Please keep in mind that I am not a certified quilt instructor. (is there such a title?) But I do what works for me. My methods may not always be 100% proper but they get the results that I want. If you have another method that you like, then take my tutorials as food for thought, but do what works best for you.
First things first - do yourself a favor and use a new or almost new blade in your rotary cutter! It will help you so much in making good, clean cuts! If you have to make two or more firm passes across your fabric to get through it, you need a new blade! OK - here we go!
I cut the initial strips individually if going from selvage to selvage. Since my cutting mat is 24", I fold the fabric into thirds so I can cut it in one pass. Be careful when folding, if your fabric shifts, you'll end up with a crooked strip! Then you'll be having to realign it over and over while you are making your future cuts. I know this from experience!
If I have shorter pieces of fabric, I stack them no more than 4 layers and make the cut. The more layers you cut, the more chance the fabric will shift and your strips will come out crooked or narrow.
Extra fabric is neatly set aside in case I need to cut more strips. I try to keep those cut edges lined up so it doesn't need much straightening out if I have to cut more later.
The strips get put right sides together, sewn, and pressed open, all as per the mystery's instructions.
They are paired up, right sides together. You feel the seams snugging up together when you do this step. Love that!
This is the neat part that makes the cutting go really quick. I place the paired sets on the mat so they are staggered up the mat. Here's two sets staggered in that layout. Under the middle green strip, there are 4 layers of fabric. The next strip set will go on top of the upper orange strip, and so on.
You can stagger as many sets as you are comfortable cutting. I like to do five sets. It's easier counting them out into sets of 10 after they're cut.
Line up the left edge along the proper line on the ruler, in this case it's on the 2" line. It's good to try to have the sewing lines on the fabric under a number line. See them under the 10" and 12" lines? You can be pretty confident that you'll wind up with an even rectangular piece when it's cut! Hold that ruler down firmly and make your cutting pass.
Now the pieces are ready to be sewn into the beloved 4-patch!
If you are a beginner or are interested in a simple 5-clue mystery project, I have one in the Mystery Projects tab on my blog called Ringing in the New Year! All the clues can be found in the 2013 dates that are in the post.
I hope this little tutorial is helpful. Sometimes visuals are better than imagining the steps. If you enjoy my posts, consider following my blog and visiting my Facebook page! E-see you later!