Just in case you haven’t noticed, I use a LOT of Moda precuts. I’ve designed many patterns using them, so I get lots of questions and e-mails about them. I thought I would make today’s post about the most frequently asked questions from my customers.
1. What’s a precut ?-
Precuts are : Cut and bundled fabric packs made by fabric companies like Moda, for example. They contain coordinated pieces from one fabric line and come in many different options. My favorites are:
A. Charms – 5″ squares, one from every print in the fabric line
B. Jelly Rolls – 40 – 2 1/2″ x 44″ strips
C. Layer Cakes – 42 – 10″ squares
D. Fat Quarters – 18″ x 21″ pieces
There are others now too, including Honeybuns, Turnovers, etc. I just have not had a chance to work with them.
2. What’s the point of buying a precut?
I have several reasons why I love to use them. Here’s the short list:
A. It “cuts” down on the cutting time – It saves me time so I can get to the fun (sewing ) part quicker. Imagine going over to your stash, cutting 40 -2 1/2″ strips, then folding all the fabric up and putting it away again. It would take hours! I just buy a jelly roll and all that work is done. It’s a huge time saver!
B. It’s an economical way to collect many different fabric lines. For example, if you buy a charm back, you get a little something of the ENTIRE line, for under $10. Years ago, you could easily spend $100 on a fat quarter pack to be able to collect a piece from everything in the line.
C. It helps me with my color coordination. I hear from so many people that they struggle with picking out colors. With a precut pack, all that color coordinating is already done for you!
D. I love collecting fabric as much as I love sewing.
3. Do I need to wash them?
NO. If you try to wash these small bits of fabric, they will become distorted, misshapen, and wrinkled. I think that fabrics have improved so much in the past years, that you don’t really need to pre wash any more. You used to have to wash out the excess sizing, excess dye and preshrink them to avoid them shrinking when you pressed. I just don’t think that is the case anymore. The fabrics have a great feel, I have never had one bleed, and I don’t have any problems with shrinkage, even when I steam. (**Please note that this is not a guarantee that you won’t have bleeding. If I was making a red and white quilt, for example, I would wash the reds. I just wouldn’t trust that situation.)
4. If the pattern calls for a 4 3/4″ square and my charm square is 5″, do I need to trim it down?
I would say yes. With any of my patterns, if you don’t trim them to the size specified in the pattern, the rest of the pieces will not fit together properly.
5. Sometimes I find them hard to trim. Any suggestions?
If you have to cut your square down to 4 7/8″, I trim a little off all sides. I don’t mind the pinked edge, but if I can, I prefer to work from a fresh edge.
Many times you have to cut the charm square in half. To make that easier, I always use 2 rulers as shown.
That way I can see if I am cutting it perfectly in half. Then I pull one ruler away, and make my cut.
Even better, if you have a June Taylor Short Cuts ruler, try that. If you aren’t familiar with this ruler, it has slits in the ruler, just large enough for your blade to slide through.
This show shows the blade sliding along the 2 1/2″ slit
See how easy (and quick) it is to cut this Layer Cake square into 4 – 2 1/2″ strips?
6. Sometimes when I am sewing two jelly roll strips together, I’m not sure where to align it next to my 1/4″ foot.
I have a couple different answers for this one. In my experience, I have found that the jelly rolls are cut a couple threads wide to allow for some of the pinking fuzz to wear off. So, if I have a brand new Jelly roll where I can see the sharp point of the pinking hasn’t worn off, I allow just the little tips to show past the edge of my 1/4″ foot. You can barely see the tips in the photo below –
If some of that fuzz has worn off, I will align it right next to my foot. If you are in doubt, measure your strips first, too see exactly how wide they are or sew a few test strips first. There is nothing worse than sewing all the pieces and then finding out you are too small. This small variation isn’t a big deal, but I am kind of fussy about my seam allowance! It is especially important if you are making a block with lots of seams. Being two threads off on a block with two seams isn’t a huge deal, but if that block has 10 seams, all of a sudden your block is a 1/2″ too small!
One other suggestion I have is that sometimes it is possible to rotate your pieces so you have a pinked edge next to a straight edge, and this will help you see exactly where to align them next to your 1/4″ foot.
I also recommend having good light to help see those edges.
It may sound like a bit of a hassle to deal with the pinking, but it’s something that I think is well worth the effort and the benefits far outweigh the negatives. In fact, I find the precuts a bit addicting and when given the choice, I pick them! But, say for example, the fabric you want isn’t available in a jelly roll or layer cake, my patterns give fat quarter options, so either way you are covered.
Anyway, I hope this short tutorial helps. If you would like to practice your skills with precuts – why not try:
This pattern for Charms:
This pattern for Jelly Rolls,
Or this pattern for Layer Cakes:
Wait, what did you say? You need the pattern? Okay – I can help with that. I am going to give away one of each the two books and single pattern. Why? Because I love to share anything to do with quilting and the sooner you have the pattern, the sooner you will give precuts a try!
To enter this Pattern(s) of the Week drawing, just leave us a comment. I’d like to hear what you think about precuts or if you have other questions you would like answers to.
This is just another temptation for you – New Jelly Rolls I just ordered from www. fatquartershop.com. this week. Aren’t they so dreamy?