that I recently finished (and is featured over a Quiltstory today) was made by ripping all the fabric. If you look closely at the pictures, you can see that the design on the fabric pieces is all wonky, precisely because it was ripped with the grain! Still I love it, and I love ripping fabric, but mostly I cut my fabric almost exactly the way you showed.


  10. Great post, great tutorial! No worries.

  11. I studied fashion design 25 years ago instead of going to a traditional 4 year college and I have to say I agree completely with what Impera_Magna had to say. Tearing fabric is very important in dress making but not in quilting. The reason why this subject is always a hot button topic is because dress makers may also quilt and tend to bring with them habits from dress making, dosen't mean it is right or wrong just means that there is many ways to make a quilt and that there is no wrong way of doing something as long as you are happy with the outcome. Also another thing to think about is that when you tear fabric you end up damaging the the fibers along the edge and also end up wasting fabric to get it back into alignment with the true grain. So if you plan on tearing please make sure you purchase more than needed in order to compensate.

  12. Hi, Karen,
    My mom always used that saying...
    "there's more than one way to skin a cat" ...and we were all cat lovers!!

    Thank you for posting the tutorial. I am hoping that now that school is out, I can experiment with quilting.

    Take care ~Natalie

  13. I completely agree with Impera Magna. Grain for garments, important - I don't think so much for quilts. I can understand if someone is using designer fabric and a directional print, they may want to use a different method. But as you mentioned in your post, quilts were historically made from scrappy items for primarily utilitarian purposes, grain was not a concern. Thank you for showing us how you do it.

  14. i missed the first post where this one transpired from, but i know some people that cut with their pieces under the ruler, and others that but using the lines on the mat and the fabric pieces they want next to the ruler, i was taught one way, but prefer the other....there is no right way or wrong way to do any of it. as long as it makes what you want it to in the end, and hopefully you had a happy journey to get there too.,

  15. Love this post Karen, hope you are having a wonderful day, and keep away from the cats!!!

  16. Grain??? Have never worried about in any of my quilts nor do I intend to. My quilts are made with love and are meant to be loved.
    Each of us have our methods of doing things and I recommend doing whatever works for you!


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