How To: Cut Fabric Like A Pro

Crafting like a Pro

Hi, it’s Esther from whollyKao, back for the next installment of Crafting Like a Pro. Today I’m going to give you tips on how to cut fabric like a pro. The actual cutting part takes no time. It’s all the prep work that is time consuming. But I’ve found that the hard work up front make a more polished piece in the end.

Tip #1 – Prep the fabric
Always make sure you wash and dry your fabric before using it. It’s also a good idea to iron your fabric – it’ll make for a more accurate cut.

Tip #2 – Study the grain
Study your fabric! Which way does the grain go? (Grain refers to the direction of the threads). Most patterns will ask you to cut your fabric along the lengthwise grain. This will matter most for when you work with stretchy fabrics. If you cut along the lengthwise grain, the fabric will stretch properly.

A lot of times, you’ll need to get your fabric back on grain before you can start laying out your pattern. To do this, cut a small slit at one edge of your fabric.

Firmly press down on the fabric with one hand, then take the torn edge with the other and quickly rip the fabric (I like to tear upwards).
What you’re left with is a straight edge of fabric that is on grain.

Tip #3 – Study your fabric’s pattern

Study your fabric before you start pinning. Lay your fabric out, and make sure the pattern on your pieces all face the same direction. Keep your final project in mind while you do this! It’d be sad to finish your piece, only to realize you sewed your pattern upside down.

For large patterns, try to align your pieces so that the pattern on the finished piece is seamless. Your pattern notches will help you achieve this, but if you are freehanding a project, you’ll want to test this out before pinning.

Tip #4 – Pinning

Always pin on top of a flat and hard surface. I’d also suggest using a cutting mat, so that your pins don’t scratch your work surface. Keep the fabric flat while pinning your piece, to keep the fabric true to the pattern. And make sure your pins all face the same direction – that way, they’ll be a lot easier to remove when you start sewing.

Tip #5 – Cutting

Always cut on a hard surface (I’d suggest using a cutting mat on a table). Make sure to keep your fabric and pattern flat on the table while you cut. If you’re a righty, hold the fabric down with your left hand and use your right hand to cut (lefties, do the opposite!). If you’re using a rotary cutter, do the same.

Cut slowly, and use the full length of the shears with each cut. And try to keep your scissors perpendicular to the fabric as you cut.

Above all, relax! You don’t want to give yourself a hand cramp from cutting fabric! :)

And there you have it – how to cut fabric like a pro! I hope this has been helpful! If you have tips of your own, we’d love for you to share them with the Whimseybox community!


  • Reply April 19, 2013


    Though you never say it, I assume (based on pattern pieces) that this is meant for sewing. Though quilters can have “pattern pieces” (templates).

    A lot of quilters actually DON’T prewash when making 100% cotton quilts. It makes for a much crinklier quilt (which I am a fan of!), and the sizing actually helps cut more precise pieces.

    • Reply April 23, 2013


      Hi Dree, thanks for clarifying! This post is definitely geared towards sewing. I have yet to make a quilt, but sounds like you’d be a good person to talk to about it! :)

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