Tip: Getting More Bang for your Fabric Buck {how to cut pieces for baby gifts}

As an Etsy shop owner that both sells fabric and creates handmade baby gifts, I know the importance of making every bit of your fabric count when you sit down to sew. Over the last several years I have come up with a fool-proof system to get the most out of a yard of fabric. This is perfect if you are looking to sew a baby gift for a friend who is expecting, or if you want to make some fun little things for your own bundle of joy.

This is only a tip about laying out your fabric for sewing ... the tutorials for each of these will soon follow, so stay tuned....

A yard of cotton fabric can cost you anywhere from $5-$15 depending on whether you buy from a discount store (JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, etc.), a quilting store, or online. If you are purchasing organic fabric it can get even more pricey! No matter how much you spend on your fabric, you definitely want to get more bang for your buck, right!?! Here is how I cut my fabric to make 1 baby blanket and 2 burp cloths out of one yard (36"x43/44") of cotton fabric.

This is a rough (to scale) example of 1 yard of fabric. Most places you buy fabric from will consider one yard to be 36" wide and is purchased off of the bolt. This means that your fabric is folded in half even with the selvage (the top and bottom of your fabric). There are some places online (such as fabric.com) where a one yard cut is considered to be anywhere from 36"-38" and if you happen to be the lucky one... you will get the end of the bolt as an additional bonus! {I've had that happen a couple times and it's like Christmas!!}

The very first thing you will want to do is to wash and dry your fabric so that it shrinks before you start sewing! The worst thing to happen is when you create a beautiful gift for someone -- or make something for yourself -- and it gets distorted and wrinkled after you wash it. So... always wash your fabric first!!!! 

Once you have it washed, be sure to iron it really well. You want nice, smooth, unwrinkled fabric to work with. Now it's time to measure and cut! 

I have an awesome cutting mat that I bought at JoAnn's several years ago using a coupon. It has been the best thing ever for cutting fabric! 

The cutting size of this mat is 33"x59". It makes it easy to cut a yard of fabric in no time. I pair it up with this rotary ruler that allows me to cut the entire width of the mat. It's the little things like these that make sewing projects so much easier... hahaha! 

Okay, so back to cutting your fabric.... 

If you are going to be making a baby blanket and two matching burp cloths -- which makes an awesome baby gift by the way -- here is how you want to lay it out. 

After washing your fabric it will shrink to about 35" wide by 42" long. You will want to cut your baby blanket piece to 35"x30" as shown in the diagram. Once completed, this will give you a baby blanket that measures approx. 29"x34", a great size for the car seat, the stroller, swaddling, and snuggling! Again, watch for the tutorial really soon on how to make one! 

This cut will leave you a piece of fabric that is roughly 12"x35". Cut it down to 10"x35". You can use the 2" strip to create pacifier clips, hair bows, or just add it to your scrap fabric pile. From your 10"x35" piece, you will cut two rectangles measuring 10"x17". These will be for your two burp cloths. Once finished your burp cloths will measure approx. 16"x9" -- a great size to cover your entire shoulder, to shield your lap, or even use as an emergency changing pad! 

The only "waste" you have from cutting your fabric this way is the 2" strip of fabric. Easy, right!? 

Now, go pick out the fabric you want to use, wash it, iron it, cut out your pieces, and stay tuned later in the week for the tutorials on how to sew the blanket and burp cloths. 

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