Thursday, January 10, 2008

Would you like a clear understanding of Rotary Cutting Tools?

With Quilting you can not sew before you cut!

Trying to sew before cutting in quilting, would be like running before you learn to walk. When cutting fabric accuracy and speed is something we all want to strive for. With today’s rotary cutters rulers and mats speed and accuracy can be achieved easily.

If you are new to quilting you may not know what a rotary cutter is. You may not have used these tools before, or if you have you are not yet comfortable with them. Once you master these tools you will wonder how you ever got by without them!

Let me explain things for you so that you can go out and purchase your rotary cutting tools with confidence.

First of all there are many cutters and rulers on the market today; I can not possibly tell you that one is better than the other. This is something that you will have to decide on your own. I will however tell you that they all work a little bit different. For that reason you will need to make your own choice as to what is important to you

Here are few of the most popular brands to look at. I am not recommending any one of these; I just want to give you an idea of what to look for. In each case I am showing you the 45mm size. This is a good size to start with. There are smaller and larger ones, but this will get you through the majority of you cutting needs.

Let's start with the Fiskars Brand

Here is a complete set which includes a 45mm rotary cutter, 18" x 24" cutting mat, and 6" x 24" acrylic ruler. This is a good place to start, if you are not sure what to purchase. This style cutter has the blade in closed position, and requires you to press the top button to release the blade. The blade remains out until you press the small button on the side. Good for long cutting periods, but can cause some safety issues if you forget to press the small button to close the blade when finished cutting. If you lay this down in the open position you can find yourself (or anyone else who may wander into your sewing room) with a serious cut! So please use caution with this and all cutters. Read the directions and all safety warnings on the package before using this tool.

And now for the other popular cutter: The Olfa Brand

This brand is number one for many quilters because of its safety features. The way this one works is you squeeze the handle to release the blade and when you let go of the handle the blade retracts automatically. Although it is good for safety, you need to continually keep pressure on the handle which if you are cutting for long periods of time can cause some hand fatigue. There is a lock button on the side (red button) which when pressed keeps the blade either locked closed or open depending on when you press it. If you leave it in the “locked open” position, you are leaving yourself open for possible injury. Please read all instructions and safety warning on the package before using this tool.

Another brand to consider is Dritz

One unique feature about this cutter is the blade engages automatically when pressure is applied for cutting. It too has a safety lock to protect the blade (and you) when not in use. Please read all instructions and safety warning on the package before using this tool.

Rulers on the other hand come in all shapes and sizes

There are long ones, short ones square ones and even triangular ones. All of the companies above sell rulers along with many other companies so where does one start! (With a kit, like I suggested above!) But seriously, you will find that a 6” x 24” and the largest square ruler you can afford will get you started. For years that is all I worked with. Now of course like with any hobby you will discover uses (or excuses) to buy one in every color and size! However I would not recommend you do that right away! Try a couple of rulers and see which ones you prefer to use and then stick to that brand. Mix and match if you like, but be careful with doing that in the same project. As there can be slight variances in each brand of ruler. So if you start to mix and match rulers in a single project you may find your cutting is off slightly.

Here are a few links to websites that sell rotary cutting supplies JoAnn Fabrics Simply type in the brand or description in the search box and you will find lot's of items with descriptions, prices and reviews on the products. I know that with JoAnn Fabrics you can sign up for their mailing list and they will send you 40% and sometimes even 50% off coupons on a regular basis. These coupons can be used in stores or online purchases. (Something to think about for you major purchases) In fact if you go to their website and type in "coupons" in the search box it will take you to a page where you can print out the current coupons! Go ahead try it!Nancy's Notions Again simply type in the search box of her site, and you will find rulers, cutters and mats to compare. Save on Crafts claim to have 2o% to 50% off prices everyday. This is one to check out and compare with the prices you found on the other sites or in stores.

One last bit of advice for you before you go. If you found this information helpful please let me know by leaving me a comment. Better yet subscribe to my blog feed so you can keep up with all the helpful tips and links that I will be sharing here! If you like you can tell your friends about me too! I won't mind, in fact I love to meet new quilters.

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