Did you get an Accuquilt cutter from Santa? I’ve only been quilting for a year, but have had the big accucut cutter (Studio) for about 10 years. I make wedding invitations I (I am the Paper Prncess after all) and have cut tens of thousands of items and have a few tips:
Prepare your fabric as you normally would. Iron it and make sure there are no creases. Starch it if it’s very thin.
Cutting pads- pads are consumables. Think of thread or rotary cutter blades. They will not last nearly as long as your rotary mat. The first purchase you should make is an extra cutting pad. When your cuts start getting stringy, your expensive die is not dull, you just need a new pad. Repetitive cuts in the same place will use the pad up more quickly. To extend its life, make sure you use both sides, flip it end for end etc.
Strip cutters – If you are just going to cut FQ’s you’re all set. If you want to make lovely, straight jelly roll strips, you’ll need to take a few minutes to set up your die. I use blue painter’s tape. Place one piece of tape over the ends of the blades. Tape should extend past the blades into the margin. Place another piece of tape on the bottom blade, again on the blade and into the margin. Make this one about 6” long and about 2-3” from the end.
Now run the die thru the machine (use the cutting pad). You should now be able to see the blades clearly. Remove the long piece of tape from the bottom of the die, the part that is IN the bottom strip. Leave the part that is below the blade. Now use one of your square quilting rulers and a permanent marker to draw some vertical lines on the tape you put over the ends of the blades. You want the line on the blade side of the tape, about ¼” in. Take a piece of copy paper & fold it in half. Put the fold on the line you just drew and run it thru the cutter. Open the strips. They should be perfectly straight, not “V” shaped. If they’re not, draw another line. I usually mark both ends.
Shape cutters- if you are having problems figuring out where the blade is and nipping off edges of your shapes, put a small piece of painters tape across the blade in the problem area, run it thru the cutter and remove the part of the tape that is within the shape. Now you can easily see where the blade is. Just need to mark the farthest most parts with small pieces of tape, not the whole shape.
Number of layers – although the machine is advertised to cut lots and lots of layers, and it will, cutting lots of layers gives you the opportunity to ruin lots of fabric very quickly! Ask me how I know. I would limit the number of layers you cut to 3 or 4, especially at first. You want to have some practice laying the cutting pad on the fabric without moving the material and getting the layers down smoothly with no wrinkles. If you are cutting a knit, I would only cut 1 layer ata time. The foam will hold the fabric in place. Smooth it on and take care not to stretch it.
Hope this helps, please add more tips to this thread as you discover them!!