How to Cut Fabric that’s Larger than Your Cutting Mat

how-to-cut-fabric-straight-when-its-too-big-for-your-cutting-boardThere’s always that one project that has us wishing that we had a bigger and better crafting or sewing room. Even those of us with a giant cutting board or mat are sometimes struggling to get perfectly straight lines on giant cuts for our quilts or other sewing projects! I’m here to tell you that, when you have a game plan, the seemingly impossible task of cutting that giant piece of fabric suddenly becomes quite simple! Read on to see how I manage to cut large pieces of fabric on smaller cutting mats without a problem!

Do the Math

Before you get started on cutting, you need to do the math on the exact length of fabric that you’ll need. I needed a 90″ piece of fabric, but clearly, my cutting mat is not 90″ long. So, I divided 90 by 2 and found that my board does have a 45″ mark. So, the game plan was to fold my fabric in half (so that there are 2 halves that measure 45″) and then cut. This will give me a total of 90.”

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Add a Little Extra

When folding fabric in half, in order to cut one large piece, I always like to leave  a little wiggle room, so before folding my fabric in half, I added an inch.

how-do-i-cut-fabric-that-is-larger-than-my-cutting-board

Now It’s Time to Fold

Pinch your fabric at the mark and slide it down to the “0” mark on your cutting board. Fold over the spot that you’ve got pinched and line up the bottom folded edge. Make sure that the folded edges match each other and that it’s all lined up on a single line on the cutting mat.

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Get Ready to Cut

Once you’re sure that everything is lined up and laying flat, you’re ready to cut! You’ll see that there is about an extra inch of fabric where I want to cut, which is perfect! In order to make sure that both ends are straight—that’s what you want. Line up your ruler, check your math one last time, and then make your cut through all 4 layers of fabric. It’s a little unnerving, but just remember the old adage: Measure twice, cut once!

how-do-i-cut-a-long-piece-of-fabric-straightcutting-a-long-strip-of-fabric-so-that-its-straight

There you have it—a simple and accurate game plan for cutting fabric that is bigger than your cutting board or mat. Do you have a special technique for the same problem? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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3 Comments

  1. When I fold a larger piece of fabric in order to cut it, even though I’ve lined it up and squared it off, when I open the fabric up, sometimes I find the cut is curved. I used a rotery cutter and mat and ruler, but I can not figure out why this happens quite often. What do you think the problem is?

    • This is a really common problem, it’s something I’d like to have a whole post on soon—you’re not alone, Amanda!

      A few things first:
      -Make sure that your fabric is pressed before cutting. Sometimes a ton of teeny wrinkles can really add up.
      -Fabric is tough to get straight because it’s made from stretchy threads and is woven (double whammy!), so check that you’re not tugging on it as you fold it before you cut. This is probably the number one cause of a curved cut because it’s so sneaky!
      -Is the ruler slipping as you cut? I’d say this is the second most common problem. I’d suggest getting small, non-stick feet to put on your ruler in this case. Even a tiny slip can make a huge curve on your cut.
      -Are you keeping your fabric lined up on the mat *and* the ruler? When you cut, make sure that things are straight on both the mat and ruler. I can go into more detail about this with pictures if you think this might be the issue.

      Let me know about these few things first and then we can go from there. I’m going to get to work on a full blog post about this because it is a common problem and pictures are much more helpful!

      Thanks for the question (and the inspiration!)

    • Hi Amanda-

      You inspired me to write a blog post! As I was writing and thinking about your problem, I think it is the last problem that I hit on in the post! Make sure to check it out!

      http://www.rachelrossi.design/troubleshooting-cutting-fabric-with-rotary-cutter/

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