Fun strip quilts, 4 ways + a cutting tip (and a sale!)

Fabric strips for quiltingWe asked about your strip-piecing skills in a recent post about the new book Remarkable Rectangles. Turns out, some quilters struggle with strip-pieced quilts. Why? Because sewing long, skinny strips in a straight line—at high sewing-machine speeds—can be a bit tricky!

If you maintain an accurate ¼" seam, the problem probably isn’t with sewing straight strips: it’s with cutting straight strips. One wonky cut can send all of your straight strips into warp drive, causing a permanent bend in the sewing-time continuum. To chart a straight and narrow course, follow this foolproof strip-cutting tip from the book Strip Savvy by Kate Henderson:

Quick tip: cutting straight fabric strips
Now that you’ve got a straightforward plan for cutting strips, take a look at what you can create with them. The eBooks featured below all use strips in imaginative ways!

Strip piece your scraps

Strips and Strings by Evelyn Sloppy

Quilts from Strips and Strings

Strips and Strings exclusive: learn to sew half-square triangles and 60-degree triangles with scrappy strips

> See all 16 quilts from Strips and Strings

Transform strips into stars

Ribbon-Star Quilts by Nancy Mahoney

Quilts from Ribbon-Star Quilts

Ribbon-Star Quilts exclusive: cut rectangle units from bias strip sets to make a single spectacular block design; then spotlight the beautiful block in five showstopping quilts

> See more from Ribbon-Star Quilts

Double your strip sets, double your fun

Quilts on the Double by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe

Quilts from Quilts on the Double

Quilts on the Double exclusive: make two strip quilts from one set of fabrics

> See more than 20 projects from Quilts on the Double

Sew, cut, stagger: strippy simplicity
Instant Bargello by Susan Kisro

Quilts from Instant Bargello

Instant Bargello exclusive: use your favorite novelty fabrics in easy quilts that show them off—Susan’s technique skips traditional Bargello tubes

> See all six projects in Instant Bargello

Strip SavvyIf your 2½" strips are calling your name…

Mix traditional blocks and modern fabrics in fun quilts designed especially for 2½" strips—either prepackaged or prepared from your stash. In Strip Savvy by Kate Henderson, she even shows you how to create scrappy pieced borders and bindings with your leftovers. See all the quilts from Strip Savvy.

Preparing strips for quilts: unrolling precuts or your slicing up your stash? Share your approach in the comments!


16 Comments (leave a comment)

  • For strips, I would use whatever I had.

    —Quilting Tangent on August 25, 2014
  • You ask about precuts and slicing the stash. How about harvesting the scraps? I don’t use precuts. I do cut strips from fabric in my stash. I also routinely cut up scraps into a number of standard sizes — and that includes strips (1.5, 2, 2.5 wide). I have bins under my cutting table for each size of strip.

    Nann on August 25, 2014
  • I cut my strips from stash fabric; it takes some time and "retrimming" to keep the measurements accurate, but worth doing.

    —Arlene on August 25, 2014
  • Kate Henderson’s cutting method is the one I’ve used for many (25) years. It’s perfect! I’d like to add…
    (1) After cutting 3-4 strips, check to be sure your ruler is still perpendicular to the fold line! Sliver trim if necessary.
    (2) When lining up the selvages, if there is a ripple diagonally across the fabric, slide one selvage against the other until the ripple disappears. The selvage edges should stay lined up with each other when you pick up the fabric by the fold, shake it and let it hang.

    —Kris P on August 25, 2014
  • I use an Accu-Quilt Go fabric cutter that makes "perfect" 2.5 inch strip every time. However, my strips STILL, more often than not, have a bend in them when I remove them from the strip cutter. Sometimes that bend is a more pronounced V which is even worse. I don’t get it. I cannot figure out how to correct it. And Yes, I use the expensive so-called "quality" 100% cotton quilting fabric from quilt shops.

    —Linda Edwards on August 25, 2014
  • I go for either and sometimes I combine. Whatever works. I love strips.

    —Chris on August 25, 2014
  • I appreciate the savvy tip from Kate Henderson, however, as a long-time quilting instructor, I’d submit that keeping the fold of the fabric toward your body and using it to be sure your ruler stays straight is key. If you only align the ruler with the cut edge, eventually you’ll be cutting more and more crooked, hence the ‘dreaded V’ in your long strips. Use that fold to keep your ruler straight. Use a secondary ruler if you need to, lined up with the fold, to keep your primary ruler doing its job.

    Mary-Jeanine on August 25, 2014
  • Your instructions need to include one very important fact about sewing long strips of fabric. If you continue sewing strips together in only one direction, the entire thing will become bowed. Sewing each strip in alternate directions will cure that. First from south to north, then from north to south.

    —Vickie on August 25, 2014
  • I slice from the stash.

    —Linda Christianson on August 25, 2014
  • For all of you who have issues with rulers slipping when you’re cutting strips, can I recommend the Rule Steady?
    It sits (mostly) on top of your ruler, with an edge on the mat snug against the ruler, so it can’t slip.
    I don’t have any affiliation with the company that makes this ruler, but it was recommended to me by a lot of quilters in my online group and it’s been a marvel. You don’t have to put as much pressure on the ruler or move your hand upwards as you’re cutting.
    If you Google it, you’ll find the website.

    —Kayt Deans on August 25, 2014
  • My Quilt guild recently had a "strip piece jelly roll" contest. It was a lot of fun, and I came in 3rd…and the Guild got a lot of neat comfort Quilts, as we did them all in red, white and blue, they’ll be given to veterans…!

    We each had to make a jelly roll of our scraps and that was fun and then had it in a big roll and started sewing…lots of fun, I highly recommend it to any quilter.

    —Jeanette Spellmeyer on August 25, 2014
  • I’ve been slicing up my stash ’till I’m blue in the face!!!

    —Lorinda on August 25, 2014
  • One of the best tools I have for cutting strips is a slotted ruler. The slots are 1/2″ apart so once the edge is lined up I can cut across the 6″ ruler at 2 1/2″ widths easily twice. ( or 1 1/2″ widths 3X).I use it almost every day when quilting.

    —Elizajane on August 26, 2014
  • Creative Guild Rulers have become my best friends…whether I want 2 inch or 2.5 inch strips; the guidelines are there along with sandpaper backing to hold ruler in place. I do have several slotted rulers, however, they don’t always have the right width I might need.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on September 3, 2014
  • I use Creative Grids rulers and Guidelines for Quilting, when cutting many strips. It also helps to press the seam where the fabric is folded so it lays down flat and you will not get the V mentioned above with the Accuquilt.

    —Grace Sortland on March 21, 2017
  • Strip coth cutting tips are good enough to use. Most people like to do the same with clothes.

    Jonathan White on January 14, 2021

Leave a comment

*Indicates required field