Once your quilt has been quilted, it’s time to trim the excess batting and backing off of your quilt so it is ready to be bound. This process is called squaring up a quilt.
Squaring up your quilt after quilting it is an important step in the quilt making process. It’s essential to trim off the excess batting and backing so that you can properly attach the binding to your quilt. Without binding, your quilt will fray and fall apart quickly.
A square quilt will also help the quilt lay smooth and flat. If your quilt isn’t square, it can be tugged and pulled when you’re binding the quilt and you may end up with a quilt that curls up at the edges instead of one that lays flat on your bed.
While having a slightly wonky quilt isn’t the worst thing, it is nice to know how to trim things up accurately. After all, we do want our quilts to look nice and reflect the number of hours that we put into them!
Check out my in-depth photo tutorial below to learn how to square a quilt! Today’s tutorial shows you how to square a quilt before adding binding, but this method works the same for squaring up individual quilt blocks and your quilt top, too!
For this tutorial, you do not need any additional supplies. The supplies that you used to make your quilt will be all that you need to square up your quilt.
- your quilted quilt sandwich (quilt top, batting, and backing)
- a cutting mat
- a rotary cutter
- a large quilting ruler (rectangle or square)
Because the 6” x 24” quilting ruler is the most popular size, I’m going to show today’s tutorial using my 6″ x 24″ quilting ruler. Squaring a quilt is even easier if you use a large square ruler in addition to your 6″ x 24″ ruler. The 12.5″ square ruler by Creative Grids is a great option if you’re wanting to invest in a large square ruler.
Before we get started we want to get our workspace ready. How you set up your cutting station will depend on the size of your finished quilt. The quilt that I’m squaring up is 60”x70”, so I’ve moved my cutting mat to the floor to make things easier for me.
If you are using a tabletop for your cutting station, make sure that your quilt is not hanging off of the table to ensure that you get a nice and even cut. If part of your quilt is hanging off of the table, you may get an inaccurate cut because the quilt is pulling and dragging where it normally would not be.
To help you keep your quilt on your cutting surface, try rolling the side of the quilt that you’re not cutting. You can also push your ironing board close to your cutting surface so that your ironing board can help support the weight of the quilt.
One more thing to note before we get started is that your quilt top will likely be pulled in and stretched out along the edges of your quilt before you square it up. When you’re squaring your quilt, you are getting rid of these pulls and stretches so that your quilt top has a nice even edge.
Depending on how distorted your quilt top is, you may need to cut into your quilt more deeply than you’d like. This is completely normal! To prevent needing to do this in the future, try adding a quilt border or widening your quilt borders to account for these inconsistencies.
If this is the first time you’re squaring a quilt, don’t worry about it! If a point or two of your quilt blocks get cut off, that’s perfectly okay and your end result will still be a gorgeous quilt.
Now let’s get started!
How to Square a Quilt Top
Step 1: Lay a corner of your quilt on your cutting mat. Make sure that the corner of the quilt is laying completely flat on your cutting mat. I also like to double check that the area I want to trim has the cutting mat underneath it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally cut off of my mat when trimming a quilt!
Step 2: Place your ruler on the corner of your quilt. Double-check that both edges of your ruler are on top of your quilt fabric, not the batting.
Step 3: Trim the fabric along both edges of your ruler. This step will ensure that your quilt has a perfect 90 degree angle at the corner
HELPFUL TIP: If small amounts of batting are still showing after you trim your quilt, that is okay! Sometimes your quilt top gets pulled too far in some spots during the quilting process and this is unavoidable. As long as the batting can be covered by your binding, you won’t even notice it’s there.
Step 4: Choose one side of your quilt to continue trimming. I’m going to rotate my quilt counter clockwise in my tutorial because that feels the most natural for me.
Step 5: Line up the long edge of your ruler with the 90 degree angle that you just cut. Line up the long side of the ruler with your quilt top fabric.
Step 6: Trim along the edge of your quilting ruler.
Step 7: Repeat step 6 until you get close to the next corner of your quilt. As you continue to trim the side of your quilt, keep repositioning your quilt so that it lays flat on your cutting surface and none of the quilt is hanging off of your tabletop.
Step 8: Once you get close to the next corner of your quilt, repeat steps 2-7 of this process. Repeat these steps until all four sides of your quilt are trimmed.
HELPFUL TIP: You may be able to save the scraps from this project! If you’re into saving scraps of fabric and batting, use your seam ripper to separate the leftover backing fabric from the batting and add these pieces to your scrap piles.
Now you know exactly what steps to take to square up your quilt. This process definitely takes practice and don’t get down on yourself if your quilt isn’t perfectly square. Let’s be real, as long as it’s all in one piece and won’t fall apart, I consider that a successful quilt! My quilts are never perfectly square, and that’s what makes them perfectly handmade!
Pin this tutorial to your Pinterest board for later so you can reference it the next time you’re squaring up a quilt.