QA Class 110 Lesson 3-4: Cutting Tools

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!

Correct hand placement for rotary cutting.

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.

My rotary ruler collection

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?



2 thoughts on “QA Class 110 Lesson 3-4: Cutting Tools

  1. Hello Becky! Thanks for stopping by my blog journal. It is definitely a work in progress. I look back and see what I started with and realize how far I’ve come! There is no way I would have ever thought when I started that I would have the equipment or skills today that make me a happy quilter, but QA is absolutely my reason for success. It is so logical and progressive in what it teaches.

    Looks like you are off to a great start with QA! You are starting your blog earlier in the process than I did, and much more detailed. I wish I would have considered being more detailed, but I didn’t want to actually rehash the book. I simply wanted to make sure I was journaling the course or progress. I had no idea that so many would read it and wonder about the specifics of items I bought or made etc..!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey of learning to quilt accurately. A big ah ha was the cutting line.. and always using the same place to line up the fabric. I’ve chosen the outside edge, which gives me a bit more room for measuring and trimming 🙂 And, I found the same thing as you with the mish mash of rulers. Love the Creative Grids for the same reason. Much easier to see my lines.

    Enjoy your journey!

    1. Dawn, thanks for stopping by to comment and encourage! I like the idea of journaling my way through learning. In my teaching classes they encourage reflection and discussion as a better way to retain and learn the information. I think it’s working. With a record, I realize I actually have learned a thing or two. How encouraging! Thanks for your inspiration!

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