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Thread: I can't use a rotary cutter

  1. #1
    Senior Member auniqueview's Avatar
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    I don't know if it is the same kind of problem as "I can't draw a straight line using a ruler"....and I swear, I really can't, or just because I am left handed, but I cannot cut with the rotary cutter. I am messing up fabric, and I have been practicing on scraps, too. I use my clear plastic ruler, my heavy duty wooden ruler, try religiously to follow the lines in my cutting mat...all useless. I really need to be able to cut straight with it, and not look like I was on a roaring drunk before I picked it up.

    I hate to have to take my fabric to the LQS and ask them to cut strips for the quilt I am trying to make for my cousin. Not that I won't if I have to, mind you, because I really love that cousin, but I need to be able to do it myself. HELP!!!

  2. #2
    Super Member grammyp's Avatar
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    Have you tried a left handed rotary cutter?

    http://www.amazon.com/Gingher-01-002.../dp/B0026IPASQ

  3. #3
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auniqueview
    I don't know if it is the same kind of problem as "I can't draw a straight line using a ruler"....and I swear, I really can't, or just because I am left handed, but I cannot cut with the rotary cutter. I am messing up fabric, and I have been practicing on scraps, too. I use my clear plastic ruler, my heavy duty wooden ruler, try religiously to follow the lines in my cutting mat...all useless. I really need to be able to cut straight with it, and not look like I was on a roaring drunk before I picked it up.

    I hate to have to take my fabric to the LQS and ask them to cut strips for the quilt I am trying to make for my cousin. Not that I won't if I have to, mind you, because I really love that cousin, but I need to be able to do it myself. HELP!!!
    Did you reverse the cutter blade? They come packaged for us righties. You need to change the blade's location to the side that works best for you.

    BTW, the ruler "draws" the straight line.

  4. #4
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grammyp
    Have you tried a left handed rotary cutter?

    http://www.amazon.com/Gingher-01-002.../dp/B0026IPASQ
    Most cutters can be reversed! Just change the blade location.

  5. #5
    Super Member LyndaOH's Avatar
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    One idea is to get one of the cutting systems that are out there. Another would be to get some private lessons at your LQS on cutting. Have someone watch you cut and maybe they can diagnose where the problem is. If the ruler is moving on you, there are grippers to hold it in place.

    Are your cuts in a straight line but not perpendicular to the edge of the fabric or are they just generally weaving?

  6. #6
    Super Member 3incollege's Avatar
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    I am left handed and I only had a problem of which side to cut. Make sure you are presses down hard enough.
    Just practice and you will get the hang of it. Are you changing your blades?

  7. #7
    Junior Member antiquegirl68's Avatar
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    I don't think it is because you are left handed, I have the same problem but was thinking it is something wrong with me. It looks straight until I cut it and then it looks like I was drunk or something I hold my ruler there and everything but still comes out crazy.

  8. #8
    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannieAnnie
    Quote Originally Posted by auniqueview
    I don't know if it is the same kind of problem as "I can't draw a straight line using a ruler"....and I swear, I really can't, or just because I am left handed, but I cannot cut with the rotary cutter. I am messing up fabric, and I have been practicing on scraps, too. I use my clear plastic ruler, my heavy duty wooden ruler, try religiously to follow the lines in my cutting mat...all useless. I really need to be able to cut straight with it, and not look like I was on a roaring drunk before I picked it up.

    I hate to have to take my fabric to the LQS and ask them to cut strips for the quilt I am trying to make for my cousin. Not that I won't if I have to, mind you, because I really love that cousin, but I need to be able to do it myself. HELP!!!
    Did you reverse the cutter blade? They come packaged for us righties. You need to change the blade's location to the side that works best for you.

    BTW, the ruler "draws" the straight line.
    Grannie Annie is right - make sure your blade is on the right side. You want the line up to be: Your hand, the rotary cutter, the blade, then the ruler. And make sure you have a sharp blade in it.

  9. #9
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    I am left handed, but I don't think that's the problem. I have trouble cutting a straight line with a regular ruler. The June Tailor Shape cutter with the slots has been a strip saver for me. I think my problem is that my hands are very strong and I don't hold the cutter against the ruler well enough. Shape Cutter, here I come.

  10. #10
    a regular here
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    I am left handed and I can use a rotary cutter without problems. Be sure to keep your cutter snug against your clear ruler.

  11. #11
    Super Member fayzer's Avatar
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    Here is a left handed tutorial. http://www.purlbee.com/rotary-cutter-tutorial/

    Less expensive left handed rotary cutters here: http://www.quiltbug.com/notions/rotary-cutters.htm

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    You might want to invest in an Accuquilt Go! die cutter. This is a really good home system for people who have difficulty making accurate cuts with a rotary cutter.

    A much cheaper thing to try out first (for straight strips) would be a June Tailor Shape Cut mat. This is a flexible mat with cut-outs to hold your rotary cutter in place as you roll. If your problem is with how you are holding the rotary cutter (the blade should not be tilted as you roll), it will show up when you use this mat.

  13. #13
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    Altho not left handed, most people try placing their cutter down then cutting. My teacher taught me to place cutter, start cutting then cut into fabric. Come in at an angle. If you place too much pressure on the ruler, you will move it out of place. sut.
    Of course you have to have your selvadges matched up and your fabric squared before you start cutting.

    Another thought: have you ever tried to cut right handed? It may work.

  14. #14
    RST
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    Senior Member RST's Avatar
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    Another frequent error is having your cutting table height either too low or too high-- either will tend to make your cuts poor.

    RST

  15. #15
    Super Member butterflies5518's Avatar
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    OMG! I thought it was just me! Lefty too and sometimes my cuts are really wonky and frustrating as all get out! Thanks for the sigh of relief - I will be checking out these links this evening. Thank you all!

  16. #16
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    When I took my beginning quilting class, the instructor probably spent close to half an hour talking about cutting, Proper ruler placement, how to hold the ruler and walk your hand up to follow the cut, how to hold the cutter, actually making the cut etc.
    So you can see that there is a bit to it. I agree with going to your LQS, or a quilting friend to get some pointers.
    You make a comment about the lines on your mat. Normally you don't use these lines for measuring or cutting, just rough estimates.

  17. #17
    Senior Member auniqueview's Avatar
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    Duh. I didn't realize I could switch the blade. I did, and it already made a world of difference. I do have some problem with the ruler sliding on me, and have looked for some of those strips to make it non slippery, but couldn't find them. Thanks for the help. I will watch the tutorial, too, and practice, practice, practice,....but already, this is easier.

  18. #18
    Senior Member auniqueview's Avatar
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    [quote=GrannieAnnie]
    Quote Originally Posted by auniqueview


    BTW, the ruler "draws" the straight line.
    Mu rulers don't behave, because my lines all run amok.

  19. #19
    Super Member GGinMcKinney's Avatar
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    I went to Lowe's and got a pkg of clear bumps. They stick to bottom of ruler and really help hold them in place.
    Also, I use a ruler to find where I want to cut, place another ruler against it, move the first ruler and then cut. I think that means I measure to right of ruler, but cut to left of other ruler. I am right handed, but since using two rulers I get straight lines. Maybe some of us need to measure on one side & cut on the other. I think we all have to find what works for us individually. I cannot fold fabric more than once or I get the wonky angle at the fold.

    Quote Originally Posted by auniqueview
    Duh. I didn't realize I could switch the blade. I did, and it already made a world of difference. I do have some problem with the ruler sliding on me, and have looked for some of those strips to make it non slippery, but couldn't find them. Thanks for the help. I will watch the tutorial, too, and practice, practice, practice,....but already, this is easier.

  20. #20
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    I also have trouble with the dreaded V on the fold most of the time. If I take the time to find the straight of grain by ripping WOF and then line up the selvages; I usually do all right. Some fabrics seem to be too warped no matter what and then I just cut parallel to the selvages instead of WOF.

    To keep the ruler from sliding I have put sand paper dots on my small 6.5" square ruler that I use when squaring up patches or fussy cutting. When cutting WOF, I use my 6 x 24" ruler and keep my pinky & ring fingers on the matt to steady the ruler & slide my hand up it if necessary; pausing with the rotary cutter while I slide.

    I keep looking at the June Tailor Shape Cut Plus ruler and daydreaming but I have the Alto Quilt Cut and need to make more use out of it. It will hold the cutting guide & fabric steady but I normally only use it for cutting scraps into usable sizes. I got in the habit of that even though I know it will work for yardage and just haven't forced myself to do it.

    Others seem to like using the suction cup handle things on their rulers. There is a thread on this board about finding them at Harbor Freight for much less than the quilt shops charge.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Rhaorth's Avatar
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    I read on here (don't remember who posted it sorry) to keep the ruler from slipping you can glue small squares of sandpaper to the bottom. might be worth a try

    I am a righty and I get wonky cuts sometimes, and I know it is because my ruler slips.

  22. #22
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by auniqueview
    Duh. I didn't realize I could switch the blade. I did, and it already made a world of difference. I do have some problem with the ruler sliding on me, and have looked for some of those strips to make it non slippery, but couldn't find them. Thanks for the help. I will watch the tutorial, too, and practice, practice, practice,....but already, this is easier.
    I learned on here that it is cheap to paint a line of rubber cement on the back of the rulers and let dry. It has helped with the slipping of the ruler alot. I did it around all sides and an x in the middle of the larger squares. I let it dry overnight and that was fine.

  23. #23
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I've noticed that I'm most likely to get wonky cuts if my fabric is not perfectly straight and flat under the ruler. If the top layer of fabric is smooth but the underneath layer is the least bit loose then a 'bump' will form as you go forward and bye-bye straight cut.

  24. #24
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    When you lay your fabric out on your cutting mat make sure that the fabric lays evenly on one of the lines at the bottom of the mat and also along one side. This will mean that the fabric is squared on the mat. Then when you use your cutting ruler be sure your ruler marks are even at the top and bottom of the fabric according to the lines on the mat. When you cut this way everything is in square and you won't get angled cuts. The rubber cement tip is a great one and I've used that for a long time. My ruler doesn't slip at all as long as I apply even pressure to the ruler. I use a 45 rotary cutter blade, I found the larger the blade the harder it is to keep it rolling straight. I also have some size 20 cutters and blades that I use to square up blocks. That might just be me but I find the smaller sizes to be more accurate when I make the cuts.

  25. #25
    Super Member AliKat's Avatar
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    If you continue having problems you might want to look at Alto's Quilt Cut 2. It does make cutting much easier.

    I agree, height of your cutting surface matters as well as how you hold your rotary cutter. Something to help your ruler stay in place is also a great help.

    ali

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