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A good night’s sleep helps. Now back to the task at hand. The number of strips has been determined. Now it is time to see how efficiently I can get them cut.
As with just about everything with quilting there are several different ways to accomplish any task. When you are cutting strips the first thing most of us think of is to simply take our rotary cutter and ruler and just repetitively make the cuts. Some people are confident enough to layer multiple fabrics and cut a number of strips at once. Others prefer to ensure accuracy and just do one strip at a time. The key to rotary cutting is to use your ruler to achieve an accurate measurement, not your cutting mat. One issue with cutting mats is developing ruts due to overuse. If you routinely use the same lines on the mat to cut specific sizes (example 2.5″, 5″, 7.5″ etc.) the repetitive motion will, over time cut grooves into the best self-healing mat. This falls under the category of ‘Ask me how I know’.
I have also found that covering the strip to be cut off with my ruler ensures that if my rotary cutter veers off course and I create a miscut I can clean up the mistake without having ruined the piece that I need for my project. For this project I need 98 strips. That is a lot of rotary cutting and potentially a fair amount of minor variation in the strip width depending upon how accurately I cut the strips. I do have another option.
Die cutting strips is a very efficient means of rapidly producing a large number of uniform pieces very quickly. We have a Sizzix Big Shot Pro at the shop which I will use to cut lots of strips simultaneously. Using the 2-1/2″ strip die I can cut 4 strips across and up to 8 layers. Since I am working with fat quarters I will cut the 6 strips that I need from the light fabrics by folding the fabric back onto itself. I will cut 3 fat quarters at a time. There will be some waste, but being a generally frugal person (at least where my fabric is concerned) I will save the leftover piece for a future project. Also, while I could cut 4 fat quarters at a time, due to the way I was layering them I simply decided to only do three. Mathematically it also worked out well. I did one FQ to test how I wanted to cut them. Once I was confidant about my approach and layering I was able to do three sets of three light FQs to get the light strips I needed. With the light sets done I moved on to the medium and darks.
As I only planned to cut 4 strips of each of the medium and dark fabrics I layered my FQs and used my rotary cutter to precut the larger strip that I would put through my die cutter. With the stack set to go I cut 24 strips in one quick pass.
I know, the math doesn’t add up to the required 98 strips. Several of the original pieces (including the focus fabric) are not fat quarters. Those pieces I individually rotary cut rather than try to first get them to a size that was uniform with my FQs. Sometimes it is just easier and faster to manage exceptions on a case by case basis rather than try to get them to fit a preconceived mold.
Now that my strips are all cut, I will be assembling them into 4 fabric sets. Tune in tomorrow for a full report on how that went and see what choices were made to balance the colors, prints and shades!