BCQuilter's Weblog

Measure once, cut twice… or is that Measure twice, cut once?

Posted on: 13 December 2010

What is that old carpentry adage? Yup, one should always measure twice, and cut once. This blog post isn’t really about cutting fabric, although, I have to admit, I have made my blunders, not cutting fabric the right size! Instead it is about taking shortcuts, when one really probably shouldn’t.

Shortcuts? Reflecting on this, was it actually that I was trying to cut corners? Or was it that I just didn’t think it through? Or was it that I forgot something? What ever it was, I learned another lesson. Hmm, perhaps I’ve learned this one before. My memory is good, its just short.

Remember that good old blue and yellow string quilt. Well, I’ve been working on the batting. I am using a batting substitute. LOL. What a great way to say I’m recycling or even probably more to the point, repurposing.

I think I mentioned that over the last several months (egad, could it possibly be even, almost a year???), when I realized I wasn’t able to work on quilts as I would like to, because I didn’t have the backing or batting, a dear quilting friend suggested I use an old blanket. Wow… didn’t our ancestors, just might have done the same?

Well, yesterday (Monday), I decided it was time to cut this old wool blanket that another friend gave to me, to fit the quilt. It was an odd size… very long, and narrow. But perfect to be cut to fit the quilt. So, I had it folded in half on the bed, and followed the fold and took a pair of scissors to cut. And then off to the sewing machine I went with it.

And this is where the lesson is learned.

Using the serpentine stitch… its kind of a meandering stitch that uses several stitches to make. Not like the zig-zag, where its once to the left, once to the right, to the left, to the right… you know what I mean.

Well, I was so pleased with myself, that this thing didn’t take long to stitch up… why I didn’t do it sooner, I will never know… err… that’s not true, I worked over 35 hours last week, that is why I didn’t do it sooner. I laid it out on the bed over the quilt backing and top, and was very disappointed. The dang thing had “bubbles”. It’s not puckering, but bubbles. I wish know I had had the wisdom to take a photo, but I was so disgruntled with it, that I balled it up, and figured I’d deal with it another day.

Today was that day. Hmm… seems to me, I recall reading somewhere that using the walking foot, will help sewing batting together. And also having the batting cut with edges overlapping, so they kind of fit together, would also benefit. So, instead of taking the seam ripper, and trying to take out all the stitches, I cut out the join. I then carefully, do you know difficult it is trying to manoeuvre a wool blanket, to lay out on a space that is as big as a large cutting mat (24”x36”)? But I persevered, and in between getting supper prepared, I was able to trim it with the overlapping edges. So far so good. Then its back to the sewing machine, a change in feet to my walking foot. And then start stitching. So far so good. But not for long… it seems my thread snapped. I’m not sure how that happened, but ah well, back track a bit, and then rethread, and away we go again. I was able to finish the join without any further mishap. And you know what I did next? Yup, laid it out on the bed, to see if there were any “bubbles”. And there isn’t any! Woohoo!

Next step is to get this darn thing sandwiched. It is going to be one of the largest (if not the largest) quilt I’ve made, and also the heaviest. With all the extra fabric in the top for the foundations for the string blocks… and this wool blanket. Mmmm… will be nice to be snuggled under it.

That is the latest on me and my quilting adventures!



14 Responses to "Measure once, cut twice… or is that Measure twice, cut once?"

You’ll have to come up with a great name for this quilt — not just blue and yellow string quilt — once you finish. It sounds like you could write a book about the making of it. Very interesting.


I agree, a name it does need, but it hasn’t come to me yet.


Well, I think you could take your choice on the saying. Either you measure twice and cut once, or you may find yourself cutting twice after measuring once (if you have enough fabric, or batting, or whatever you are cutting to cut twice). (Is that confusing or what?) Hope the quilt goes well from here on out! —“Love”

Confusing… not at all. It made perfect sense to me. And as we know, so far with this quilt, it has been not enough!


This quilt has been a real adventure! Sounds like you are making good progress though. I have a queen size top that I need to layer and baste. I keep putting it off because of it’s size. I don’t have an uncarpeted floor space big enough to lay it out. I usually bast my quilts on the kitchen island because it is a perfect height to work on but this quilt is huge. I need to do some figuring as to how to handle it. You have tackled yours, so I should attempt to do mine! Best of luck with the rest of your quilt!

I’m with you. I don’t have the space at all to sandwich a quilt this size on my floor. That is my next challenge… sandwiching!


Hmm, so do we have a picture of the finished quilt? I like the idea of using a recycled blanket. Have to file that idea away under “Looking for”, LOL. Seems I need/promised to do a tutorial on how I sandwich quilts. I make big quilts, too. Just as soon as I get some backing, I will show you how I do it. It may save some backs and you don’t need as much space.


Photo of the finished top and backing are on another blog entry. This quilt is still in progress however… the next challenge – is the sandwiching.


I think the quilts that give us the most trouble also give us the best memories and most satisfaction at having finished them. But those bonuses come after the hard work is over, so hang in there!

I agree with you Katie! I wonder if we purposely make it more of a challenge? Wouldn’t that be something!


Well this quilt is certainly a labour of love, but it’s going to be so very worth while when it’s done!

I’ve always loved ‘heavier’ quilts, the snuggle factor is so much greater. 🙂

Me too! 😀

You always work through your quilt challenges! The quilt will be special when it is time to snuggle under it.
I am pretty sure that Love had a post on her blog about using 2x4s and rolling the quilt as you baste. You don’t have to have all that floor space. Looked like it made the process easier. If it wasn’t on Love’s blog I will go look around. Let me know.

I like the challenges. It helps feed the creativeness in me, which has been lacking for soooo many years. I’m having fun!

Thanks for the suggestion. Sharon Schamber’s has a similar techinque using boards. Not sure if that’s where “Love” got it from or not. Not quite sure how that would work for machine quilting, as I baste with pins.


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