The Strip Tube Ruler.. My favorite ruler ever!

National Sewing Month 2013

Daniela StoutHello!  My name is Daniela Stout and I am thrilled to be part of this month long cutting event with Moda. I own Cozy Quilt Shop (which is outside San Diego, CA) and Cozy Quilt Designs (a pattern, book and ruler publishing company.) And I love strips! Today I want to show you the most brilliantly simple invention that makes quick work of strips, turning them into gorgeous blocks in no time at all.

We call it the Strip Tube Ruler and my mom made me do it.

Quick sidebar: It’s true… my mom made me do this. When we started writing patterns for 2½” strips we used this tube technique with a square up ruler. Then one day my mom (and then primary sample maker) said we should create a ruler to make it easier. Naturally, I ignored her. (Just like your kid, huh?) But then a customer said the same thing! Then my husband made us a prototype, found a company here in the States to make it, and a best-selling item was born.

And if you don’t mind a shameless plug.. this mom of mine is Georgette Dell’Orco and she is way talented in her own right, creating some of our best-selling patterns. She even digitizes quilting patterns for the terrific computerized quilting machines out there. Check her out at

Now.. back to the ruler. How does it work, you ask? It’s easy.. .and sooo versatile!  Today, I am going to quickly show you just one way to use it.

First. Sew two 2½” print strips together (a “print strip” is a strip from a bundle like a Jelly Roll). Press the seam in one direction. Next sew a print strip to a 2½” background strip to make another set. Again, press in one direction, preferably to the dark.

Place the two sets right sides together and sew a tube by stitching a ¼” seam on the top and a ¼” seam on the bottom. A tube? Yes. Trust the process. 🙂

Place the 5½” line of the Strip Tube Ruler on the bottom STITCHING line. Cut up and down to cut out a triangle.

Now pull the triangle away from your tube and open to reveal a diagonally pieced square that measures 5½” square. BRILLIANT!

Next time you cut, place the ruler on the top stitching line (make fresh cuts) to reveal another triangle that opens to a perfect 5½” square! 
You see how this goes… continue down your strip to cut out a bunch of triangles that open to perfect squares… making fresh cuts, now.
Notice the fabrics are the same but in different placements? Sort them into two piles as pictured.
Arrange your fabrics as you desire and sew the four blocks together. Below is my very favorite block (which I regretfully named the Daniela Block. Why did I do that again?)
Now… let’s see how it looks when you put 40 strips, some background and the tube technique all together using this technique.

Do you love it?  Do you want the pattern? Well! I invite you to subscribe to my eNewsletter and you can have this pattern I call Strip It Tube It for FREE!  Click here to subscribe.
So in this sample we used the 4½” measurement, but The Strip Tube Ruler goes up to 9½”… so you can just imagine the possibilities are endless.
And for more ideas check out these other patterns by Cozy Quilt Designs that use the tube technique with 2½” strips.




Parallel Universe
Parallel Universe

Lotus Blossom
Lotus Blossom

Paradise Found





Need more inspiration? Come visit our Strip Tubing feature page and meet the baby brother, Strip Tube Junior.
Now if you are still reading this, you get bonus information! On our Strip Tubing feature page is a link to “The Chart”… this handy pdf will tell you how you can use this technique to cut out regular half square triangles!! Sweet stuff. And if you want to make your own designs, it will tell you what size tube to make!
So hey, one more thing… if you like videos, visit our YouTube Channel to see me in action. I debut a Strip Pattern a month… And many of them use the tube technique!
So that’s me and the Strip Tube technique. Hope you love it as much as I do…
I will be giving away one of these wonderful rulers to one lucky winner! To enter please leave a comment telling me your favorite Cozy Quilt Designs pattern. Feel free to use one I mentioned or pictured in this post or maybe you even have a favorite in your own library.

You will have until September 30th (That’s TODAY!) at midnight to comment. All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda…The Cutting Table Blog on October 2nd.

Time to TWIST!

National Sewing Month 2013

Welcome Moda Cutting Table Fans,

     My name is Marsha Bergren and I am the designer of the “Twister” tools and books.  Other people also call me the “Twister Lady”, usually when they come into my quilt shop, Country Schoolhouse, in Superior, WI. 

    You have to bear with me as this is only the 2nd time (1st time was about 5 yrs ago) I’ve ever even attempted to write a blog!  I have to thank Moda’s social media people for taking  my words and pictures and making it into a blog.  As you can tell I am way behind in the social media world. 

   The Lil’ Twister was made for my customers.  I wanted them to have an easier way to make those darling pinwheels that I love.  The old way with going through all the steps took way too much time and was very frustrating as your template moved on the fabric and slid on the seams.  I made it (after several prototypes) using 1/4” acrylic so you wouldn’t shave the sides off with your cutter. I have a printer who uses an ink that won’t come off easily and the bumpers are made in the USA which keep the tool from slipping and raises it above the seams and it is all made locally.  We kept to 1 set of lines so no one would get confused lining up the marks with the seams.

   I started with the “Lil Twister” and designed it to be used with pre-cut charms and the “Twister” which used layer cakes.  This made it really fast and easy to arrange the blocks, put the pinwheel border around and then cut it and put it back together forming all those great pinwheels.  The latest member to the family is the “Midi Twister” which uses 6 1/2” squares which is the size of a lot of borders.  Just save the border scraps and you can use the “Midi” with those.

   The books came about as people wanted patterns to use with them.  The books go in order of difficulty – Let’s Twist is the introductory book and just has 1 pattern that uses both tools together;  Let’s Twist….Again is the 2ndbook and uses both tools in making most of the patterns and introduces “disappearing pinwheels” which allow you to take make a picture of an object using pinwheels and background.  The 3rdbook “ Let’s Twist…One More Time” is the book that has a lot more disappearing pinwheels and patterns where the fabrics are not pre-cut but selected by the quilter to go together in the quilt.  I am trying to work on another book where I will use all 3 tools together, but have had it in my head for about 6 months and not all on paper yet…..we’ll see when that gets done!

   I use an Olfa straight handle cutter to cut my pinwheels.  I like it as I can cut all around a piece and not have to move.  The pictures below show how I do it.  You can use either a 45 or 60mm.  I found it works best if I stand up and am over what I am cutting so the cutter is always cutting straight down and not at an angle.

Starting in a corner, putting the black lines of the Lil’ Twister 
over the seam lines on the pieced table topper.


This is the first cut on the side.

2nd cut along the top.
  3rd cut coming down along the side.



4th cut along the bottom.

I also typically alternate lights and to get a lot of pop from the pinwheels.  I have used fabrics that are just a shade in difference throughout a piece and that gives the look of a color wash and is also quite lovely.  It is a lot of fun to just experiment with various types, colors, and patterns of fabrics – let loose and just go for it!  I also pick a fairly quiet pinwheel border that is usually a marble, grunge, or solid and one that is not next to a block that is the same color, etc. 

   Once a full row is cut, sew it together matching the fabrics which are next to each pinwheel



This is the row just before you sew it. 

This is the row with the blocks sewn together. 

   After cutting the 2ndrow, sew the 1st and 2nd row together.  The pinwheels are then made obvious.  At this point most people understand the concept and then begin to pile and mark the rows and then sit down at the machine and sew all the rows at same time. 




shows 2 rows sewn together.


   Disappearing pinwheels are really fun to do.  I’ve described how to do them in my 2nd and 3rd books.  I use a graph and then take an object that I want to replicate and convert it into x’s on my graph.  It is a bit of hit and miss for some of  them.  I do have a pile of ones that didn’t work!  See the example below of the graph and then the picture of what it looks like made up.

   If you have never tried this technique before, you need to be warned that it is addicting!  There are many patterns out there that have been made using my twisters.  I only know of a few of those designers myself, but a lot of people send me a picture of what they have done or seen done.  I don’t have any idea how many patterns are out there as I have no time to spend on the internet searching for them.  I did see a picture of a “Twister” quilt that won the Grand Prize at the MN State Fair.  I am working on 2 samples for my shop right now….Quilt Moments  “Twister Sparkler” quilt which I am using Bella Solids in reds, greens and black in it and “Stubby Toe Stocking” from Bean Counter using the charm pack called Blitzen.                           


Here is another pretty Twister quilt made by Moda Lissa
You can see her take on the Twister ruler on her blog!

   Try the “Twisters” and feel free to send me a picture of what you have done and someday when I learn to post them to Facebook I will put them up.  You can like me on Facebook here
   I will be giving away one of my Twister tools to one lucky winner!  To enter please leave a comment about your favorite tools.  You will have until September 30th at midnight to comment.  All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda….The Cutting Table Blog on October 2nd.  Make sure to visit the blog every day for the opportunity to win each giveaway!!

Let’s talk about rulers!

National Sewing Month 2013

Hey there, friends. It’s Kim B. here; I’m part of the Prym Consumer USA team and I write the Dritz® Make Something blog. I’m thrilled to be participating in the Moda “Measure Twice, Cut Once” series, and I’m even more excited to share some information with you about our Omnigrid® rulers – a very appropriate set of tools for this series, don’t you think?! 

Quilters and teachers really covet their Omnigrid rulers. Want to know why? Simply put, because they provide unmatched accuracy.  Here are some things you might not know about Omnigrid rulers:

  • They are laser cut to within .002 inch accuracy – they’re consistent from ruler to ruler;
  • They feature uniquely patented double-site lines; the grid lines show up on light and dark fabrics;
  • Printing on their underside eliminates viewing distortion;
  • They’re made of durable, premium quality acrylic;
  • They feature smooth laser cut edges.

Are you excited yet?

Omnigrid rulers come in a variety of sizes, and I’m going to talk about some of the most popular ones and how they’re used.  The first one is the 6” x 24” which is a basic all-purpose ruler, perfect for beginners. It’s great for cutting long strips, borders and bias pieces. (AND … it’s a ruler in the giveaway!)

First Cut – straighten raw edges

  1. Fold fabric in half lengthwise.
  2. Place ruler on right edge of fabric (opposite for left handers).
  3. Line up grid lines on the width of the ruler with fold in fabric.
  4. Rotary cut along edge of ruler, walking your fingers and thumb across ruler as you cut – apply firm pressure.

Cutting Strips – quiltmaking

  1. Turn cutting mat so fabric is on right (opposite for left handers).
  2. Place ruler over cut edge of fabric at desired width. Make sure vertical lines of ruler are parallel to the cut edge of fabric.
  3. Horizontal lines of ruler should be parallel to fold of fabric.
  4. Cut fabric strip.

The 6” x 12” ruler is a handy size for classes. It’s ideal for cutting folded fat quarters into strips or making secondary cuts on strips.
Making a Pinwheel Block

  1. Cut strips of fabric in two colors.
  2. Layer strips together and subcut into squares the same width as strips.
  3. To cut half-square triangles, place 45° angle line of ruler along edge of square. Cut diagonally through center of each.
  4. Sew one triangle of each color together, on long sides, to create a square. Arrange squares so colors are alternating to create a pinwheel design, and stitch together.

The 3” x 18” ruler is portable, with extra length for versatility. Great for cutting sashing with ease!

Making a Four-Patch Block

  1. Cut two strips of fabric in two different colors.
  2. Stitch together on long edge, and press seams.
  3. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  4. Sew together two of the subcut pieces, rotating one piece 180° to form a four-patch square.

Making Strip-Pieced Diamonds

  1. Cut two strips of fabric in two different colors.
  2. Stitch together on the long edge and press seams.
  3. Place 45° angle line on ruler along the edge of your fabric.
  4. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  5. Sew together two of the subcut pieces, rotating one piece 180° to form diamond.

The 4” x 14” ruler is quick and easy to manipulate. Cut folded fat quarters into strips.

Making a Simple Seminole Design

  1. Cut four strips in four different fabrics.
  2. Stitch strips together on long edge, and press seams.
  3. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  4. Position strips to create a multi-color diamond effect. Stitch together.

The 12-1/2” square ruler squares up blocks 12-1/2” and smaller. It’s one of the most common block sizes!

Now that you’ve got some Omnigrid rulers know-how, let’s talk about InvisiGrip. It’s a clear, non-slip material that you apply to your rulers to prevent slipping when rotary cutting. Nifty, huh?  

To celebrate the “Measure Twice” rule, we’re giving away one 6” x 24” Omnigrid ruler and one package of Omnigrid InvisiGrip to one lucky winner!  To enter please leave a comment with an answer to this question: What is your favorite Omnigrid ruler and what do you use it for most often?

You will have until September 30th at midnight to comment. All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda… The Cutting Table Blog on October 2nd. Make sure to visit the blog every day for the opportunity to win each giveaway!

Two Tricks for Perfect Log Cabin Blocks

Hi! I’m Marti Michell. When Moda asked me to be part of the Rulers Rule blog hop I immediately said “Yes!” It was almost as easy to decide that, because Log Cabin quilts are popular with nearly everyone, the From Marti Michell Log Cabin Rulers would be the tools I’d want to talk about!

Just in case you haven’t made a Log Cabin quilt or even a block, Log Cabin starts with a center square and is completed by adding strips to the center unit in either a clockwise or counterclockwise order. I like my blocks to go clockwise:

If you want Log Cabin blocks that are both square and all the same size, there are two tricks you need to know:   

#1 –Cut fabric strips on the lengthwise grain. 
#2 –Cut the strips to length before sewing!   

The best part of this method is that, in addition to being accurate, it is faster than any other Log Cabin technique I have seen or you’ve ever tried. (We’ve done time studies – no, really, we have!)


Trick # 1 is to cut your Log Cabin strips on the lengthwise grain (parallel to the selvage). Yet, most quilting instructions start with cutting fabric strips the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage. Why?

Before we answer that question, pick up a piece of fabric, grasp one selvage in each hand and pull. Do you feel how the crosswise grain stretches? Now pull on the same fabric in the opposite direction, parallel to the selvage. Can you feel the difference?


Because most pieces in a Log Cabin block are considerably longer than they are wide, most distortion in a block will be eliminated if you cut strips on the firm, non-stretchy, lengthwise grain.

So, back to the question, “Why don’t all Log Cabin instructions say that?” Probably because: 1. It is easier to write instructions and figure yardage using crosswise strips. 2. It is the way the author was taught and just hasn’t tried another way. 3. The author is not trained in textiles and so may not realize the importance of understanding the characteristics of lengthwise and crosswise grain.   

Trick #2 is cut the strips to length before sewing! If you have ever made Log Cabin blocks by sewing small pieces to a long strip and then cutting to size, you may be thinking you don’t want to give up the chain-piecing method you have been using. With the From Marti Michell method, you don’t give up chain-piecing. You give up aligning your ruler at both ends of the pieced section and cutting the long strip twice to get one piece in the block. Instead of aligning your ruler twice for each piece, you simply nip the threads separating the units. Which way is easier?

You don’t need a From Marti Michell Log Cabin Ruler to take advantage of these tricks—It is just easier with a Log Cabin Ruler.

If you are going to cut strips to length, you have to know what length that is. The length of each strip is the total of the width of the pieces to which it will be attached. So, first you have to decide how wide the strip will be. The sample we are using today has strips that finish 1-1/2 inches wide, but are cut 2 in. wide. So the first piece is 2 in. long, then 3-1/2, 5, 6-1/2 in., etc., all measurements you can find on a regular ruler.


BUT on the 1-1/2 in. finished width From Marti Michell Log Cabin Ruler #8037, we have eliminated all of the ruler marks except the lengths that you need to cut for that block. This ruler has white paper behind it so you can see the markings:

(In case you don’t want 1-1/2 in. finished strips, we also make 3 other Log Cabin Rulers that pair one-half and 1 in., 5/8 and 1-1/4 in., and 1 and 2 in. finished strips. You’ll find more information and videos on our website.)

It is very easy to use a From Marti Michell Log Cabin Ruler to measure and cut both the strip width and length.   

Measure Strip Width Using the Log Cabin Ruler 
Measure the strip width from one long edge of the ruler to the first vertical purple line. (For right handed cutters, the fabric is to the left.) For this example, there are just two fabrics representing the traditional light and dark halves of a Log Cabin block. There is also a pre-cut 2 in. center square. Use a regular ruler to true-up one edge or remove the selvage.

True-up an adjacent edge: align a line on the ruler with the just-cut edge and trim.

Without moving the fabric or yourself, use the Log Cabin Ruler to measure the strip width. 

Put your regular ruler against the edge of the Log Cabin Ruler. 

Remove the Log Cabin Ruler and cut against the regular ruler.

Cutting the Log Cabin Pieces  
Turn the strip and, with the Heart in Hand logo on the fabric and the line marked A aligned on the squared-off end, cut the first piece A:

The first piece added to the center square is typically the same size as the center square and is the only other piece in the block that length – it can be either light or dark. When using the classic half light and half dark block arrangement, I like to start with light fabrics. By starting with a light fabric, the last piece in the classic block will be the opposite value of the first piece. When the block has an equal number of strips on all four sides of the center square, the last piece added is the only piece that long. This creates a pleasing jog when blocks are arranged in rows for most layouts. 

Next, cut the B pieces:

How you add this piece determines whether the block goes clockwise or counter-clockwise. It doesn’t matter, unless you want your blocks to match our illustrations, which all go clockwise. But you do want them to all go the same way. Sewing is detailed in Log Cabin ABCs (Product #8043).   

Then cut the C pieces and continue down the alphabet cutting and arranging.

Measuring and Cutting Many Blocks at One Time 

Of course if you are making more than one block, you want to cut more pieces more efficiently. I love to demo cutting the pieces for a “Snuggler” quilt. It is the first quilt in The Log Cabin ABCs and the quilt we recommend for your first Log Cabin quilt. It is a scrap quilt made with 16 blocks. 
I’m making a new version and all of the light fabric strips will be cut from the same fabric, but I’d like for the 6 dark strips to be scrappy… So I did a little math… I bet you don’t know that if you add the length of the shortest strip in a Log Cabin block to the length of the longest strip, it will be the same as the total of the length of the next shortest and next longest, etc. A cutting scheme began to percolate! There are 16 blocks, each with 6 dark pieces. I wanted more variety than 6 fabrics, so it worked out perfectly to cut all 6 lengths twice from 8 different fabrics. The exact size piece needed for each fabric would be 12 by 14 in., but we say 14-1/2 x 18 in. in the book – 14-1/2 in. allows for an extra strip if needed, and 18” gives a lot of wiggle room. We used that measurement in the book because many people would start with fat quarters 18 in. long on the lengthwise grain. First, true up and cut 6 stacks of strips just like we showed with 2 fabrics. (You will need a sharp blade in your cutter to cut 8 layers. If you just can’t cut 8 layers, do 4 at a time instead.)

Then, using this cutting chart and starting in the lower left corner for right handed cutters, move up the stacks of strips and cut in alphabetical order: B, B, C, C, D, D. Then move to the right and come down the strips: E, E, F, F, G, G. (If you are left handed, start in the lower right corner with B and cut in a counter-clockwise order.)

I can cut 96 pieces in 2 minutes using this method! You can watch a video demonstration on our website.

 What about the sewing? Well this blog is about cutting. The sewing is detailed on pages15-17 of The Log Cabin ABCs and in this video on our website. In a nutshell, I always sew Log Cabin units with the new piece on the bottom so I can control the seam allowances. I finger-press each new piece and “real” press after each 4-piece round. On the first 3 pieces, I lead with the center square, with the new piece on the bottom so that my strips go clockwise from the center out.

Other Fun Styles

You can cut center squares that are larger than the strip width when you use the From Marti Michell Log Cabin Rulers, as long as the cut square is also one of the dimensions on that ruler. For example, in this small batik Fat Quarter Log Cabin, the strips finish at 1” and the center square is 3” finished.

And in this Courthouse Steps Variation, there are actually 3 different size center blocks.

Sometimes Log Cabin blocks are combined with other blocks. I love Log Cabin blocks set on point. Look at this quilt called “Rachel’s Baskets.” Using the same fabrics for the light side of all the blocks created a wonderful “self border” when the blocks were set on point. 

The Rachel’s Basket pattern is in Log Cabin ABCs, and it is also available as a separate pattern that includes more detail and a crib quilt variation. You can also see several videos on our website that detail more cutting and sewing information about the quilt.

One More Thing About the Rulers  In case you were wondering why there are two strip widths on every ruler… One of the fun variations of Log Cabin quilts is off-center or round Log Cabins. These blocks need to have narrow and wide strips, as well as light and dark strips.

For the best circles, the wide strips should finish twice as wide as the narrow strips. The important phrase is “finish twice as wide” — strips are not cut twice as wide. 

So that you would not have to remember that until the day you want to make an off-center Log Cabin quilt, we paired them permanently on each ruler. You can cut both strips widths for this fun block with one ruler! It takes 4 blocks to make a circle, as you can see in the center unit below. Then, we like to add an additional strip all around to frame the circle and make it stand out. Rotate the blocks to create the shape on the right. In those blocks, we added a strip in the center to elongate the curve. There are more details in The Log Cabins ABCs.


There are 4 sizes of round or off-center blocks you can make with From Marti Michell Log Cabin Rulers. From smallest to largest, they are 12”, 15”, 18” and 24” square finished. You may have noticed that on each ruler, the letters on the wide strip are capitals and the letters on the narrow strip are lower case—that is so you can differentiate wide or narrow strip lengths when making the off-center or round Log Cabin blocks.


Did I mention that it is easy to make the Log Cabin variations called Chevron and Courthouse Steps with the Log Cabin Rulers? We made this darling Little Woolie Chevron quilt using cotton flannels from Maywood Studio.


And this is me with my favorite Courthouse Steps quilt!  It is made with some of our daughter’s hand-dyed fabrics. She is Stacy Michell of Shades Textiles fame. Thanks for reading this blog, and thanks, Moda, for the invitation to the Moda Cutting Table!

Happy Log Cabin quilting 
From Marti Michell! 

I will be giving away a Log Cabin Ruler #8037 (1-1/2 and 3/4 in. finished strip widths) and a copy of Log Cabin ABCs to one lucky winner! To enter please leave a comment about your favorite Log Cabin quilt or one that you are planning to make. You will have until September 30th at midnight to comment. All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda…The Cutting Table Blog on October 2nd. Be sure to visit the blog every day for the opportunity to win each giveaway!

Folded Corner Clipper

National Sewing Month 2013
Hello! Susan Nelson here, and I design patterns and notions for Prairie Sky Quilting.  I’m so happy to join Moda in their “Measure Twice, Cut Once” series.  I’ve heard from so many quilters that love my template, the Folded Corner Clipper, and today I’m here to show you why they like it so much!

Most quilters are familiar with the folded corner method, a very common technique:

However, drawing pencil lines on fabric is a very slow process!  And since you have to trim the seam allowance anyway, why not trim it first, and then use the cut edge as a 1/4″ seam guide?  Introducing the Folded Corner Clipper!

Simpler is better, don’t you agree?  Notice that the markings on this template are easy to read, making this so much simpler to use.  This is how to make a folded corner, faster and easier, with the Folded Corner Clipper:

This method can be used for several different blocks:
And since the corners were trimmed with a straight, rotary-cut edge, the leftovers are easily sewn into a Half-Square-Triangle block.  But those blocks always need to be trimmed to a usable size.  Here’s the traditional way of trimming that HST block to size:
It’s much faster to use the Folded Corner Clipper to trim first, then press open:
Or if you need to cut HST’s for your project, save fabric by using the Folded Corner Clipper.  Instead of cutting squares in half diagonally, cut your HST’s from strips.  For example, to make a 2″ finished HST block, you would need to cut 2 7/8″ squares.  By cutting from strips, they would need to be only 2 1/2″ wide:
Finally, you will love this tool for preparing your binding strips. Joining them is easy when they have been cut first to identify the sewing line:
I know that you will find the Folded Corner Clipper to be a helpful, time-saving tool.  If you would like to learn more about it, please see the detailed photo tutorials on my blog.  Or, you can print a brochure from my website.
There are so many quilting projects that will use this tool.  These patterns by Prairie Sky Quilting were designed to feature the Folded Corner Clipper:

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Easy Street
Garden Pinwheels
Twisted Trellis
Rock Candy
Waterfalls (New!)
Splitrock (New!)

To thank you for joining me today, I will be giving away one Folded Corner Clipper to one lucky winner!
To enter, please leave a comment with an answer to this question: On what new project will you use your Folded Corner Clipper?
You will have until September 30th at midnight to comment.  All winners will be randomly selected and announced on Moda…The Cutting Table blog on October 2nd. Make sure to visit the blog every day for the opportunity to win each giveaway!