How to Easily Square Up a Quilt Top

Kimberlee Tanner

Now that your quilt top is pieced, sandwiched and quilted, it’s time to bind it. But first, you need to trim and square it up. We’ve found an easy tool to help you quickly do just that, without worrying about trying to keep your ruler straight as you move it along the side.


Do I need to Square Up my Quilt Top?

Honestly, no. There are lots of quilts we don’t square up, just trim and bind. However, if you are worried about an edge being wonky, it’s certainly worth taking the time to do. Sometimes our quilts come out nice and straight, and other times, not quite as nice. Having a tool and easy method to deal with those not quite as nice times can be a real life saver as you are finishing your quilt tops.

Won’t squaring up my quilt mess up my borders?

It can. If you have borders or blocks that can’t be cut off, you are going to want to look at blocking your quilt top, not simply trimming to square. If have borders and want an easy way to trim them nice and straight, you can still certainly use the laser tool, just don’t try and make everything perfectly square. Treat each side individually.

Blocking my quilt top? What is that!?!

Blocking a quilt is the process of getting it wet and taping it or pinning it in place as it dries to shift and reposition the fabric to make a quilt square. That’s much more of a process than we are going into in this tutorial, but if you are interested in more info on the process, a quick google search should provide lots of answers. We seldom block our tops, but if you end up with one that has more character than most, it can be a lifesaver.

What tools do I need to Square Up my Quilt?

For our tutorial, all you really need is a laser square and a pair of scissors. There are lots of expensive versions, but we don’t need it to do more than create a 90 degree angle.  The one we bought is found on Amazon for less than $15. If that one isn’t available, just search laser square and you should get lots of options. This tool takes a couple batteries and then at the click of a button, shines two laser lights at a perfect 90 degree angle. It reaches for at least 10 feet, so should work for pretty much any quilt you are making.

We also recommend finding somewhere you can lay your quilt out flat before squaring it up. We use scissors to trim it, so your space could be hard floor or carpet. By having the entire quilt flat, you’ll have a nice single line from the laser that you don’t have to worry about maneuvering or messing with and possible getting off track.

How Do I Square Up my Quilt?

First thing, lay out your quilt nice and flat. Position the laser level in one corner so that it goes along both edges where you want.  You may have to adjust this a little to fit the best way possible, as you may be taking more off one side than the other to create the perfect 90 degree angle.

Without moving your quilt or laser square, start at the opposite side of the quilt from where the square is and simply cut along your laser line. Without moving anything, repeat with the second side.

For the next side, we are going to use one of the sides we have already cut. Move your square to the next corner and line one side up along the edge you just trimmed. By using that side, you’ll guarantee that next angle is also 90 degrees. Trim the other side.

Last, move your square one more time to the remaining corner, again using one of your already trimmed sides to line it up. Simply trim the last side and you are done! All four corners are nice 90 degree angles and your quilt is square.

After you have everything all trimmed and square, you are ready to bind the quilt and use it.

When is it Most Important to Square Up a Quilt?

If you are submitting quilts to shows or using them as wall hangings, we definitely recommend taking the extra time to square it up. When it is hanging, wonky sides and funky angles will be much more obvious than when it is on a bed. This is really such a quick and easy process, there’s no reason not to spend the extra few minutes so that you can happily gaze at your quilt for years to come, without always seeing that one corner that is a little off.

How else can I use the Laser Square in Quilting?

Since we love tools that we can use in more than one way, another fantastic application for this tool in quilting is to mark your quilting lines. If you are looking to mark grids or straight lines across the entire top, this little tool is faster and more accurate than using a quilting ruler. You don’t have to stress if the line actually goes straight across the quilt as you move the ruler and mark, you’ll know it is as you have one continuous line. Look for a video on this technique later.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions, shoot us a message. We’re happy to help!

Happy Quilting!

Kimie and Missy

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