Monday, October 20, 2014

Rotary Cutting and Specialty Rulers!

So, you’ve got a new book!

Or the latest issue of your favorite quilting magazine has just hit your mailbox and you are dying to dig in!

But the rotary cutting math in print is not showing up to be so Scrap User’s System friendly ---

It’s REGULAR STANDARD ROTARY CUTTING..and you just don’t want to do it!

You want to put all those nifty tricks you’ve learned while watching us create here in Quiltville.  You haven’t used the Easy Angle for half square triangles in a while, and heaven knows WHERE your Companion Angle ruler is!

I’m sure you know by now that these are my favorite MUST HAVE tools for traditional patchwork shapes, and I am never without them.

What you see here are some cutting directions I printed out for a block I am working on in EQ ---

EQ won’t print for specialty rulers so there are a few things I keep in mind so that I know what to cut when I need to cut it.

It’s all in the shape!


Shape E is a half-square triangle!

The regular cutting directions would have me cutting 2 3/8” squares.  Doesn’t sound fun to me at ALL!  Does it to you?

I want to cut these shapes with the Easy Angle Ruler – and figuring out what size of strip to cut is simple.  Simply REMOVE 3/8” from the 2 3/8” measurement!

3/8” is the height of one dog ear.  You are going to snip those off in the process anyway, so why not remove them first and cut your triangles from a 2” strip?  I’m so happy that I can use the Easy Angle ruler for cutting this half square triangle.  The unfinished unit will measure 2” also, and finish at 1.5” square in my block.  Perfect.


Uhoh!  Shape C is a Quarter Square Triangle!

The directions tell me I need to cut 4 1/4” squares with an X to get my shape.  I don’t save 4 1/4” squares – I don’t have those on hand all the time and I need a lot of variety.  This would be a pain!

But I know by looking at that 4 1/4” measurement that the unit is going to finish at 3”.  The formula for  quarter-square triangles is to take the finished size of the unit and add 1 1/4” and then cut that with an X, so I just worked backwards.  Take the cut size, remove the 1 1/4” and I am left with the finished size of the unit.

See that big THREE on the edge of the Companion Angle Ruler?  That’s the finished size of the unit after it is sewn into the quilt.  Follow the line below the three to the center of the ruler.  I can cut this same shape from a 2” strip….the same size strip as my half square triangle with the Easy Angle Ruler.

This is the BOMB because I keep 2” strips on hand in a lot of variety ALL.THE.TIME.  2 3/8” squares?  NO!  4 1/4” squares?  No!  2” strips?  YOU BETCHA!

Now stick with me here…see shape B above shape C in the photo above?  What do you get when you remove 3/8” from 1 7/8??

I can ALSO use the Easy Angle Ruler to cut those half square triangles from a 1 1/2” strip!  ((7/8 minus 3/8 = 4/8 or 1/2” for a 1 1/2” strip!))

It’s easy when you know what to subtract and how to figure, and the more you use these tools the better it gets!

My day has been a bit nuts.

It all started when I wanted to grab my passport and put it with my traveling stuff so I’d be ready to go, but ….I couldn’t find it!

I searched for an hour.

I hyperventilated.

I got panicky.

I called the DH.

He came home to help me look and while he was looking on line for what we would have to do to get one expedited, I found it:

Where was it??

Still in the travel wallet I had it in when I went to England.  I had set it next to the treadle machine in the basement studio so I WOULDN’T FORGET IT!  I forgot it anyway.

NOW I can go on that cruise!  Honduras, Belize, Cozumel -- here we come!


Goodies in the mail!

Special thanks to Kathy in MD for the cute cute table topper!  Here you see the extent of my Halloween decorating….it’s all on the dining room table!  But hey, It’s before Halloween so we are good to go!

Bank run, done.

Hair cut, done.

Eyebrow wax, done….”And do you want me to remove this long hair that is growing out of a mole on your neck? It’s white…..”  WHAT!?  Yes, I am growing white hairs out of my neck.  Made my day!  ((Yes, it is now too gone!))

Massage…..I’m totally done in.  I don’t think there will be any major sewing tonight other than curling up with some hand quilting and watching something brainless.

And that’s all right with me!

Don’t forget – Quilt Cam tomorrow evening at 9pm EST!

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  1. I am glad you were able to get everything done, and found your passport! Have a great evening. My evening is supposed to be studying for a college course but just can't get in the mind to do it. Have a great night.

  2. I am going to take notes on this post to store with my rulers. Seriously helpful info for us math challenged folks! When I make your blocks from Quiltmaker I used to follow their directions, now I do try to do the conversions because with your influence I love the easy angles...however I sometimes make a unit more than once to figure out the size I am supposed to be doing--seriously! Now I will be converting easily! THANKS BONNIE! Still your #1 fan! :)

  3. It drives me nuts when a pattern wants me to cut things so much bigger and sliver down to the size needed. So glad I learned how to use these ruler from you. Cut the right size and sew the right size

  4. Thanks so much for such a super blog entry on the rulers and for sharing your vast knowledge with us. Everyone should bookmark this Blog entry.

  5. Thank you for posting this information. I struggle with this all the time

  6. REALLY appreciated your stepping through those rulers - I love them and use them, but haven't got my head around all the details you mentioned - THANKS!!!

  7. I'm so glad you turned me onto these rulers. I LOVE THEM! And you made me laugh about those pesky white hairs. I can totally relate!

  8. I am an Belgian quilter visiting Chicago! I visited The Quilt Merchant as you told us to do if we were in The area. I went by train to Winfield and was picked up at the railway station by Susan P. The shop is certanly worth a visit and Val is such alovely lady. We also went to The Prairie Star quilt Guild of Wheaton and those ladies are your big fans! a lot of quilts of your patterns or mystery quilts on display.
    Thanks for al the sharing !! Martine

  9. Aren't a few super rulers so much better than 'a specialty ruler for each thing'? Like most quilters I had begun to fall prey to those-tricky-have-to-have- this-new-ruler deals. But using only those special few you can cut anything is so perfect. And you save money to buy MORE FABRIC.

    Have a safe,fun and pleasant trip
    Smiles, JulieinTN

  10. What great info Bonnie! As always, you make difficult tasks so easy. Got all my stuff together for the cruise as well! So excited! Can't wait to spend the time making new friends, sightseeing, and most of all, taking one of your classes. I'll be in quilter's heaven.

  11. Awesome post, Bonnie! I'm printing it! :-D Thank you so much!

  12. Anonymous12:22 AM EDT

    Thanks for this reminder! Sew timely for me. I'm Pinning this so I can find it easily later. Lisa, AK

  13. ugh...your blog just gave me a horrific thought...hope i took my passport out of my hiding spot in my traveling purse before i washed it....

  14. Thanks for the ruler instructions. I hope you add this post to your Tutorial's tab. I also love the visual help for them under the Video's tab.
    Funny-ironic about your passport. I keep putting important things in "special" places, then I forget where that special place is.
    Enjoy your trip - wish I was along!

  15. very helpful, I have the the easy angle and the companion angle but must own up to only using them once, will have another play with your instructions

  16. Anonymous2:08 AM EDT

    Thank you so much for the easy to understand calculations! Since I finished your class (My Blue Heaven) here in Poway I've been busy sorting, trimming & organizing my stash and was wondering how to translate some of the shape sizes I use to be able to use the rulers you taught us to use. It's like you were reading my mind! Now I'll be ready to go!

  17. Anonymous2:16 AM EDT

    Bonnie, what a coincidence! I was wishing you would explain those specialty rulers!!! Thanks!

  18. I agree with Andee, this is going to be printed and put in the drawer where those rules 'should' be stored! GGG I wish you had a job writing the explanations that come with the rulers, 'cos I didn't understand them really until now. Have a great cruise :)

  19. I am qualified to tell you "YOU ARE A GENIUS!"

  20. Thank you, Bonnie, for this wonderful clarification sheet! Please may we have this posted under the "tips" tab? Thanks so very much!
    Good going on finding your passport so carefully laid out so that you wouldn't forget it! I can sooooo relate.

  21. Thank you for posting this! I was recently trying to do my own conversions, and I kept over-thinking it, and confusing myself. I'll be pinning this for future reference! (If you decide to post a printer-friendly version, I'll keep a paper copy handy, too!)
    You're a doll for admitting that you, too, get those wacky stray hairs! It's like our bodies are playing jokes on us!

  22. I ha been following you for about 5 years now and I have learned so much. Thank you for the countless hours you put in to teach us to be better quilters. You’re the best!


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