The Rotary Cutter Made Me Do It!

You can't train your templates to fetch, but you can teach them new ways to cut new or bigger shapes that will reduce bulk for a neater, flatter block. Analyze your block design and its underlying grid to see if you can eliminate a few seams by combining two grid spaces and cutting a custom piece to fit them. We use cutting tricks like those illustrated here almost every day in the From Marti Michell studio!

Need a triangle big enough to span two squares on a grid but there isn't a triangle template large enough in your template set? Depending on the block pattern, there is most likely a triangle template in that same set that can do the job. The illustration shows using template Q-94 to cut a "94+94" triangle, but you can use this trick with triangles in many of our template sets, like A, B, L and M.

If you need a "home plate" shaped piece for a 12" four-patch block, you can use template #1 in Set A to cut a square and then use #3 to trim away two adjacent corners. You can do this trick with squares 3+5 in Set A, too, and with squares 8+10 and 10+12 in Set B.

The shape below can be cut with square A-1 and triangle C-16. This shape is the same as if you sewed a C-19 rectangle to a C-17 triangle. The same shape can be cut with square D-8 and triangle D-22. For mirror image pieces, place fabrics right sides together to cut the squares, then trim as shown.

How about instead of cutting a square and a triangle out of the same fabric and sewing them together to make a left- or right-pointing trapezoid, you cut a rectangle and alter one end? Rectangle #19 in Set C is the same height and width as template #4 in Set A. To make mirror images, cut rectangles with fabric right sides together, then use the triangle template to trim off one end. Same thing with Sets B and D = rectangle #25 and triangle #11.

Here's the same scenario using templates in Set L:

Sometimes one parallelogram can do the job of two triangles. If you need mirror images, cut strips right sides together and then use the appropriate triangle template for your needs. This one can be a little tricky - pay attention to the desired grainline and the orientation of the shape in the block design.The shapes below may look the same, but they behave differently in different block designs and they cannot be rotated if cut incorrectly. In the first set of illustrations below, the lengthwise grainline is on the short side. In the bottom row, it's on the long side.