Large Cuts of Fabric - Oh My

Large Cuts of Fabric - Oh My

We often receive requests for "help" in working with large cuts of fabric. Everyone has their own method of managing large pieces of fabric. But we all can help each other by sharing our methods and here is what I do to wash, press, and cut 115" wide batik cotton when preparing it for a tablecloth, quilt backing, or basically anything you wish to cut. 

3 Yards of 115" wide Fabric

We will reference 3 yards of 115" wide fabric throughout this example. Why 3 yards? For only one reason, it's one of the largest cuts of fabric purchased for the back of a quilt, a tablecloth, duvet cover, or curtains. You may be working with more or less yardage, but our techniques remain the same. 

Jump to our YouTube episode if you love video introductions. Click the image below. Or - continue reading below.


YouTube Let's Learn Video


Wash and Dry

Even though fabric care isn't the topic of this blog - caring for our fabric is very important.

Prewashing our batik fabric is simple and the results are spectacular. We recommend Synthrapol.


Synthrapol is a soap added to your washing machine (in place of detergent). There are two versions - regular and low foam. Regular is for top load machines and low foam is specifically designed for low water situations that a front load machine provides. 

Set your machine to extra rinse and warm wash with a cool rinse.

Pull all this fabric out of your washing machine and shake it out as best you can. It's a lot of fabric to handle. I set my laundry basket next to the front of the washing machine and use it as my basket. I shake and shake and shake the fabric. 

Drying this amount of fabric is tricky. It balls up in the dryer and just rolls around drying the outside more than the inside. Here are a few tips...

Set your dryer to a warm setting, but not the top heat setting.

I use timed drying and set it for about 15 minutes. My dryer has an automatic cooling cycle at the end of the 15 minutes. 

Remove the fabric when it feels almost dry, yet still a bit damp. 

Take the large bundle of fabric out of the dryer and lay it out on your bed, or any large surface. We need a large surface to fold the fabric in half and then in half again. Fold the fabric WITHOUT the selvedge edges touching. 

Once the fabric is folded once or twice, finger press along cut edges and selvedge edges to smoothen out any wrinkles or folds caused by the dryer.  This little extra step will reduce the amount of pressing needed. 


Let's Press

Press the FabricAll we need for pressing our fabric is an ironing board and iron that produces steam. I don't use starch, but there are times I use a spray bottle to spritz a bit more water on the fabric. 
Ironing boards are available in primarily three sizes. A wall iron that pulls away from the wall like an arm, a freestanding A-frame, and a large big board measuring 22" x 58". 
The steps I follow to press 3 yards of 115" wide fabric is the same regardless of the size of the ironing surface.  
  • Make sure the fabric is folded nicely. Fold the fabric a size NARROWER than the LENGTH of your ironing board. The fabric should not extend past the edges of the ironing surface. The fabric may be folded once, or twice. I have never folded my fabric three times. 
  • Position your fabric on the ironing board and start pressing. Always make sure there are no creases and avoid pressing through the folds on each side edge. 
  • Continue pressing, advance the fabric across the ironing board, press, advance, press, advance....  until the entire center section is pressed. 

Now it's time to hold up the fabric, open it up and refold. We want to continue pressing another section of the fabric. You may find it easier to take the fabric back to a larger surface (bed/table) to refold. Lay the fabric down, open it and reposition the fold. Take note of where the fabric has been pressed and press the next section. 

Continue this routine until you feel the fabric is adequately pressed. 


Folding & Cutting

We received a customer question, one we are asked over and over again. Her question was "how do I cut 115" wide fabric down to 60" x 90" when the only cutting mat I have is one that measures 18" x 24"?"

This is the reason for this tutorial. 

The answer is in how we fold the fabric. 

I found a cutting mat with the measurements of 18" x 24". In addition we need a rotary cutter, ruler measuring at least 6" x 24", a tape measure measuring at least 60" and a pin. 

  • I always start by folding the fabric WITHOUT the selvedge edges touching. This means, I use the selvedge edge as my straight of grain. [ The cut edges may or may not align because they have not yet been straightened. ]
    • Continue folding until the folded fabric measures 22" or less. 
  • Position the selvedge edge on the cutting mat lining up the folds along the grid of the cutting mat. Cut the selvedge edge off creating a straight cut edge. 

In our example we are using a 60" x 90" measurement. This is what we want to cut from the 3 yards of fabric. 
  • The first measurement we will cut is the shortest measurement - 60". Find your the tape measure and pin. Measure in from the cut edge 30" and insert the pin along the fold.
  • Fold the fabric on top of itself using the pin as your fold mark.
  • Slide the fabric across the cutting mat until you are able to cut the fabric at the 60" mark.
  • Line up your ruler and cut the fabric.
  • Set aside the remaining fabric for another project. Label it with the measurement of 108" x 55". 

Next we need to refold the fabric with the cut edges touching. This time we will cut the fabric down to 90". We will finish with fabric measuring 60" x 90". 

  • Fold the fabric with the newly cut edges touching. Work with the fabric to make sure the fold is straight. 
  • Fold the fabric a second time, keeping the folds straight. 
  • Lineup the folds with the gridlines on the cutting mat and cut away the uneven end of the fabric. Remove as little fabric as you can. 
  • Using the same measure and pin technique, measure in from the newly cut edge 45" and place a pin. 
  • Fold the fabric on top of itself using the pin as your fold mark.
  • Slide the fabric across the cutting mat until you are able to cut the fabric at the 90" mark.  (If your table top is not 45" wide you will need to divide 90 by 3 and measure 30" twice to get to the 90" cut line. )
  • Line up your ruler and cut the fabric.
  • Set aside the remaining fabric for another project. Label it with the measurement of 60" x 18". 

In Summary

When working with large cuts of fabric always remember to fold your fabric to the right size for your work surface. Always remember to keep the fabric flat, unwrinkled, and on grain and the resulting cut will be perfect to the measurements you need. 


Until next time, 

Keep Sewing, Smiling, and Sharing

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