Week 2 of the 2021 American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt-Along starts on 3/1. The assignment is to cut fabrics. Here are some helpful tips for cutting your fabrics. See more about the Quilt-Along here.

Here are 5 tips for prepping and cutting your fabrics.

1. Some people like to prewash their fabrics and others don't. This is a personal preference, so do whatever you feel comfortable with. BUT if you're using precuts for this quilt, don't wash your fabric ahead of time. Precuts tend to ravel when washed and you'll have a little shrinkage, which will make the size of your precuts unusable for this quilt. Also – if your precuts have pinked edges – don't trim those off. You count the pinked edges as part of the width as you sew, so you need them!

2. It's good practice to wait until the very end to cut your border strips. Here's why -- any variations in seam allowance can change the size of the finished top, so if you just cut them the size the pattern specifies; your border may be too short or long.

3. Now let's talk about ironing your fabric so it's ready for cutting. If you're using precuts, you may not have much ironing to do. But your strips probably were folded in half in the packaging process, so you at least have one crease to deal with. You need to be careful when ironing precuts, because you don't want to distort the fabric or stretch it in any way, so just press the iron over any areas that need to flatten. For larger pieces, we suggest letting them lay flat to cool before moving it over to your cutting station. This helps the fabric stay flat and smooth, even if you move it later.

4. You can save a little time when cutting by layering your fabric to cut multiple pieces at once! If you do this, we suggest having a fresh rotary cutter blade. Line up your strips on the cutting mat perfectly -- usually another thicker than four layers can start to cause some problems with things shifting or being too thick to cut through. If you're cutting from yardage, you can do the same thing – just fold your fabric over itself, align with one line in your cutting mat, and cut.

5. Keep your fabrics organized! Once you have all your pieces cut, place them together by size. Then you can add a pin or clip with the fabric size labeled so you don't mix up the strips.