Pat Sloan’s slick trimming trick (why didn’t we think of this?)

If there’s one thing every new quilter wonders, it’s how to make sure fabric is cut straight. Just one little nudge at the wrong angle can make straight cuts go wonky, which means sewing goes wonky, which means blocks go together wonky. And that’s just too much wonky for one quilt!

Best-selling author Pat Sloan has a smart tip for making straight cuts, and all you need is the rotary trio of tools to do it: mat, ruler, and cutter. Watch below for her clever little trick:


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Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. We love how Pat’s like that!

Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Make My First QuiltWhether you’re a beginner or a seasoned quilting pro, Pat’s latest book, Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Make My First Quilt, is packed with tips and tricks that you may never have come across. Such as:

  • How to test your ¼" seam allowance (and keep it consistent)
  • How to make sure your grainline is straight before cutting (I didn’t know this!)
  • How to fix blocks that are the wrong size
  • How to calculate how much backing fabric you need

Plus tons more tips to make your quilting precise. Because less frustration means more fun!

I recently started teaching my first beginning quiltmaking class, and I’m using Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Make My First Quilt as a guide. My students are making every block in the book and then creating a sampler quilt with them. I’ve made each block two times to use as examples in class, and each time I’ve learned something new from Pat—and I’ve been quilting since 1997!

Blocks from Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Make My First Quilt
Get bonus instructions online for making Pat’s sampler quilt when you buy the book.

Blocks from Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Make My First Quilt
Pat’s blocks in a different color palette

My students are super excited for their first quiltmaking adventure, and so am I! I’ve enjoyed learning Pat’s tips so I can pass them on to my students. And I know they’ll thank me for introducing them to Pat!

Pick up all four books in Pat’s “Teach Me” series for great advice you’ll refer to as long as you quilt:

Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Make My First Quilt Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Sew Triangles Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Applique

What’s your trick for cutting fabric as straight as an arrow?

  • Same trick as Pat!
  • I use the lines on the rotary mat and/or ruler.
  • I didn’t have a trick—until now!

Tell us your technique in the comments!


49 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I’ve been doing exactly what Pat does for quite a while now; I discovered that I could keep my cuts much straighter by doing that. Great minds?? 🙂

    —Carol Kussart on February 2, 2018
  • Same trick as Pat. It works!

    —Eileen Heinze on February 2, 2018
  • I use the slotted ruler to cut 1/2″ cuts and it is great to clean finish the edge of the fabric. It lines up the fold and then cuts a perfect line at 90 degrees. If I’m cutting inch or 1/2 inch cuts I use that ruler. I like the trick using a weight on the end of the ruler to be sure it doesn’t move when I use by long ruler. The main thing I do, I never cut sitting down. You have more control when you stand over the fabric. Thanks to Pat Sloan for helping beginning quilters.

    —Kay Menefee on February 2, 2018
  • I didn’t have a trick until now!

    —Sharon on February 2, 2018
  • Personally, I have always done it that way. It’s much easier to see, especially on long cuts.

    —Debbie Clayton on February 2, 2018
  • Thanks for this; I’m on the waiting list for the library’s copy of Pat’s new book – the first step in my own purchase process!

    —bookboxer on February 2, 2018
  • I use my square ruler and my long ruler to obtain the 90 degree accuracy. I also love the strip templates.

    —Angie on February 2, 2018
  • Same trick as Pat!

    —Elizabeth P. on February 2, 2018
  • I have been using Pat’s trick for several years.

    Sandy on February 2, 2018
  • Will have to try Pat’s way. I have always done mine by lining my fabric up on the mat.

    —Cynthia Fedak on February 2, 2018
  • I use the lines on the rotary mat and/or ruler. It makes the cutting easier and that makes the sewing easier.

    —debby on February 2, 2018
  • I use the same method as Pat. It’s nice to have confirmation from an expert that you are on the right track!

    —Kathie Curley on February 2, 2018
  • I’ve always trimmed the exact way Pat does. Why use only the edge of the ruler when other lines are available to use.

    —Judy Clark on February 2, 2018
  • Same as Pat’s. This is especially good for those of us with older eyes. Been doing this for years.

    —Grace on February 2, 2018
  • I sometimes use the mat, but I do it Pat’s way when my eyes are tired.

    —Winks Krislen Horlings on February 2, 2018
  • I use the rotary ruler and mat help me to have straight lines. I also make sure my selvage on the fold is even. Some selvage has a wave. Cut it off if need be. I also make sure the bottom edge is straight. I cut more from full yards. make sure you check the straight of precuts. Some are a mess and will short change you as much as 1/4″. Good reason I do not buy them.

    —Linda Christianson on February 2, 2018
  • Same trick as Pat

    —Joel Sellers on February 2, 2018
  • Same at Pat! 🙂

    —Debby E on February 2, 2018
  • I’ve been doing it Pat’s way forever. Nice to know others do it the same way.

    —Sandy May on February 2, 2018
  • Same trick as Pat

    A. Bouwman on February 2, 2018
  • I do the same as Pat, I find it works so much easier visually.

    —Barbara Dahl on February 2, 2018
  • I didn’t have a trick for this until I saw this video. Thank you, Pat!

    —Mary Chasey on February 2, 2018
  • Hi Pat, Fantastic idea. Thanks for the "slick trick"!

    —Patti on February 2, 2018
  • I tend to use the same trick as Pat.

    —Rilla Burnham on February 2, 2018
  • What a great trick. I’m always looking for a better way to cut strips. Thank you Pat. I’m the worlds worst cutter. I almost never make pieced quilts for that reason.

    —Barb W on February 2, 2018
  • Hmmm I like pats…very cool..normally I used my ruler… happyness04431@yahoo.com

    —Anna brown on February 2, 2018
  • Same as Pat!

    —Sharon Groves on February 2, 2018
  • What a simple but BRILLIANT tip! That’s the beauty of reading lots of info on our subject. There is so much to be learned and thankfully plenty of people who’ll share! Love that Pat Sloan! Hugs, Deb

    I completely agree, Deborah – there’s a wealth of information to be learned from so many quilters – sharing that information is the key! –Jenny

    —Deborah Johnson on February 2, 2018
  • I also cut strips this way. Another thing I have started to do is to put a 5 pound weight on the end of the ruler when I am using my long ruler to make long strips. Works great and my ruler doesn’t slip.

    —Joannejoanne_l_ on February 2, 2018
  • I like Pat’s cutting tip. I also use "Jordan Fabrics" putting a weight on the edge of my ruler to control any slipping.

    —Carol Thomas on February 2, 2018
  • I tend to use the lines on the cutting mat, but I also have easy grip on my rulers to prevent slipping. I think Pat is amazing, she passes on knowledge in a simple but not condescending way.

    —suzanne on February 2, 2018
  • I do it like Pat.

    —Peggy on February 2, 2018
  • I use the same method as Pat as it is much easier to see. I like the idea of putting a weight on the end of the ruler as I’m always sipping when cutting.

    —Karen on February 2, 2018
  • When lining up the fabric, I have moved off the edge of the ruler because I thought the edge could be slightly altered by normal and not-so-normal wear and tear. Did not realize I had been doing something right !

    —Sue on February 2, 2018
  • I must have had an extraordinary teacher 20+ years ago when I learned to use a rotary cutter. That is the way she showed me. I thought everyone knew that. I am going to spread the word!

    —JoAnne T. on February 2, 2018
  • I do what Pat does.

    —stephanie woodward on February 2, 2018
  • Same as Pat. It works great.

    —Jo on February 2, 2018
  • I trim as Pat does. Have learned to always use the lines on the ruler, never the lines on the board. This sampler book looks like an awesome project for a beginning Quilter to learn a whole hatful of tricks. A good gift for someone you’re trying to bring into the quilting fold.

    —Deb Smith on February 3, 2018
  • Same as Pat!

    —Linda Towers on February 3, 2018
  • I do it like Pat!

    —Pearl on February 3, 2018
  • Same trick as Pat. Has worked for me every time!

    —kraftykc on February 3, 2018
  • I learned something new today. Love Pat Sloan trick. Will be using it in the future. Thanks Pat💜

    —Gay S King-Brown on February 3, 2018
  • I use the same idea as Pat and I also use a slotted ruler to check sometimes.

    —Kathie Feller on February 3, 2018
  • Pull a thread and see that it is now true

    —Esther on February 3, 2018
  • I use the lines on my ruler, but I am changing to Pat’s way tomorrow.
    Great tip. Thanks

    kathy on February 4, 2018
  • I use the lines on the rotary mat and/or ruler. Thanks for the giveaway

    —Anne on February 5, 2018
  • I love them all, but the Oh Scrap would be my top pick .

    —Kathy Kichan on February 5, 2018
  • Two rulers, at right angles

    —Tamara on February 6, 2018
  • I use an artists T square and the edge of the table.

    CHERYL ENGLAND on February 17, 2018

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