With Karen’s blocks sewn and waiting in the wings, it’s time to add the sashing strips and cornerstones.
But first, a bit more about cutting. First some fabric basics that you may or may not already know from previous sewing experience.
Quilting cottons are woven from tiny threads. That means the fabric will be more stretchy (along the crosswise grain–from one selvage to the other) or less stretchy (along the lengthwise grain–along the selvage). You can even see this property when the selvage isn’t present, as with this square of scrap fabric. Hold the fabric on two sides and give it a little pull. If it feels pretty firm and doesn’t give, that’s the lengthwise grain.
No stretch=lengthwise grain.
A little stretch=crosswise grain. (Can you see a little big of give in the fabric where my thumbs are pulling toward the outside edge)
All this stretchy-ness stuff may not seem like a big deal at this stage. Who cares, right?
The blocks Karen has been working on are sewn together from pieces. Just by looking at them, you can’t tell which side of each piece is stretchy or not stretchy. And for the smaller pieces, it really doesn’t matter. But as you add longer, skinny pieces, the stretchy-ness can work against you as you sew. So, when it’s possible, it’s a good habit (not a required habit) to cut sashing pieces along the less stretchy length of grain of the fabric.
Our pattern, is written to cut strips along the cross-wise grain of the fabric from a fat quarter, which isn’t a problem and, in this case, it’s more economical. But since Karen is planning to make a second larger quilt from her blocks, it could be beneficial for her to cut her sashing strips along the lengthwise grain.
Let’s see how, with the tools we already have.
First, we’ll cut the sashing strips from a fat quarter.
Fold the fabric in half, so the selvage edge and the cut edge of the fat quarter are at top of the cutting mat, and the fold is at the bottom.
Like before, align one of the horizontal lines at the bottom end of the ruler with the fold at the bottom of the fat quarter; at the same time align the 2″ vertical line on the ruler so you will cut a little more than the 2″ strip you’ll need for the sashing pieces. Cut, tummy and away.
Rotate the strip 90˚, then cut the strip a little more than 9″ long. Rotate the ruler too!
Rotate the strip 180˚, so you can trim the other end. . .
. . . so the sashing is exactly 2×9″ – by the way, by cutting through two layers of fabric, we cut two sashing strips at once! Keep cutting sashing strips until you have exactly how many you need according to the First Timer Table Topper pattern.
Above, the sashing strips were cut along the crosswise grain.
Now, let’s cut more strips, for Karen’s second quilt project (she’s planning to make two!), but we’ll cut these so the long side of the sashing strip follows the less-stretchy lengthwise grain.
First, let’s figure out how many sashing strips we’ll need for a quilt made from nine blocks. A quick sketch tells us we need twenty-four. (And 16 cornerstones.)
First, fold about 1/2 yard of sashing fabric twice. make sure the folds are parallel. In the photo below, the corners are folded down temporarily so you can see the layers. Fold the fabric so you can clearly see both folds, then place a ruler on top. The fold at the top and bottom should align with two horizontal lines on the ruler. Since we know the lines on the ruler are parallel, the folds should also be parallel.
Since you’ll be cutting a 9″ strip, and your ruler is only 6-1/2″ wide, we need to improvise a bit. Rotate the ruler 90˚ and make a small cut at the bottom fold to mark a little more than 9″ from the left edge.
Now, rotate the ruler back 90˚ so you can now cut across the fabric, fold to fold. Remember to align the bottom fold of the fabric with a horizontal line toward the bottom of the ruler. And make sure you are spot-on with the little snip you made at the fold.
Now let’s true-up the strip so it’s exactly 9″ wide. Rotate the fabric–be careful not to disturb the layers–and rotate the ruler again so you can measure exactly 9″ from the newly trimmed end.
Make another nick in the fabric at the bottom fold. . . and cut. You now have a strip 9″ wide.
Rotate the newly cut sashing strip, and true it up to 2″ wide.
Continue in this manner until you have twenty-four 2×9″ sashing strips. You should be able to get 20 sashing strips from the 9″ cut. Based on a standard width of fabric off the bolt which is about 41-42″ So you will need to cut one more strip to cut the last four strips you’ll need. To save fabric, cut those last four sashing pieces from one 2″ width-of-fabric strip. So, four of the 24 strips will be a little bit more stretchy than the others.
You see? Sometimes it’s good to make an exception.
Next post, we’ll sew again. That’s always the fun part!