Exploring Quilting Techniques: Stack and Whack
Stack and Whack is a common term used in the world of quilting. Rather than cutting one single fabric at a time, multiple layers of fabric are stacked in a single pile and then cut simultaneously. Anywhere from three to six layers of fabric can be cut at once in an accurate fashion. Once all the pieces are cut, they are rearranged and sewn back together to make quilt blocks.
Cutting fabric in this manner is so quick and easy! When cutting is done with care, it is very time effective. Here are a couple of tips:
- Make sure it is the blade in your rotary cutter is fresh! A sharp blade will slide like butter through multiple layers of fabric. Dull blades will cause you to work too hard, and your arm will be tired before you are finished cutting.
- Turn your cutting mat rather than your fabric. When the stacks of fabric are picked up and turned, the pieces quickly fall out of alignment. Try to move the stacks the least possible amount to ensure accuracy in cutting. If you are using a large stationary mat or table, try repositioning your body around it.
There are many stack and whack quilt block tutorials on the internet. Here are three:
We can’t discuss stack and whack without discussing the queen of this method, of course! Bethany Reynolds is the creator of the insanely popular “Stack-N- Whack” technique that is used to make stunning kaleidoscope quilt blocks. She is an established author, teacher, and quilter, and her famous cutting method is a little different from the version above.
These kaleidoscope blocks are a play on pattern. Using the Stack-N-Whack method, the quilter cuts a set of fabric pieces, otherwise known as a “kit.” These pieces are entirely identical to each other. To begin, squares or rectangles are cut. Each one of these pieces contains one or two complete pattern repeats. They are then stacked on top of each other and carefully pinned together. This causes the printed patterns of each piece the fabric to line up perfectly with the ones above and below. Now it’s easy to cut out the identical pieces of fabric (which tend to be triangles and diamonds) needed to create these stunning blocks.
If you are interested in learning Bethany’s technique, more information on her books and classes can be found on her website. Free tutorials for her half square triangle block and her 60 degree triangle block are available here.
Happy fabric cutting! What have you made using the stack and whack technique? Do you think it’s a time saver?