I’m trying to use a pattern for a bag, courtesy of a friend. The pattern instructs me to “cut two rectangles, 14 by 16 inches from main fabric”. I have sewn for a while now, but never without a pattern.

I tried using a yardstick to mark the lines on the fabric, but it kept being inaccurate and changing the position.

How do I accurately cut a rectangular shape from fabric without a pattern to trace?


There is always the option of making a pattern - i.e. an appropriately sized piece of paper. Then you can use it as you are accustomed to.

For rectangular patterns, remember that when you fold an edge onto itself, the resulting crease line will be perpendicular to the edge. This helps a lot when constructing a rectangle.

So if your fabric is sturdy and not prone to distort, arm yourself with an iron and start ironing, folding, and ironing, etc., always measuring your distances. If however your fabric won’t necessarily hold its shape, I recommend the homemade paper pattern route.

  • Tried it... it worked surprisingly well (excepting that my younger brother decided it was the right time to tap my shoulder while I was cutting and the scissors slipped), so thanks! – Bardic Wizard Jul 19 '20 at 5:32

Tools of the tradecutting mat, acrylic ruler, rotary cutter

If you want accuracy and will make this many times in the future these are the tools to invest in:

  1. Cutting mat
  2. Acrylic ruler
  3. Rotary cutter

If you will need to make other shapes, quilters use plastic sheets to create templates - the little triangle is one I made.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.