We’re learning all about rotary cutters and cutting mats, and then moving swiftly on to rulers. There are some finer points that struck a chord, that I’d like to remember, so I’m recording them here.
Rotary cutters were invented in the 1980s. This means my grandmother started quilting before she had a rotary blade! I want to remember that next time I see one of her earlier quilts.
I learned to use a rotary cutter using an Olfa 45 mm. I love this cutter! I love the quality and the fit, but I have yet to try some of the more ergonomic ones that have come out lately. Add that to the “next time I see a quilter” list.
I have always wrapped all of my fingers around the handle, I will have to experiment with Harriet’s way of holding the pointer finger on the “hilt.” This is fascinating and goes against the knife skills I have learned in the kitchen. I can see now how it’s designed to have more control that way, with the grooves along the top edge. Great tip!
I look at this picture and realize I usually hold my thumb on the black “opener slide.” I find it easy to cut little nicks in the fabric from lying it down open on my fabric pieces around my workstation. If I keep my thumb on the end of the black opener, it reminds me to close it after each cut, before I set it down.
If I am finding it hard to cut, time to change the blade. (Just like if I’m finding it hard to sew, oil the machine and change the needle.) I like the tip about leaving the parts laid out in the order you took them apart. Reminds me of when I learned to change the breaks on my car. This way, I won’t forget any parts when I put it back together. Also, set things down all in the same direction so that they don’t get flipped in the reassembling process!
Rotary cutting mats.
I spent a nice chunk of change on a large rotary mat. One that nearly covered my desk. I left it in the car for a week. It’s true what Harriet says about not leaving it in a hot car!
I now have a smaller 18 x 12 Olfa self healing mat. If I’m going somewhere after quilt group, I make sure to take my cutting mat inside with me. Only a slight inconvenience if I’m going grocery shopping. Harriet suggests a much larger mat, but I find the smaller one convenient to store and transport properly. I can have my smaller cutting mat and my machine out on the same table if I need, as well. This is a limitation in my cramped space; a limitation I will not have to work around when I move into my quilting castle some day. In my grandmother’s sewing room, she has a couple of large tables filled up with these mats. I love it!
I made a habit of using the blank side of my mat so that I don’t get confused with all the numbers. It’s a great tip!
Moving on to RULERS!
Oh, how I love rulers. The great thing about knowing quilters is that they will likely pass down rulers to you. I have quite a few. Only after reading this chapter, do I realize why. It’s because I have brands that said quilters don’t actually use! Handoffs schmandoffs. Really, I don’t bame them, they were probably trying to figure out the ones they like the most. After reading this section, I will have to weed out my collection to all matching rulers.
Ok, so, which ones do I prefer? Creative grids. For sure. They have little clear grippy areas that make a world of difference. I find their thin lines easier to see and use. The colors on both omnigrid and omnigrip make me slightly dizzy. I’ve got 10-1/2″ square and a 4-1/2″ x 12-1/2″. I’ll have to add the thinner 2-1/2″ x 12-1/2″, and a smaller 6-1/2″ square to my shopping list. Harriet suggests cutting problems could be cropping up when you use a bigger ruler- I’m curious to try and see if this is true. I can say that I really don’t enjoy using my 6 x 24″ bohemith to cut strips! Maybe because it doesn’t even fit on my cutting mat.
Class 110 complete. Now, to find a new quilter to gift some rulers to.
Things to check if I find errors in my cutting:
What part of the line am I using to measure? Be consistent.
Is my ruler slipping? Try a smaller size.
Am I finding it physically hard to cut? Try a higher cutting surface and a new rotary blade.
Am I getting confused while cutting? Try using a thin strip of glow tape to mark the line.
What about you? Have you ever made an entire quilt without a rotary blade? Which brands and sizes do you gravitate toward? Do you have any good cutting habits?