Week 2 - Cutting

It's week 2 of the Bar Code Quilt Along and we're cutting strips this week. It's a fair bit of cutting, so I'd suggest breaking it up into a couple of sessions to save your wrists and fingers.

Accurate cutting is important because we're dealing with long skinny strips in this quilt, so here are a couple of tips for you.

Bar Code quilt along with Penny Spool Quilts - rainbow stack of cut fabric strips

First off, press your fabric before cutting, even if you didn't prewash it. Wrinkles from being folded, or rolled on the bolt, can really mess up your accuracy.

Secondly, use the ruler to measure the width of your strips, not your mat. I don't know what your preference is, usually, for cutting, but some people use the measurements on the ruler to line up the fabric and cut, and others use the measurements on the mat. In this case, use the ruler because it will be more accurate. If you have a stripology or similar ruler, you can use that as well and make your life a bit easier  (although I'm not sure if it does all the strip sizes we need here).

And lastly, you might be wondering why I say in the pattern to cut most of the WOF (width of fabric) strips in half, so they're 21" long only (don't do this with the 1.5" strips just yet). The reason is that they will be less likely to warp when we go to sew the strips together. Because 42" is very long for a skinny strip, cutting them in half will add an extra step, but it'll make your life a lot easier when it comes to sewing and squaring up the strip sets.

You can, however, leave them the full length if you prefer. Just keep in mind that it may cause some headaches and require some additional squaring up when we get to week 5.

I personally also like to have a couple of gummy bears (no mess!) and a cup of tea handy, and possibly a podcast on the phone if the cutting doesn't require too much thinking.

Bar Code quilt along with Penny Spool Quilts - how to cut multiple strips in half quickly

Since we don't need the full 21" to make the blocks, you can be generous when cutting them in half, too. I like to put a few of the strips on my mat with their folds lined up and then cut across them all, cutting the fold off to cut them in half. Depending on how the fabric was folded on the bolt, you may have one slightly longer and one slightly shorter strip now, but that doesn't matter so much for these. (Don't cut the 1.5" strips of background fabric in half yet, we'll cut those when we get to week 5).

If you're using the scrappy version and doing 9" strips, there is unfortunately a bit of extra cutting involved. There's a little sewing hack, though, to save yourself some of the cutting and leave your background strips long (21") like I did. I'll show you how it's done next week when we start sewing strip sets.

Bar Code quilt along with Penny Spool Quilts - rainbow stack of cut fabric strips


  • Hi Kim,
    you should cut the 1.5" strips for the bars (your main colours) in 21" strips, along with the 2" and the 2.5" strips of background fabrics.
    Hold onto the 1.5" background strips for now and don’t cut those until week 5. I’m going to edit the blog post to clarify this.

  • Hi, just confirming I do not cut any of the 1 1/2 inch strips ( main colors and background) into 21 inch strips until we use them in piecing together?

    Thank you.


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