Charm squares and other pre cuts. Cut your own from your fabric stash.
Some years back, when fabric companies began offering pre cut fabrics, such as charm squares – 5″ squares, mini charms – 2 1/2″ squares and layer cakes – 10″ squares, I thought “What a great idea!”
The absolutely wonderful part of it is, that you can come home with your fabric and start sewing.
However what about all the fabric that has already been purchased?
Not to be morbid at all, but it had began to cross my mind that I might not live long enough to use all my fabric!
Another point of discussion is, I am a washer. Some people wash their fabric when they bring it home and others do not. Having started my sewing journey with dressmaking, it was imperative to wash fabric before it was cut out. Nothing worse than going to the trouble of making a garment, to then have it shrink after the first wash, because the fabric was not washed before cutting.
In the past, there was probably more of an issue with dyes running than there is now, but it’s something to consider, especially dark fabrics and reds.
Once the fabric is pre washed, then the shrinkage will be little or none. If they are washed I consider all the fabrics are on the same playing field (from the point of view of shrinkage), plus they have been cleaned of size , chemicals and dust.
I believe the non washers like the extra stiffness that the fabric holds before it is washed – but you really can’t wash pre cuts. That is completely impractical and defeats the purpose. If you are a washer like me then you can always use a bit of fabric stiffener if necessary. (I never do)
So if you are a quilter it’s probably good to decide if you are going to be a washer or not. When my fabric comes home, I put them through a gentle wash, then dry and fold so I can see what’s available.
Anyhow, getting back to the pre cuts, I thought,what if I just pre cut my own fabrics. So I started with the five” squares (also known as charm squares). I had a couple of initial sessions of cutting up small amounts of fabric into 5″ squares. A bit tentative at first. I quickly worked up a stack from those. Then I thought I would choose some from a particular colour way, like pink, cut them up and add to the stash of pre cut 5″ squares.
The great thing is I believe, that encouraged me to think of what I can do, rather than what I might make, because when the fabric is already cut, then anytime I want to do some piecing, I just go right ahead. If I want to make an experimental block, I can get right to it, rather than dragging out yardage before I can start. Suddenly it’s easy to sew up a few blocks, in a short space of time. From there I started cutting up all sizes of squares and strips.
Now when I finish a quilt, I can’t wait to cut up the leftovers into usable size pieces to incorporate into another project. I basically start with the largest sized pieces I can cut and then go down in size to 1 1/2″ square. Even if there is only a few of one size, that’s okay because it just increases the scrappy mixture. It’s much more satisfying to look at a stack of pre cut squares than a bag of potential “rubbish”. I sort all the pieces, size wise, ready for use. It definitely feels more efficient too.
As an example, would you be surprised to know that this bag of fabric string scraps by weight, contains about 3 metres of fabric!