Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tip Tuesday! Pre-cuts

Welcome to
"Tip Tuesday!" - Pre-cuts

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give due credit whenever possible.

These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired! 

Love them or Hate them?

I know there are a lot of opinions on using pre-cuts and I'm not going to debate their usefulness, but I am going to discuss them in a pretty general sense.

Pre-cuts come in all different shapes in sizes - 2 1/2" strips, 5" strips, 1 1/2" strips, 10" squares, 5" squares, 2 1/2" squares, triangles, hexagons, etc. 

There are a myriad of names for each of these pre-cuts as well, depending on the manufacturer. And, not all pre-cuts come with the same number of pieces in them. For example, some 2 1/2" strip sets come with 40 different strips while others come with 42. There are sets of 2 1/2" strips that have 40 fabrics, but there are also some that have 2 of 20 different fabrics. I've seen sets of 40 strips that includes 4 strips of 5 different fabrics.

Some 2 1/2" strip sets only have 20 fabrics, while others have 36. Be careful when you see a great price for a set of 2 1/2" strips. You need to know how many you are getting for that "great" price.

Because of this inconsistency, it is important to know what you're buying. Reading the labels is the first place to start. Most labels will tell you how many strips and how many different fabrics are in each set. Unfortunately though, that is not always the case. 

I've seen a number of shops that make their own sets and they don't always provide all of this information. I've taken the pre-cut bundle up to the counter and asked for clarification and have never had anyone complain. Unless it doesn't matter to you, I'd suggest doing the same thing.

Besides the inconsistency in number of pieces, I have run into inconsistencies in sizes as well. One of the first sets of 2 1/2" strips that I bought almost completely turned me off to ever using pre-cuts again. The strips ranged in sizes from 2 1/4" all the way to 2 5/8". I quickly learned that for that set, I needed to measure each strip before using it. 

I'll admit that it was a pain, but it really did help me make the needed adjustments. Some strips needed trimmed down, while others needed aligned so that I still ended up with a 2" finished strip. (In those cases, the raw edges of the strips did not match up. I offset them so the seam allowance was 1/8" instead of 1/4" and it worked well.)

Ok, so you've decided to use a pre-cut bundle! What's the next step? 

Probably the question I am most often asked when students are using pre-cuts that have been cut at the manufacturer is which edge of the "pinking" they should use. My general answer is that depends. (Don't you hate it when someone doesn't answer your question, or they answer a question with a question?) My real, and more accurate answer, is to measure the fabric piece and make a decision from there. 

Where do you get the 5"? Is it from all around the outside on the tips or mountains of the pinkings? Or is it in the valley or lowest spot of the pinking In some cases, I've had to use the tips on two sides and the valleys on the other two sides.

Take a look at pre-cut charm pack I was working with this weekend. The black fabric square was cut from yardage and I double checked to make sure it measured exactly 5" x 5". If you look closely, you can see the green fabric that came from the pack is larger on all sides. 

The oversize did not bother me because I was simply making half square triangles and I was going to trim them down to 4 1/2" anyway. But, this may have become a problem if I was just going to be piecing the charm pieces into a quilt top next to other 5" blocks or charms that were exactly 5".

Now you may say that the tiny little bit won't matter, but multiply that overage by the number of blocks and it will add up and make a difference. Trust me; I know from experience. 

Bottom line, no matter what you are going to do, measure any pre-cuts before using them. Make adjustments if you can; or choose other fabrics. 

Or, maybe you could step outside your comfort zone and re-size or re-design the block. I know you can do it! I have faith in you.  :-)

Happy Tuesday 
Happy Sewing !

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