10 Simple Things (9) - Trim Your Quilts Well

finishing tips Feb 08, 2024

Squaring up quilts scares a lot of people. Try rephrasing it to trimming your quilts.

Truth be told, it is one of my most favourite parts of quilt making. To me, it is the moment when all the pieces come together, all the parts of the process, to make it into a quilt. It's when I see it as a quilt. Needless to say, I get super excited when I clean off the cutting table and bring out my big ruler. Sure, there are folks who get fancy with laser squares and floor layouts and stacked rulers. Unless you are making a show quilt, though, all of that plus any related stress is unnecessary. If that quilt is going to get used, cuddled, and a washed, then it being even a few inches out of square is irrelevant to its purpose. 

That being said, you do want to trim it well. That means using a ruler and a sharp rotary cutter. Use the longest ruler you have. As you move around the quilt overlap the ruler on uncut and already cut parts. This helps maintain your straight line. If you have a quilt with points on the edge and you are worried about losing them try this trick. Line up your cut edge about an 1/8" up to 1/4" away from the quilt edge, on the batting. This gives you wiggle room for attaching your binding without cutting off your points. It also gives you a nice full binding. 

Finally, think of trimming your quilt as giving you a single line for binding success. You now have a straight line to follow. I've even been known to attach my binding before I trim, then using the seam line as a 'ruler'. Something to consider.