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Thread: Rotary Cutter Fear

  1. #1
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    Question Rotary Cutter Fear

    I have several pieces of material to start a quilt, but I'm afraid to lay out and cut with the cutter and ruining the material. I have read several articles how to layout material. Is there a book that will show exactly how to fold and lay out to get ready for the cut? It has been several years ago since I made a quilt and at that time it was cut piece by piece with scissors.

  2. #2
    Senior Member GammaLou's Avatar
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    The craftsy classes are good at helping with all aspects of quilting. Check out their site for the class that is closest to what you want. They often have sales too!!!
    www.craftsy.com

  3. #3
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    Do you have a good size cutting mat? The larger the mat, the fewer the folds. I would look through youtube videos and see if there is one on folding and rotary cutting. I keep my fabric folded as it is on the bolt and then fold it once more. I bring the factory fold to the selvage edges and line them up. Lay a square (I use my 15 inch)or good size ruler on top of the fabric with the lines on the ruler along the folded edge. You want the ruler line against the fold first to prevent V shapes in the strips you are cutting off. Trim off the ragged edge first before cutting your first strip.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Practice cutting on some scraps or old pillow cases or sheets. Rotary cutter is there to make your life easier not to complicate it more LOL. Just bite the bullet and go for it. What is the worst that can happen? If is only fabric. Just watch your fingers, rotary cutters are realllllly sharp. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    You can always draw a cutting line and cut on the line. This will help you get over the fear of miscutting up your fabric. I have made many miscuts in my years of quilting. They are tossed in a scrap bin and used for something else. I will continue to make miscuts and you will too no matter how careful you are. It's part of the quilting life.
    Last edited by BellaBoo; 11-22-2012 at 07:42 AM.
    Got fabric?

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    I agree.........practice on your scraps or an old sheet but NOT on the good fabric until you feel at ease with the rulers and the cutter!! Also, get a lot of those sticky backed sandpaper dots to put all over your rulers so they do not slip on the fabric......nothing worse than a slippy ruler!! I only cut fabric 2 layers at a time....like it lays coming off the bolt. I find it is too easy to get the bends if I start folding and cutting 4 layers.

  7. #7
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    Do you have a quilting buddy that likes to cut? This would be the perfect time to have her over for some personal help. I love to cut and am fast and accurate and I never mind helping out other quilters who are hesitant. I frequently trade cutting duties for attaching borders (which I do not like). Your local quilt group or LQS might also be able to help you get started.
    Shelbie from the High County in Southern Ontario

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    You Tube is your friend. That's how I learned.

  9. #9
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    I would definitely take the others advice on practicing on scrap fabric first. Eleanor Burnes has free videos or as slicksister suggested: You Tube.
    When you sleep under a quilt, you sleep under a blanket of love.

  10. #10
    Super Member busy fingers's Avatar
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    Just take your time and make sure that the fabric edges are lined up - once you have gotten used to cutting with a ruler and rotary cutter you will never go back to scissors.

  11. #11
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    One of the problems I had when starting (and still do at times) is the ruler slipping. Those sandpaper dots help with that. Also, most of the tutes will give suggestions on how to hold the ruler so it doesn't slip. I've seen several suggestions so you just need to try them and see what works for you. As others have said, practice on old sheets or something similar. Then check to see if your cuts are straight and the strips are uniform width.

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    Great tips! My problem is same as the quiltsRfun's problem - rulers slipping or not staying in place, especially the long ones. Large clamps found in hardware stores, etc. are great in keepin the ruler in place. I usually put one at the end of the ruler and place my hand further up the ruler before using the rotary cutter. Works great for me.

  13. #13
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    Creative Grids rulers don't slip, they have grippers built in to the backs of them. I agree about the large cutting mat. Your cuts will be most accurate if you fold only along the original fold.

  14. #14
    Super Member teacherbailey's Avatar
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    rotary cutting basics

    Quote Originally Posted by jodimarie View Post
    I agree.........practice on your scraps or an old sheet but NOT on the good fabric until you feel at ease with the rulers and the cutter!! Also, get a lot of those sticky backed sandpaper dots to put all over your rulers so they do not slip on the fabric......nothing worse than a slippy ruler!! I only cut fabric 2 layers at a time....like it lays coming off the bolt. I find it is too easy to get the bends if I start folding and cutting 4 layers.
    If you can't find the sandpaper dots, I made my own once.....I cut squares of rough sandpaper that were about 1" square and then rubber-cemented them to the bottom of my big clear ruler. They work great and if you ever want to take them off, just do, and then rubb the rubber cement off with your finger. (More squares or dots are better than less, BTW!) I cut up to 8 layers at a time but I'm pretty experienced at this.
    Mistakes are just opportunities to invent a new quilting technique!

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    The article from the Quilting Board this week is on getting started and how to fold the fabric, etc. Can you find it? Of course, it isn't like watching a tutorial but it's a good one.

  16. #16
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    The best thing that ever happened to my world of quilting is that funny looking tool with suction cups on each end and a holding thingy in between (two cups upside down with the suction underneath, I can't remember the name of them and my sewing room is way outside and too cold to go find it right now); I use it for everything I cut out now. I got it at a booth in the last Paducah show I went to. I think I have even seen them at Jo Ann's.....
    Make every day count for something!

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  17. #17
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    The absolute most important thing about using rotary cutters is SAFETY! The first thing I insist that my students form as a habit is to never ever lay that cutter down until you know that the blade is closed. And, if you feel unsure about your strokes, I would recommend a safety glove (a la Fons and Porter). Another good safety device is a ruler handle (attaches via suction cups) or a guard.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldtnquiltinglady View Post
    The best thing that ever happened to my world of quilting is that funny looking tool with suction cups on each end and a holding thingy in between (two cups upside down with the suction underneath, I can't remember the name of them and my sewing room is way outside and too cold to go find it right now); I use it for everything I cut out now. I got it at a booth in the last Paducah show I went to. I think I have even seen them at Jo Ann's.....
    These devices are also available at hardware stores under the disguise of portable shower handles (at a much less expensive cost, too). Watch the Harbor Freight ads for a variety of sizes of suction cup handles.

  19. #19
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    I have never been able to find a product to keep my ruler from slipping. I've tried sand paper (pulls the fabric if I'm not doing it perfectly), strips of colorless tape didn't do a thing, those soft round circles you put under vases so they won't scratch furniture helped a little, but wore out after a time.

    My husband was the one who freaked out about the rotary cutter (which I couldn't do w/o!). He bought me a long plastic wedge (looks like those things they put on highways to keep oposing traffic from crossing over, but only an inch or so high). These wedges have adhesive already on them and you take off the protective film and place it down onto your 6x24" ruler. If your rotary were to "jump" it would hit this wedge. You can get these anywhere that they sell quilting supplies.

    Another thing he got me was "that funny looking tool with suction cups on each end and a holding thingy in between" mentioned above. It doesn't have any ruler etched on it, but I saw a man demonstrating it at a quilt show and he simply used the regular ruler to mark the cutting line (on the right side for right handers) and put this straight edge up against it on the left side, removed the ruler and sliced! This last gadget has a very high handle and nothing can slip as long as you press down on it.

    Also, getting a large self-healing mat is a must in my book, too! Have fun.
    Last edited by Sierra; 11-24-2012 at 07:46 AM.

  20. #20
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    Also, if you are going to cut strips, get a strip cutter mat. You merely place the blade in a slot and run it down the fabric and you have an instant strip without getting near the fabric with your fingers. Do be careful and ALWAYS close the cutter after EVERY cut. Never lay it down without closing the blade. (I used to charge my beginning students 50 cents every time I caught them leaving their blades open. They learned fast.)

  21. #21
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    If you can take a basic rotary cutting class from your local quilt shop, that would be very beneficial. I had been cutting with a rotary over three years and still got tips from the class. It was worth it for me.

  22. #22
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    You are right to be cautious about cutting...the suggestion of practicing on something like an old sheet is a great one...practice on that until you are comfortable with the cutter and rulers, folding fabric etc.

    Another suggestion would be going into a quilt store and asking for a demo...or to take a beginner class.

    I remember how scared I was of my rotary cutter when I first got it...back when they first came out....no one I knew had one to show me how to use it. It sat in a drawer for months until I finally got brave enough to take it out and try it. It is certainly a tool that has revolutionized the quilting world!

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  24. #24
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    Rotary cutters and mats are wonderful. So much faster and straighter than scissors. I still love scissors for cutting out curved clothing patterns, but for quilting I use the rotarys... Missouri Star Quilt Company has tons of videos on quilting shortcuts and cute projects, and you will see her use rotary cutters exclusively. Watch some of those and it will boost your confidence.
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  25. #25
    Junior Member krisgray's Avatar
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    You asked if there is a book that gives good rotary cutting instructions. I used Better Homes & Gardens' Complete Guide to Quilting to teach myself how to use the cutter. It even gives left hand instructions. All with illustrations, of course.

    I now keep a roll of double sided tape in my notions box to put on rulers and templates for slipping.

    Good Luck!!

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