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Thread: Cutting Faux Pas

  1. #1
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    Cutting Faux Pas

    This was day 2 of cutting with a rotary cutter, and I LOVE a rotary cutter! (Yes, as a matter of fact, I have been living under a rock...I don't get out much except to work and back.)

    At any rate, I wanted to know if there was a specific reason that occasionally I'd get wonky cutting lines, or if it's just a matter of practicing?

    Sometimes the cut would be about 1/4" away from the straight edge, and the cut line would look like little steps in a row. Other times, it looked like a drunkard was operating the cutter (I assure you, the latter was not the case...at least not today...although I've read that a little wine might solve the problem LOL).

    Still other times, despite being OCD about making sure I was 'squared up' before I cut, I ended up with a curve in my WOF strip. What's up with THAT? The most I cut was 4 layers.

    Thanks, as always, for the advice/tips.

  2. #2
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I often have a problem with the ruler slipping while I cut. I recently bought some new rulers that were advertised as 'non-slipping' and they really work great.
    ~~Cathy~~

  3. #3
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    If you end up with a V, it means you didn't fold the fabric correctly. I usually cut a 1/4 inch and they'd unfold and look for the V. No V means I can proceed.

  4. #4
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    A couple of things -- First, make sure your rotary blade is sharp and not dented, nicked or otherwise damaged. That would cause the "steps".

    hopetoquilt is correct about the "V" - your fold isn't quite right. Remember that the way the fabric is rolled onto the bolt is usually NOT exactly true. I think there's a lot of advice about this if you google it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sapphire_Rae's Avatar
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    Make sure the blade is tightened down enough (not too tight though).
    Lynda Rae

    "One who makes no mistakes -- never makes anything!" Author Unknown

  6. #6
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I always square my ruler up to the fold and not the selvage end when I am cutting strips. This trick has eliminated that dreadful "V" for me
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
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    there are sandpaper dots you can get to put on the back of your rulers to keep them from slipping....also - don't try to reach too far with the rotary..move your hand along as you cut - hold the ruler firmly, cut about 8 to 10 inches then carefully walk the hand on the ruler ahead a bit so that you're now holding down the part of the ruler where you're cutting next. Cut another 8 yo 10 inches and walk your hand up more..
    Kate

  8. #8
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    To avoid being 1/4" away from the straight edge, make sure your rotary cutter blade is straight up and down, not tilted away from the ruler. If it's jagged, you may not be holding the cutter with an even pressure. All it takes is some practice.

  9. #9
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Make sure you are keeping your cutter at a 90 degree angle to the board. When my mom started quilting and using rotary cutters, she had a tendency to rotate the cutter as she ran it up the ruler, which angled against the ruler and resulted in a cut that was as much as 1/4" off. Also, if you get "stepping", slow down.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    you may already be performing correctly, but let's get back to basics...

    if you are right handed, the cutter goes in your right hand and your left hand holds the ruler down. if you are left handed, go vice versa, but your rotary cutter blade needs to be changed to the other side.

    while you are learning, cut through the least amount of layers of fabric - from front to back...not toward you, but away. sometimes, the fabric shifts.

    to practice cutting fabric without a "v" forming, fold over one piece of fabric to form a double layer. don't use the bottom of the ruler as a starting point. instead, start at another point, let's say the half-inch mark. match the mark that appears on both edges of the ruler.

    another point: to start with a straight cutting edge, carefully cut to the right of the fabric. when that is square, flip the fabric over and adjust the fabric so that the layers are straight. using your ruler, measure the fabric from left to right and cut it using your rotary cutter.

    another point: while you are learning, you might not want to cut long lengths of fabric. this might be pulling your fabric. vice versa for left handed.

    when you make sure that the basics are addressed, then you may have different questions.
    "perfection is the enemy of done."
    "the secret to having it all is knowing you already do."

  11. #11
    Super Member LoisM's Avatar
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    You've received great advice from everyone but I would also suggest you do a bit of practicing on cheap cuts of fabric (such as muslin) and not something you've planned for your first project. And do yourself a favor and watch these two videos: "How to Square your quilting fabric" (before cutting) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcpzwJMVTbc and "How to Cut Fabric with a Rotary Cutter". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybQLai6Mv58

    Hope this helps.

  12. #12
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    I had a problem with my rotary cutter once and found that I had two blades on instead of one

  13. #13
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    Rush88888 covered most of it. You need to be sure your ruler remains still, but it is also possible to waver from the edge of the ruler if you are nit careful. Try to hold the cutter at a consistent angle. I use a June Taylor Shape Cut (1/2") for almost all of my cutting because I have to sit while I cut and it make it easier for me to keep my cuts true. as you go along, please remember to sharpen or change blades regularly. Dull blades chew the fabric, rather than cutting it and are much harder to use. As much as I hate ironing, having your fabric freshly pressed does matter in getting good cuts.

  14. #14
    Member Tracy_Lit5's Avatar
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    This is the best tip a friend told me about to keep my ruler from getting out of line.
    Buy a bathtub suction-cup handle like this. By putting this on my ruler, I can get a better "grip" and it stays in place REAL WELL when I make those cuts (large or small)
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  15. #15
    Super Member HillCountryGal's Avatar
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    I too used to have the same problem as you. Until a friend told me to be sure and keep one finger on the fabric while holding the ruler. Made all the difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktbb View Post
    there are sandpaper dots you can get to put on the back of your rulers to keep them from slipping....also - don't try to reach too far with the rotary..move your hand along as you cut - hold the ruler firmly, cut about 8 to 10 inches then carefully walk the hand on the ruler ahead a bit so that you're now holding down the part of the ruler where you're cutting next. Cut another 8 yo 10 inches and walk your hand up more..
    I had a bit of a problem with ruler slippage but I bought Grip Strips from Guidelines4Quilting.com. They let the ruler slip over the fabric when lining up but when you put pressure on the ruler to cut they grip the fabric and no more slippage.
    Not bad for $10.00 you get 6 strips - 2 on your 12" ruler & 4 for your 24" ruler

  17. #17
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    I straighten my fabric like in the video. Thank You Lois for posting the video because I could'nt explain it in writing. I was taught to do thid by a quilting teacher years ago.
    Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind see.
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  18. #18
    Super Member eparys's Avatar
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    I agree - Rush8888 covered almost everything I would have told you. I will add two thoughts -

    I am right handed so when I cut, the ruler is always on my left and I cut straight ahead starting at the edge of the ruler closest to me. I NEVER cut right to left, left to right nor will I cut on the left side of the ruler.

    When I have a long cut, I place my cutter in my right hand and my left hand on the ruler near the edge I plan on cutting. I cut about 5" then without moving the rotary cutter, my left fingers "walk" up the ruler so that they are next to where the next 5 or 6 inches of cut will be. Do I ever not do this? Well yeah - and that is when I get wavy cuts or the ruler slips.

    The are several products others mentioned here that you can purchase to put on the back of your ruler to keep it from slipping. All work - I have tried them all but my favorite and something readily available here in the States is plain old Rubber Cement. It is completely clear, cheap and when it gets yucky looking rubs off easily.

    Good luck - and OBTW practice makes perfect!
    Betty

    A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.

    http://notesfrommoosehaven.blogspot.com

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    Thank you everyone for these great tips! I am a lefty, and was wondering if there was an "issue" about placement of that blade. I keep bumping the knob on my ruler. Going right now to change it!
    And even as a noob, I realize how much better it would be with bigger equipment. I'm currently using an 18" fiskars self-healing mat, and a 6x12 non-slip ruler. They're ok and do the job just fine, but it would be better to have the wonderfully large cutting spaces that many of you have.
    Oh, and there's a lot to be said for a table that's the right height...holy cow a 6' folding table is too low! Must put some 2x4s under the legs!

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    Once I get my ruler exactly where I want it I put a weight on the end furthest from me, just to help in keeping it in place as I tend to unintentionally loosen up on the ruler while cutting. But I also walk down the ruler as I cut as someone else described. Cut some, move my hand up the ruler, cut more, keep going till I'm done.

    My "weight" is really just the head of a smallish sledge hammer that I made a fabric cover for so you can't tell what it is(and contrary to his "I'm gonna find a handle for it soon" speech), DH hasn't even noticed it's not in the garage anymore. I use it all the time for so many things while sewing and cutting. I also "borrowed" a 2" socket from the garage(he keeps all his real tools at work anyways) and turned it into a weight/pin cushion.

  21. #21
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teeler View Post
    Thank you everyone for these great tips! I am a lefty, and was wondering if there was an "issue" about placement of that blade. I keep bumping the knob on my ruler. Going right now to change it!
    And even as a noob, I realize how much better it would be with bigger equipment. I'm currently using an 18" fiskars self-healing mat, and a 6x12 non-slip ruler. They're ok and do the job just fine, but it would be better to have the wonderfully large cutting spaces that many of you have.
    Oh, and there's a lot to be said for a table that's the right height...holy cow a 6' folding table is too low! Must put some 2x4s under the legs!

    Often I have heard that people will put bed risers under their cutting tables to make them the right height.
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  22. #22
    Super Member running1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopetoquilt View Post
    If you end up with a V, it means you didn't fold the fabric correctly. I usually cut a 1/4 inch and they'd unfold and look for the V. No V means I can proceed.
    Wow.... I would have NEVER thought to do this!! I always just fold as carefully as I can and hope for no "V"... THank you for this excellent tip!!!

    soooo glad I hopped onto the QB today!!! :-D
    "... let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

  23. #23
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    When you start a long cut, put pressure on the lower half of the ruler. Then stop cutting, walk your fingers to the next section and keep cutting. If you try to control the ruler for a single cut, it is easy to shift the ruler.

    I make sure that my fabric hangs properly when held salvage to salvage before I fold it to cut. That avoids the "Vs".

    When I have to make multiple cuts, I add the widths and make one cut to that width before sub-cutting that piece.
    Example, instead of cutting 4 strips of 2.5" in a row, I cut one strip of 10" and then sub-cut that into 5" and 2.5"
    increments.

    If I keep making separate cuts, I check periodically that my fabric is still square. You'll be amazed how much shift you can accumulate.
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  24. #24
    Super Member eparys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teeler View Post
    Thank you everyone for these great tips! I am a lefty, and was wondering if there was an "issue" about placement of that blade. I keep bumping the knob on my ruler. Going right now to change it!
    And even as a noob, I realize how much better it would be with bigger equipment. I'm currently using an 18" fiskars self-healing mat, and a 6x12 non-slip ruler. They're ok and do the job just fine, but it would be better to have the wonderfully large cutting spaces that many of you have.
    Oh, and there's a lot to be said for a table that's the right height...holy cow a 6' folding table is too low! Must put some 2x4s under the legs!
    Is the blade reversible? Some are -but others can just be turned around - what brand cutter are you using?

    As far as the height - go to Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond and get the stack of bed risers - that is what our guild uses when we have a work day or go on retreat. it will be stable easy to store if you dont want the table high all the time.
    Betty

    A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.

    http://notesfrommoosehaven.blogspot.com

  25. #25
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    If you want perfect strips, I really recommend the June Tailor Shape Cut ruler. It is the best ruler I have ever bought.
    The best money I have ever spent on my quilting notions. And I have a lot of quilting rulers. It might really help you. And if you sign up for Joann's e-mails, they will have printable coupons that you can use.

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