DIY & Crafts

Crafty Q+A: Rotary Cutters and Cutting Mats

Canadian Living
DIY & Crafts

Crafty Q+A: Rotary Cutters and Cutting Mats

Hello, friends. Thanks to everyone who has been entering Weekly Giveaway #3. There are some great craft questions coming up in the contest entries – it looks like I'm going to be learning some new things, too! I chose an easy question to start off with. This one's from Emily, who writes: "I would like to try making a baby quilt, but I don’t really know how to go about it. I have a sort of pattern from a book (the Bend The Rules sewing book by Amy Karol). My question: is it worth investing in a rotary cutter and mat set? I have a decent pair of fabric scissors but it seems like it might be easier to do piecing using the mat and rotary blade. Then again I’m a novice so it seems like a hefty investment." Easy question, easy answer: Emily, it's worth it. When I started quilting, about five years ago, it didn't take me long to discover that I'm useless at cutting a straight line with a pair of fabric shears. After a single very frustrating afternoon of cutting crooked squares and uneven seam allowances, a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and mat set made its way to the top of my shopping list. [caption id="attachment_35" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My well-loved (and much used) rotary cutter, rulers and mats."] flip[/caption]

Using a rotary cutter enables you to make quick, straight cuts with reliable results every time. The super-sharp blade is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric at once, which is a godsend when you're working on a quilt with dozens (or even hundreds) of pieces. The self-healing mats and acrylic rulers come in many shapes and sizes, so you can find one that works for your workspace (I like the larger mat now, but the small one was ideal when I was living in a tiny apartment without a dedicated worktable.)

I bought my original Fiskars set for about $25-$30, and over the years I've added new cutting mats and rulers as I've needed them.  OLFA is the other source for excellent cutting tools, rulers and mats for sewers/quilters, and though their prices seem slightly higher, I think it's worth it. (Consider how long you're likely to be using the tools – and how much trouble they'll save you. I use them for all my sewing now, not just quilting, and I've been doing so since 2004. That works out to only $5 a year – not bad!) If you're worried about the expense, it is worth checking the sales at stores like Fabricland/Fabricville, which often have big seasonal discounts, even on notions. And don't discount your local quilting shop – many of them offer packages for beginning quilters. One caveat: be careful. A rotary cutter is as sharp as a scalpel. Never, ever leave the blade open when you're not using it. Keep your rotary cutter out of reach of curious kids. And if you drop it – jump lively! Just a few other notes... See you again soon!
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Crafty Q+A: Rotary Cutters and Cutting Mats

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