Modern Flight QAL Week 2: Cut Your Fabric

by | May 5, 2021

Welcome to Week 2 of the Modern Flight Quilt Along!

This week we’re diving in and cutting our fabric. If you haven’t paper pieced before, some of the shapes we’re cutting might be unfamiliar, but we’ve got templates for everything. This is going to be a breeze!

BUT FIRST! While I was doing my cutting these week, I came across two tiny tweaks I decided to make to the pattern. Neither one is critical. You can absolutely use the pattern as is. However, both make things easier to understand and help your cutting templates fit more snuggly onto the fabric you’re cutting. There is one correction to the throw/queen size and one to the baby size.

With that said, if you purchased the pattern you should have received an email yesterday with a link to download the updated version and a summary of the updates. Any purchases from now on will already have the relevant updates.

As we go through the steps below, I’ll highlight the two minor changes I made in red for those of you who just want to scroll and read those!

For this week you’ll need:

  1. Your Modern Flight pattern.
  2. Your printed out cutting templates. Pattern Correction Alert: One of my pattern corrections was to make the A4/5 and B4/5 templates slightly smaller for the BABY VERSION of the quilt. If you’re doing the baby version, you’ll want to re-print the very last page from the PDF and use those templates. There are no other corrections to the baby version of the quilt. If you’re making a throw or queen quilt, your templates are already correct!

An Overview Of Precutting For Paper Piecing

If you’re new to paper piecing, this week is going to have something you haven’t encountered before–precutting fabric to use on your paper blocks. 

In normal quilting, you cut various shapes out of your fabric. They’re usually rectangles and squares. And it’s usually VERY important to your finished quilt that you are as precise as possible in cutting out these pieces, right? Because you join them directly to form your finished product. For this quilt, we’ll use that type of accuracy when cutting our sashing and border pieces (C through F in your pattern).

However, our block pieces (all the A and B pieces) are fabric that we’re cutting to use on paper pieced blocks. That means that what we’re actually doing is cutting out fabric shapes that are big enough to cover the relevant section of a block. The only goal with these pieces is that they are big enough and that they’re a shape that makes it easy to line them up when we add them. (No idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry… we’ll go through block construction next week in detail and I’ll be around to answer all your questions!)

With this kind of cutting, all the final precision comes from the block itself. So as you’re using all of your block cutting templates (Diamonds, A2/3, B2/3, A4/5, B4/5), you can play things a little fast and loose. For me that means stacking up all my A2/3 rectangles and subcutting them all at once. Are the resulting trapezoids all about 1/8 inch off in one direction or another? Yep. Will it matter at all? Nope. Does it save me a ton of time? Yep. Quick but still precise in the end? Win and win. 

So relax and enjoy your cutting this week because a lot of it is going to be much more efficient than you’re used to if you’ve only made traditionally pieced quilts.

This Week’s Tasks:

Review The Cutting Section of the Pattern: “PART 2: Pre-Cut Fabric”

First, a quick reminder about paper piecing. When you add your fabric to a paper piecing template, the WRONG side of the fabric ends up against the WRONG side of the paper. Therefore, the shape you cut to cover a specific section will be a mirror image of the shape printed on your block.

Below you can see an A block. Next to it is an A block with the printed side down and my pre-cut fabric pieces placed on top facing up. As you can see, the image is reversed.

For cutting purposes, I recommend ignoring your printed paper pieced blocks and focus on using your layout diagram on your cutting page and the labels on your cutting templates. For example, if you look at an A paper printed block, you might accidentally think you need to cut your diamond fabric the way it looks on the block. Which would be backwards. Instead, rely on your A diamond cutting template and you’ll nail all your shapes!

Cut Diamond Fabric

There are two template options for cutting out your diamond fabric.

First, if you’re fussy cutting each diamond, you’ll use the two templates that look like diamonds. Is “fussy cutting” an unfamiliar term for you? No problem! It just means that you’re cutting out your pieces with the intent to frame a particular image or from a smaller bit of fabric. It’s the opposite of cutting your shapes out of yardage or fat quarters.

If you’re fussy cutting, you’ll use the templates labeled “A1 Fussy Cutting Template” and “B1 Fussy Cutting Template.”

If you’re cutting your diamonds from yardage or fat quarters, you’ll use the templates labeled “A1 Yardage Cutting Template” and “B1 Yardage Cutting Template.”

You’ll need one diamond cut for each block in your quilt. There’s a table in your pattern summarizing home many you’ll need for your size quilt.

If you’re using a reversible fabric (like a solid Kona cotton), you can use just the A1 template to cut all your diamonds. Then you’d just flip the piece over to use for B1 when needed. This will allow you to cut a tiny bit more efficiently. There are diagrams illustrating this in your pattern.

For my quilt, I’m using Kona cottons and cutting from yardage so I’ll be using the A1 Yardage Cutting Template to cut all of my diamonds.

Background Fabric

You’ll cut your background fabric into two types of pieces. First, you’ll pre-cut fabric that will go on your paper piecing blocks. Second, you’ll cut your sashing and border pieces.

If you’re using a single background fabric, you’ll cut your pieces from one large piece of yardage. If you’re using a different color for each column of your quilt, make sure you’re following your cutting chart because different columns require different sizes and numbers of pieces! There are cutting illustrations in your pattern to help you with this.

A. Block Pieces

There are four background pieces used on each block. As you can see in the image below, these can be cut in sets of two from standard rectangles. So in this step, we’ll first cut our fabric into two sizes of rectangles and then subcut those rectangles into the shapes needed for your blocks.

You’ll cut your rectangles one way for A blocks and the mirror way for B blocks, unless you’re using a reversible fabric (like I am) and can cut them all one way.

Pattern Correction Alert: This one only impacts the throw and queen versions of the quilt. In this correction, I changed the size of the rectangle you cut for the A2/3 and B2/3 templates. The pattern calls for a 5.5″ x 4.25″ rectangle. The actual rectangle can be cut at just 5.5″ x 4″. If you already cut your fabric, you don’t have to re-cut anything! You’ll just end up with half of your A2/3 and B2/3 templates a little larger than needed. This extra wiggle room won’t change how your blocks come out at all. For those of you using a single background color, this slight change might also let you get all of your A2/3 and B2/3 rectangles out of fewer strips of fabric. This really depends on the usable (non-selvage) width of your fabric so I didn’t change the number of strips to cut in the pattern. But if you’re into that fabric efficiency life (and who isn’t?!), you might want to try using the following and seeing if you can get all the pieces you need from a little less fabric: For the throw size, try cutting 5 strips @ 5.5″ instead of 6 strips and see if you can get your 48 rectangles from that. For the queen size, try cutting 11 strips @ 5.5″ instead of 13 strips and see if you can get your 110 rectangles from that. Sorry for the confusion! That’s it for pattern corrections!

As you can see below, working from left to right, I cut out a rectangle, then used my template to subcut it, and ended up with two identical pieces. Remember that these are pieces you’re cutting to cover sections of your paper block so they don’t have to be perfect. For my quilt, I piled up my rectangles of each color and subcut them all at once! Much faster and plenty accurate for this step.

A. Sashing & Border Pieces

The pattern covers this, but I’ll reiterate it here:

If you are using a single background color, you can simply cut the correct total number of each sashing and border piece and move on.

Note, however, that if you are using a different color for each column, you need to also consider that:

(1) For some quilt sizes, the odd columns (1, 3, and 5) and even columns (2, 4, and
6) have a DIFFERENT number of some sashing pieces. This is reflected in the cutting charts in your pattern. You will need to know which fabric you want for which column before you start cutting.

(2) There are borders on the left and right of all the quilt sizes. You will only cut these border strips (F) from the fabrics you are using for your far left and right columns.

Binding Fabric

I’ll admit something… I never cut my binding fabric at the beginning of a quilt. Because I never decide what binding to use until after the quilt is done and, usually, quilted. So I’m not cutting any binding fabric this week. But if you’re a planner and know what binding you’re using, go ahead and cut your strips according to the chart in the pattern!

That’s It!

You’re done for this week and ready to dive in next week and start sewing blocks together.

But wait! Let’s talk about this week’s prize!

Week 2 Prize Sponsor: Modish Quilter Magazine!

Have you heard of Modish Quilter Magazine yet? It’s a fresh, new magazine specifically for modern quilters and I am already a big fan. They have four issues a year and each is packed full of how-to articles, modern quilt patterns, maker highlights, and more. Their last issue already introduced me to a handful of great Instagram modern quilters that I wasn’t familiar with before and whose work I found inspiring. Check them out HERE. You can get their pilot issue for free to see a taste of what they’re up to.

The Prize: They’ll be giving away a one year subscription to one of our lucky quilters!

So How Do I Win? To qualify this week, make sure you’re following @modishquilter on Instagram AND post a photo of your favorite or most useful cutting tool! Be sure to use the #modernflightqal hashtag and post no later than midnight CST on Tuesday, May 11th. You must have a public Instagram account for your post to count!

That’s it! Happy Quilting and I’ll see you back here next week for some actual sewing.

– Kate

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