Thursday, 17 March 2011

QAL - cutting fabrics

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Since I designed this quilt with a layer cake in mind, I am going to give instructions for cutting a layer cake (LC) and yardage for the six block version of this quilt and let you know how much you need to cut for the one block version.  If anyone needs more info, measurements, calculations for jelly rolls, fat quarters, fat eighths, long eights, long quarters, yardage, smaller / larger seam allowances etc. the best place to ask those is in the Flickr group.

Fancy a Quilt-A-Long?


For the skinny scrappy strips which frame the dresden circle, you will need 72 strips of fabric 10" x 1" which contrast with the background.  With a LC, 36 of these come from the top cut off the LC slices and the remaining 36 strips come from 4-6 LC slices cut into 1" strips.

For the one block version you need 12 skinny strips.


For the 6 block version, you need 126 dresden leaves and 21 for the one block version.  I only cut 18 of these per block from the LC and cut the remaining three from the background yardage so that there are enough LC slices left for skinny strips.

1.   Remove 6 slices of the LC (for the skinny sashing) leaving 36 LC slices for the dresdens.   Choose 6 which contrast with the background fabric you have chosen so that the skinny sashing stands out from the background.  Put these to one side for later.

TOP TIP: remove these carefully to avoid disturbing the layer cake - this makes cutting the dresden leaves in batches much easier.

2.   Place the remaining LC slices on your cutting mat in piles of as many as you are happy to cut in one go (I am brave and do eight in one go).

TOP TIP: Cut one LC slice first so you know what you are doing and then cut in batches.

3.   Cut a one inch strip off the end of the LC slices. Put these to one side for later.

4.   Place the LC slices so that they line up with the inch lines on the cutting mat and line the middle line of the template up with the middle line of the LC slices. 

5.   Cut along the lines of the template.

6.   Then cut one more leaf from each of the remaining pieces.

This will give you 18 dresden leaves for each of the 6 dresden circles.  The remaining 3 dresden leaves for each circle will be cut from the background fabric after the inner and outer circles have been cut.


For the six block version you need 24 outer circle segments and 4 for the one block version.

TOP TIP: Before cutting the inner and outer circle templates, make a trial dresden circle from 21 leaves  and measure the diameter of the inner and outer circles once the dresden leaf circle is pressed.  Different cutting lines are marked on the templates for different inner and outer dresden leaf circle diameters.

TOP TIP: Place dresden right side down and press seams anti-clockwise.

1.   Cut 4 WOF strips of background 16" deep.  This means that you cut from one selvedge to the other (pretend you are working in a fabric shop) and cut 4 pieces of fabric 16" long and as wide as the fabric from selvedge to selvedge.

2.   Cut those pieces of fabric into 3 equal rectangles of 14" X 16" - so cut the fabric into three 14" lengths.

TOP TIP: measure the fabric before you take off the selvedges - some fabrics are only just 42" wide without the selvedges so you will need to cut accurately.

3.   Pin the Outer Circle templates (I made a spare from newspaper) so that they line up along the edges of the fabrics as shown and cut along the curved lines with scissors.  I pin and cut four 14" X 16" rectangles in one go.

TOP TIP: If you have a directional background fabric, make sure you cut six top left, six top right, six bottom left and six bottom right templates.  To do this, cut half the rectanges with the templates as shown below and half with the diagonal gap going from top left to bottom right.


Cut 18 2" WOF strips for the sashing on each block (3 for the one block version).


You need 6 inner circles for the six block version and one for the one block version.

Cut 6 circles from the remaining background fabric using template QAL2.  You can make a freezer paper template and iron it on for accurate cutting or a paper template and pin it to several layers to cut more in one go.


Cut 12 from the ovals left when you cut the Outer Circles out and 6 from remaining background yardage.

If you make any horrible cutting mistakes and start to feel anxious and tearful, head straight over to the Flickr group ideally with a photo of the cutting mistake and I and probably everyone else will come up with a myriad of solutions because we've all been there, all of us more than once and some of us more times than we care to remember. 


  1. Lovely clear instructions Lynne, thankyou!

  2. Well, that looks simple enuf. *L*

  3. Great instructions, can't wait to get started!
    Happy St.Patrick's Day to you!

  4. so efficient! that is a great design for a fabric miser like me :)

  5. Yea! I'm glad you posted early. I was getting antsy. :) Looks great!

  6. You have made the directions to clear and easy to understand!! Thanks!

    I'd like to invite you to enter my blog giveaway to win a $50. gift card!

  7. Coo, that looks a bit complicated, though the directions are clear enough. Perhaps I'll cut my yardage into layer cake sizes first so that I can follow your directions more easily.

  8. what a great set of instructions, Lynne ... You are the best!

  9. TOP TIPS - Love'em!!! I haven't studied in detail, b/c this project has to wait until I'm back from the Florida sun, but all of the photos and tips look great, Lynne! I love it that you salvaged the leftover eye shapes and turned them into more blades! Yay for saving precious fabric.

    Happy St. Paddys day it's well into the evening in the UK, so you may already be way beyond measuring and rotary cutting-safe. Therefore, I hope you are eating/drinking all kinds of delicious green things and NOT risking fingertips while quilting.

  10. Thanks Lynne, the directions are clear and I love how you use the leftover bits too. I should be able to do that without too many tears, lol!

  11. Broke my favourite rotary cutter tonight... wonder where the not so favourite one is hiding?

    Thanks for the instructions!

  12. I don't have any time for this, yet I'm so drawn to it ...
    I have to try at least one!

  13. I'm convinced that this can't be as straight forward as your instructions make it out to be. Guess I'll find out soon enough!


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