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Thread: Accurate Cutting? Need some help

  1. #1
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    Accurate Cutting? Need some help

    Hi All-

    I am about ready to SCREAM! Now, mind you I am an OCD/ADHD type of person who LOVES perfection and quilting/cutting fabric has become quite a humbling experience because there is SO much human error involved..it drives me nuts! HA!

    ANYWAYS, I am wondering how to improve my cutting skills to make everything else line up correctly. Trust me, I have improved SO MUCH from a year ago. Some factors I am wondering about..does the CUTTING TABLE matter? I currently cut on one of those plastic fold up tables, and yes, the table is very sturdy, but when you press on the top, it does have some "play" to it..would a wooden table make a difference at all? Secondly, I ALWAYS have a sharp blade, so that isn't an issue, and I really try to triple check and square up EVERYTHING before making the cuts.

    Advice or tips would be GREAT! Thanks, JC

  2. #2
    Super Member thrums's Avatar
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    The bounce can affect your cutting.

    Check to see that your mat is clear from embedded lint and that there aren't any ridges or nicks in it.

    Is the height of your table comfortable for you? I put risers under mine.

    I find the harder I try the more mistakes I make. Sometimes I just have to walk away for a few minutes and sing a little ditty.

  3. #3
    Super Member 117becca's Avatar
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    is the table too low? I cut on a counter top height cutting table. It is an old wooden door, so there is no give in it either.
    my name is becca and i'm a quilt-a-holic :-)

  4. #4
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    Ok, so maybe I should look into finding a solid wooden table to cut on? That might make a difference and then go from there. My mat is pretty new and has a lot of life left in it.

  5. #5
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Something else to check is whether you have any nicks or shaves on your ruler. One of mine had that problem on one side. Apparently I had 'dinged' it while trying to cut oh, so precisely.
    legendarycandles.com
    Just discovered I qualify for FABLE (Fabric Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy)

  6. #6
    Senior Member vwquilting's Avatar
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    Cutting is one thing but square you blocks after sewing them, and press you strips and make sure they are straight.
    Yes a hard surface and no b.ounce makes a big difference

  7. #7
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    When you hold down the ruler, do you hold it in the middle? I used to hold mine in the middle and it would shift on me just a tad. Now I hold down the lower third, cut up to where I still have good control, then walk my fingers up the ruler, hold it down and cut some more. Sometimes I only need 2 changes, sometimes 3.

    I also stopped layering too many layers of fabric. Cutting fewer layers gives me better results.

    Sometimes - depending on the pattern, I may cut a piece oversize and trim it down precisely.
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  8. #8
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I thought I was a pretty good "cutter" but still had some ... imperfections that just made me NUTS! till I started to starch my fabrics... What a difference it makes in everything ! Because I am so NUTS about it ... I use an immersion method .... I mix ( two parts water to one part starch) from a starch concenrate (Stayflo .. blue bottle ..Walmart) them soak the whole fabric in the mix ( I use a 1 gallon plastic bucket) .... really saturating the fabric then hang dry on a drying rack.. Then iron then cut... Try it ... I think you will like the results. It extra steps but when I don't do it ... I regret it. When only a few inches of a fabric is needed I use a sponge type paint brush and just paint the few inches of the end of the fabric . Then cut the required strip.
    Last edited by Lori S; 02-22-2012 at 04:55 PM.

  9. #9
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    a good cutting table- made for that- that is situated at the correct height for you is a must-
    starching your fabrics also helps-
    the film that is added to rulers (or dots) to keep them from slipping help also.
    patience-
    not trying to cut too many layers at a time-
    practice
    all make a difference.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  10. #10
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    If your rulers don't have a non-slip surface on them, glue a few thin strips of fine sandpaper to the side that goes against your fabric. Always put your rulers straight up and down on your fabric, never slide them across the fabric. The suction cup handles made for seniors to help them in and out of the bath make great holders for your rulers. They are sold in the notions sections, but cost less when sold as aids for seniors on Ebay.
    Last edited by TanyaL; 02-22-2012 at 05:36 PM.

  11. #11
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    The table is probably a problem. I sew with a guild that sews at a Rec building and they provide the tables. When we first started getting together and sewing there they had the ancient wood tables. They started replacing them with the plastic tables and everybody started having problems with their cuts. We bought an actual cutting table and everybody's happy with it.

  12. #12
    Super Member Quiltaddict's Avatar
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    One thing I recently learned - make sure you hold your rotary cutter straight up, don't angle it toward the ruler or away from the ruler or your size will be slightly off.

  13. #13
    Senior Member AnitaSt's Avatar
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    All of these are great tips....a sturdy table at the right height was a big one for me.

    But what seemed to help me the most was to use the blank side of my cutting mat. That way, you are truly using a ruler to measure your fabric...not trying to line up sets of lines on the ruler with sets of lines on the mat. This method really has helped me become an accurate cutter. To square up the end of a folded piece of fabric, use a (preferably large) square rule butted up to your long cutting ruler. And squaring up the cut edge of the fabric is a big one for me, especially when cutting strips.

    Of course, nothing helps like practice and lots of it!

  14. #14
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I hear plastic tables are not the best because they don't remain as flat

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    Hi Hockeyrabbit,

    Analyse how you are holding the rotary cutter. Are you wrapping your thumb and 4 fingers around the handle? Or do you use your index finger as a pointer and grip the handle with 3 fingers and thumb? Using your index finger as a pointer will give you more control. This motion makes the blade an extension of your finger/hand. It also eliminates side to side wrist action. Hope this helps. :-)

  16. #16
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    I starch my fabric too. Makes a big difference

  17. #17
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    We had trouble with accurate cutting til we invested in the Altos cutting system "the QuiltCut2. It wasn't cheap but neither was the fabric we wasted. My DH is willing to do most of my strip cutting since we purchased it. These are the same people who make the cutting systems picture framers use to cut mats for pictures, so you know they have to be accurate. Saw it demonstrated at a quilt show.
    Last edited by Silver Needle; 02-22-2012 at 08:36 PM.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

  18. #18
    Super Member thrums's Avatar
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    These are all great comments. I think I'll try the starch method. I have found the lighter weight fabrics cause me some problems. Occassionally I'll find I'm not holding the cutter with a pointing finger too. The pointing finger helps stablize the hand.

    One additional comment: If you are folding your fabric and cutting it, make sure both sides are laying parallel to one another other. I find some fabrics want to drift from being wrapped wrong on the bolt.

  19. #19
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    We had trouble with accurate cutting til we invested in the Altos cutting system "the QuiltCut2. It wasn't cheap but neither was the fabric we wasted. My DH is willing to do most of my strip cutting since we purchased it. These are the same people who make the cutting systems picture framers use to cut mats for pictures, so you know they have to be accurate. Saw it demonstrated at a quilt show.
    I have this and it greatly helped me. But, I also have some physical problems to deal with. Otherwise, learn how to hold the ruler steady and have something to keep it from slipping: invisigrip, sandpaper dots, or TrueCuts TruGrips, or something similar.

    When cutting don't start at the end of the ruler, but just inside the end, cut backwards to the end then go forward. This prevents nicking the corner with your rotary blade. There is a video on YouTube somewhere about this I am sure.

    Yes, I do Best Press or starch my fabric before cutting. Not always, but definitely on the better projects.

    I have a kitchen cart on wheels that I use for a cutting center. It is just the right height for me and I can roll it out of the way when company comes.

    I have a rotary cutter that works for me. Though many friends prefer the Martelli, I can't use it because the index fingers joints are being destroyed too fast as it is and pressure on them is very painful. I had to learn how to hold the cutter I use to the best advantage for me.

    Sometimes I purposefully over cut - make the piece a tad bigger so I can then square it up or trim it to size when I need to.

    I don't cut well in the company of others! I am too distractable, so I get all cutting directions before going to any classes or such.

    Do an inventory of what you are doing, the review it to see where you can improve. If need be get a friend involved and both of you help each other.

    ali
    Have fun quilting! If it isn't fun, you will miss a lot.
    ali

  20. #20
    Senior Member Sewflower's Avatar
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    I was told by a teacher not to use a ruler over 12 if you can help it because you start angling the more you move the rotary cutter from your body. It seems to work for me. It was a control issue for me
    Sewflower

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockeyrabbit View Post
    Hi All-

    I am about ready to SCREAM! Now, mind you I am an OCD/ADHD type of person who LOVES perfection and quilting/cutting fabric has become quite a humbling experience because there is SO much human error involved..it drives me nuts! HA!

    ANYWAYS, I am wondering how to improve my cutting skills to make everything else line up correctly. Trust me, I have improved SO MUCH from a year ago. Some factors I am wondering about..does the CUTTING TABLE matter? I currently cut on one of those plastic fold up tables, and yes, the table is very sturdy, but when you press on the top, it does have some "play" to it..would a wooden table make a difference at all? Secondly, I ALWAYS have a sharp blade, so that isn't an issue, and I really try to triple check and square up EVERYTHING before making the cuts.

    Advice or tips would be GREAT! Thanks, JC

    Two things helped me with my cutting skills....one I purchased a cutting table (with coupon) from JoAnn's that is wonderful height and plenty sturdy. Two, I took a basic rotary cutting class at a local quilt store. She made us learn to cut on the blank side of the mat with a good grid ruler. She showed us how to "walk" your holding hand up the ruler on long stretches and how to cut unusual shapes. Those two investments were absolutely worth it. I still goof some and sometime the ruler will slip. Putting just a little spray starch on your fabric helps as well. I just use a little of the cheap Niagra on the fabric. Mary Ellen's is wonderful but it is a little pricey to use on everything! I have found most of my problems came from poor cutting and not poor sewing!

  22. #22
    Super Member anniesews's Avatar
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    That is the main reason I bought the go cutter. I wasted so much material as I can not seem to get two blocks the same size no matter how careful I tried. The go makes it work for me. I have no commercial interest in go.

  23. #23
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    We had trouble with accurate cutting til we invested in the Altos cutting system "the QuiltCut2. It wasn't cheap but neither was the fabric we wasted. My DH is willing to do most of my strip cutting since we purchased it. These are the same people who make the cutting systems picture framers use to cut mats for pictures, so you know they have to be accurate. Saw it demonstrated at a quilt show.
    I, too, have an Altos cutting system. It's really good when cutting multiples of the same size as in strip quilting. Seeing a demo at a quilt show is definitely a plus if you are considering purchasing one.

  24. #24
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    There are new rulers that have a "lip" type guide and a cutter that fits on it. The make accurate cuts all the time because you can't move the blade off the ruler. The same company has little fabric grippers to put on the fabric too. It's Truecut from, I think, Grace Co.
    If no one ever experimented we'd all still be making 4 patches.

  25. #25
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Hockeyrabbit

    Other than the table issue, how are you measuring your cuts? Are you using the grid on the mat, or are you using a two ruler method?

    I had always used the grid on the mat to line up and measure my fabric then placed the ruler to cut, and for repeats I would just slide my ruler to the left and keep cutting still using the grids on the mat.

    Recently I purchased Sally Collins book "Mastering Precision Piecing" and along with some sewing techniques that I now employ, I also switched to the two ruler cutting method she recommends.

    I like doing small piece blocks and with these precision is necessary down to the 1/16". Prior to reading Sally Collins I struggled and had to "fudge" a lot. Not any more.

    Get her book, and video. It's all about precision, precision, precision. I call it the "piecing primer".

    BTW - I'm using a plastic Beba mat placed on a formica table top. It's not an issue.

    Sue
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

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