Wednesday, June 6, 2012

{Zig Zag Quilt Along}: Cutting Your Fabric

Welcome everyone!!! I am so excited that the quilt along officially starts today! For those that are quilting along with me- thanks for putting your faith in me to help you make this zig zag quilt. And for those that are just following along to see how it goes, I hope that this quilt along will inspire you to make a quilt- even if it isn't this quilt.

I just want to start off by reminding everyone that I am not a quilting expert, but I am going to do my best to teach you how I made my zig zag quilt. Keep in mind that I am a beginning quilter so if I teach you to do something and you have a better way of doing it, by all means, totally do it your way! I am still learning the ropes and figuring things out as I go. 

I have to give a big thanks to the woman who inspired me to make a quilt and provided the perfect step by step tutorial that gave me the quilting bug- Amy of Diary of a Quilter. Her blog amazes me and inspires me so much! I will probably be referring to tips and tricks I learned from her along the way- so thanks in advance Amy!!

Before we start cutting, I just wanted to say that in the supply list I provided last week- the amounts that I listed are pretty much exactly the amounts that you will need for this quilt almost to the inch. Which means that there really isn't room for error when cutting. Now I am not telling you guys this to discourage you at all! I just wanted to give you the heads up that if you didn't order a little extra to give you some leeway- make sure that you are cutting correctly and save yourself a lot of headache!! Take it from me! I have made mistakes when cutting so many times and it is so frustrating! Ok... with that said- Let's begin.

You will need a cutting mat, straight edge ruler, and rotary cutter for this portion of the quilt along.

To start, you are going to take your layer cake and separate it into 6 different piles- 7 squares to a pile.

Each layer cake will have different colors to it. In my first 5 piles, I was able to do a red stack, 2 green stacks, a brown stack, a yellow/orange stack but then for the 6th stack I had kinda random colors mixed together. That is totally fine- your 6th stack will be the zags on the side of the quilt that fill in so it is ok if you have 3 of one color and 4 of another because you will be splitting the stack in half and using it on opposite sides of the quilt- hope that makes sense. I will explain more as we lay out the quilt. If your layer cake only has 2 or 3 colors in it- no worries!! You will just do every other color- ex: red, green, yellow, red, green yellow, etc.

If you are not using a layer cake you will need 42- 10x10 inch pieces of fabric separated into 6 piles.

Once you have your piles all separated out, you are going to cut each of the squares on the diagonal to create 2 triangles. Use your cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter for this step. Do your best to cut each square as precisely as possible.

 Each square will give you 2 triangles- so when you are done, you should have 84 triangles in all.

 When I am cutting, I keep my fabrics separated in colors so that it is easier for me to lay out once I am done cutting. I stack my piles like this to keep them separated.

Once your triangles are cut and stacked, set them aside for a moment.

Ok... for this next cutting, since it is just cutting your fabric in strips, I didn't take pictures. 

You will be separating the cutting into 4 piles:
Quilt Binding: 1/2 yard fabric
Small Sashing (small border): 1/2 yard fabric
Large Sashing (large border): 1 1/4 yard fabric
Quilt Backing: 4 to 4 1/4 yards fabric

Quilt Binding: With the 1/2 yard of fabric, you will need to cut 7 strips that are 2.5 inches by the width of fabric (44 inches)- set aside once cut.

Small Sashing: With the 1/2 yard of fabric you will need to cut 6 strips that are 2 inches by the width of fabric (44 inches)- set aside once cut.

Large Sashing: With the 1 1/4 yard of fabric you will need to cut 7 strips that are 6 inches by the width of fabric (44 inches)- set aside once cut.

Quilt Backing: With the 4 1/4 yards of fabric, you will need to cut the fabric exactly in half. Then you will have two pieces that you will sew together to create your backing- it should look like this once you cut it. 
(you should have 2 pieces that are 76.5x44 inches)

Ok... once you are done with cutting your fabric, you can either be done for this week, or you can do a little prep work to make next week's portion of the quilt along (piecing the quilt) go quicker. 

Take your triangles and lay them out in the zig zag pattern. Start with one color at a time. Your zig zag should look like this

Use your first 5 stacks of triangles and get the first 5 rows laid out.

Then take that 6th pile and split it in half. This worked perfectly for me because half of my stack was redish colors and the other half of the stack was greenish colors, so I used the green fabrics on the left side of the quilt and used the red fabrics on the right side of the quilt to fill in the gaps and make the quilt square instead of zig zagged edges.

Once you have your zig zagged part all laid out the way you want it, you are going to gather up the triangles in order so that you can sew them together next week. I like to use the cardboard tray that the layer cake comes on to stack the triangles on. I start by laying the first two triangles that need to be sewn together...

Then I alternate the way the triangles are are facing and lay the next two that need to be sewn together and keep alternating each pair of triangles until I have the first row all piled up. Then I use a sticky note or a piece of paper and lay it on top of the last pieces that need to be sewn together for the 1st row. Then I start stacking the next row on top of the piece of paper, alternating the triangles each time to keep them separate, add the sticky note at the end of the row, then do the next row, and the next until I have the entire zig zag triangles stacked. (just make sure that you start at the top of the quilt and work your way down when stacking, or visa versa, but go the same direction for each row so that your fabric isn't mixed up and that you will be able to lay it out exactly how you had it in the first place) Once you have them all stacked, set your  triangles and other cut fabric aside and take a deep breath... You are done until next week!!! Not so bad right?? :)

We will meet back here next Wednesday for the next portion of the quilt along- Piecing the Quilt Top!! 

Any questions?? Feel free to leave them in the comments- but make sure your email is attached so I can answer them directly- or just shoot me an email with any questions you may have- mommybydaycrafterbynight {at} gmail {dot} com

And a super big thank you to our sponsor 

And be sure to check out Rach's darling Ruffle Quilt over at Family Ever After!


  1. Wow! just found this! I'm going to get a layer cake today & participate. Thanks!

  2. Silly question:

    My Riley Blake layer cakes have scalloped edges. Do I need to trim these first or just cut and lay it out as is? Thanks Ashley! I'm so excited to make the quilt!

    Jill @ Create.Craft.Love.

    1. Totally not a silly question! All layer cakes come with pinked edges so that the fabric does fray... so just leave the edges pinked and do your cutting on the diagonal for the triangles! :)

  3. So excited to get started on this. Now, on to narrowing down my choice of layer cake. This is going to be tough :)

  4. I can't wait to get started! My layer cake (Good Fortune by Kate Spain for Moda!) and fabric for the sashings and binding came in last night and I LOVE them. I haven't bought fabric for the backing yet. Do you think Joann's Cozy Flannel would work for the backing? It seems like it would be nice and cuddly, but I'm not sure if it is durable enough, etc.

    Megan (

    1. Ashley I have the same question as Megan. Would flannel or minky fabric be okay for the backing?

      Jen (

    2. I think flannel would work great. I used minky on. My Hello Luscious Zig Zag quilt and it worked great... Since it is a little on the stretchy side it was kinda more difficult to work its and very heavy, but iif you don't mind fighting with it w bit it is definitely worth it in the end I think!

  5. I am so excited!! Instead of ordering the layer cake, I went with the regular fabric. I got it all cut up last night! I was checking your blog frequently late last night hoping that you would post the next set of instructions early...I guess I know where my 4 year old gets her lack of patience! I can't get over how pumped I am to get started! I will be posting my progress along with you on my blog. I have told everyone to get over here and Quilt Along too!!
    (You are fantastic by the way! LOVE your blog!!)


  6. great job with all those pics and notes!

  7. Great pictures, instructions, and tips Ashley! I can't wait to get home and start cutting up my layer cake! I am using Riley Blake Indian Summer, I hope it works well for this pattern.

  8. The only complaint that I have is that I'm too darn enthusiastic! lol My pieces are cut, I've done the sneak peak step and pre-pieced the quilt, and I'm ready to go...haha thanks for the in depth pics and instructions!

  9. Thanks for the great step by steps. I got all mine cut today and I think I'll lay them out tomorrow. Can't wait til next week.

  10. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to follow! Very easy to follow! I can't wait to get to cutting!!

  11. My fabric's cut out... from my stash. It's my first time using a rotary cutter and I still have 10 fingers... LOL!!!

  12. My fabrics cut (finally) and I can't wait to start putting it together.

  13. Just finished :) I ordered new fabric for the large sashing and the back but everything else is from my stash! I used only florals, it should be bright and crazy!!


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I honestly love reading every single one! If you have a question you would like answered- be sure to include your email so that I can get back to you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great day!
xoxo, Ashley