Ruler Made Stripes

One of the demos I did while at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas this past October was called Painting With Your Rotary Cutter. Here I am in a complete panic as I realize that there is no way that I can demo  things using a sewing machine–it is too slow.

Maria Shell at Craftsy Open StudiosWe named the demo that because I was in the Paint Studio.

Prepping for this demo really got me thinking about how we do indeed paint with our rotary cutters. Our fabric is our paint, and the cuts we make are our brush strokes.

This is something Nancy Crow teaches her students. She wants us to make marks with our rotary cutters. And furthermore, she believes that if you are using a ruler you are not making an original mark. I get that, and sometimes I even do it.

But that is really only one way in which I make marks. I use my ruler (gasp), my rotary cutter, my mat, and the images in the fabric to determine how I make my marks. I wrote about this in a blog called Four Ways to Cut Fabric, so I won’t cover that information here.

I have continued to think about this, and I landed in a surprising place–at least for me. I realized that I was making prints out of solids. That what we commonly call a strip-set is really a striped fabric! I don’t why it took me so many years to see this, but once I did a whole slew of new ideas surfaced. If I can stitch stripes, can I make polka dots? and what about plaids? I quickly stitched up some samples and went off to Houston to show them to the quilting world.

Maria Shell at Craftys Open StudioI do feel that in this particular demo I shared some very good, maybe even new, information with the quilters who stopped by to see what I was doing. I promised these lovely ladies that I would write up a series of blog posts based on Painting with Your Rotary Cutter. And here we are.

I invite you to stitch along with me as I make these different prints. We are going to start with the simplest most straight forward idea about making prints and gradually work our way towards what I hope will be an outrageous free-for-all print making extravaganza.

But first, the humble ruler made stripe.

To make your striped fabric, you will need to pick your palette. I shared some of my thoughts on how to do that in this post called Picking Your Palette. While it is always good to go into a project with a strong palette, you can tweak–add and subtraction from a particular palette–to get a stronger visual impact.

Here is the simple palette I started with. I apologize for the photos. As we head towards Winter Solstice up here, there is very little natural light and getting good photos is extremely difficult.

Ruler Cut Stripes Once I have the palette. I design my stripe. Here are the notes for making this stripe.

Ruler Cut StripesWhen cutting my fabric with a ruler, I always iron it, then fold it selvedge to selvedge and iron again. I place the very well ironed fabric on my cutting matt. I line my fabric up vertically and horizontally with the lines on the matt. The folded edge is closest to me. The selvedge edges are away from me.

I trim the uneven edge of fabric using my ruler.

Ruler Made StripesI then cut each strip of fabric to the width I think is going to be best for the stripe.

Ruler Made StripesOnce I am done, I line the fabric up, and see if I think.

Ruler Made Stripes MCSWow. That cheddar color thinks she rules the universe. I am going to have to cut her down size. I rearrange the colors and proportions, make a new set of notes and cut the fabric again.

Ruler Made Stripes MCSThis is better. I stitch the strips together.

I always iron after every seam. Yep. I do not stitch two or three strips and then iron. That’s just sloppy.

Ruler Made Print MCSIf you iron after every seam, in the end you will have a beautiful flat well-pressed stripe and in this world that is what we are aiming for.

Ruler Made Stripe MCSHere is my finished stripe.

Ruler Made StripesOkay, but not quite right. I decide that the purple and cheddar are both just a wee fat. I use my rotary cutter and ruler shave off a 1/4”. You can also do without the ruler just cut exactly on the stitched quarter of an inch seam.

Ruler Made Stripe MCSThis is better.

Ruler Made Stripe MCSBut it is still a bit bright for me. I want the proportion to sing. I add a final of strip of green. I like it.

Ruler Made Stripe MCS It is not my absolutely favorite stripe I have ever made, but it is a keeper.

Next we lose the ruler but keep the matt to make a slightly irregular stripe. I hope you will join me.

P.S. I am sharing this post on Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Check it out to see what fiber artists from around the world have been doing this week.

This entry was published on December 5, 2013 at 7:29 PM. It’s filed under My Process-Quilts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “Ruler Made Stripes

  1. Renata Pires on said:

    You didn’t need to panic!
    You class was so well explained and the sewing machine really was useless to understand what you were doing.
    Don’t you think you should have a class in Craftsy website? I think everybody would love it.
    Have a good one! Renata

  2. Great post, Maria…succinct and very thorough. I loved that you shared that some strips sets were not what your eye wanted to see and shared that you wanted to cut and stitch a set that was more in the planned direction … Thanks for sharing the inspiration, and I plan to stitch along.

  3. Great lesson!!! Love that you are so willing to share your talent with us!

  4. Very clear directions. Looking forward to the next ones. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  5. Very nice Maria!

  6. Pingback: 1 year, 500 likes, Artful Mitts and Mystery Quilt | stitchinggrandma

  7. Pingback: Mat Made Stripes | Maria Shell

Leave a Reply