Best Way to Measure and Cut Strips

We have combined strip techniques with templates since we first introduced Perfect Patchwork Templates back in 1995 -- wow, that's a long time ago now! :) This info is also available as a PDF that you can download from the Tips & Tricks page under Handy Info above.

The strip cutting charts on the inside covers of Volumes 1 and 2 feature measurements and assume the use of a standard 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler to measure and cut strips. The strip widths for Sets A through D were easy peasy, but necessity truly is the mother of invention! When the strip widths on Set L came out to sixteenths and thirty-seconds of an inch, Marti had a light bulb moment – Use the template to measure the width of the strips! It is the exact size, and it is a measuring tool. It just isn’t what we are used to calling a ruler.

The technique is shown below. We measure and cut strips like this every day, with all of our tools, templates and rulers alike.

Use Templates to Measure Strip Width

Straighten the edge of the fabric. Align one side of the template with the straightened edge. Place your ruler against the other side of the template to mark the cutting edge. Slide the template along the raw edge to be sure the ruler is aligned cor rectly, then remove the template and cut the strip.

Here we're using template #1 in Set A to measure the strip width for templates #1, #2 and #4.

If you want the grainline for #4 to be on the legs, just turn the template so a 90-degree leg is flush against the 6x24 inch ruler and slide the template up and down until, adjusting the ruler until the strip width is the width of the template from top to bottom. Remove the template and cut the strip.

This diagram illustrates how to measure and cut strips for corner triangles for an 8 inch finished block using Diagonal Set Triangle Ruler #8967.


Use Templates to Cut Shapes from the Strips

Slip a smaller cutting mat or rotating mat under the strips. Rotate it to cut the shapes and nip the corners easily. Place the template on the strip to cut the shape.

Added Benefits of Cutting Strips This Way

Because of the added benefits of using the templates to measure strip widths, we have switched to this approach with all the template sets.

  1. Measuring this way means I use the same edge of my ruler to straighten the fabric and cut the strips, eliminating the need to move around the table or rotate fabric.
  2. The ruler is flat on the fabric, not rocking between the levels of the mat and the fabric.
  3. The large ruler is on the uncut fabric. You can move the cut strip and assure a complete cut before you move the ruler. If two or three pesky threads did not get cut, the ruler is still exactly where it needs to be!

Even when you aren’t using templates, try measuring the desired strip width from the trued-up edge with that edge closest to your preferred cutter hand—right side for right handers, left for lefties. Our 6-1/2 inch Squaring Up Ruler is perfect for measuring strips up to 6-1/2 inches wide.