The first thing that springs to my mind when I hear the word rotary is rotary cutter. They are a marvelous invention that allows quilters (and scrapbookers!) to cut straight lines accurately and easily. Would you still be making quilts if the rotary cutter hadn’t been invented? 🙂
I have a whole collection of rotary cutters. I love my Gingher rotary cutters because they feel so good to use – and they’re gorgeous to look at too!
My current favorite rotary cutter is from Clover.
One of the features I really like about the Clover rotary cutters is that they are ambidextrous, i.e. they can be used by both lefties and righties. Unscrew the knob on the back of the blade housing, remove the blade, flip the green blade cover over, pop the blade back on and you’re ready to go with the other hand. Perfect if your best friend comes over to sew all the time and you’re a rightie and she’s a leftie!
What’s the most important thing to do for your rotary cutter? Now that I’ve written that question I can think of a couple of things! First of all, any time you’re not using your rotary cutter
Be sure to cover the blade
however that works for your particular rotary cutter. Most rotary cutters have a slider which covers and uncovers the blade. I’ve highlighted this tip in red for good reason – if you forget to cover your blade, you can almost guarantee that you (or someone else) will end up spilling red stuff from a finger. And it usually ends up in a highly prominent place on the quilt that you’ve spent hours of effort creating.
The second thing to do is change the blade periodically.
In the whole scheme of this (expensive!) hobby of ours, a replacement blade for your rotary cutter comes in at the lower end of the expense scale, yet it’s something that is easily forgotten. When you have a new blade on your rotary cutter, cutting fabric is as easy as cutting butter with a hot knife. If you’re having to exert a lot of energy to cut your fabric, chances are you need a new blade on your rotary cutter. Or you might be trying to cut too many layers of fabric. For the majority of the time, I cut 2 layers of fabric together. Very rarely I’ll fold it so that I’m cutting 4 layers. Any more than that and the accuracy of the cut goes downhill very rapidly.
Whenever you’re using a rotary cutter, you’re going to need a mat to go with it. Rotary cutting mats are “self healing” and can last a long time. (Unless you live in AZ and you leave your mat sitting in the summer sun, in which case they warp and become unusable for cutting straight lines!) They do have a tendency to get linty, especially if you’re cutting flannel, wool or batting. A friend introduced me to this easy way of removing the lint from my cutting mat:
The other thing you’re going to need with your rotary cutter is a ruler – one designed to be used with a rotary cutter, not just any old ruler! My favorite is the 8 1/2″ x 24″ Omnigrip ruler.
When you’re cutting pieces for your quilts, you want to make sure that they have square corners and straight edges. The first thing to note is:
Make sure your ruler is LONGER than the cut you want to make
Since the majority of fabric comes at 44″ wide and is folded in half on the bolt, the 24″ long ruler satisfies that criteria. If you have to move the ruler half way through the cut, you risk introducing “bends” in the cut, and then the sides of your shape are no longer parallel and they’re supposed to be, and when you’re stitching your blocks together you wonder why the finished thing isn’t flat when it should be……
Here’s the second thing to note:
The wider your ruler is, the more accurate the square corner is going to be
The bigger the piece you want to cut, the bigger your ruler will need to be. My 20 1/2″ x 20 1/2″ Omnigrip ruler is a good friend!
One on each corner of your ruler, 1/2″ in from the edge, works wonders. For bigger rulers add more to the center of the ruler for even more slip protection.
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What I love about this collection… I love that the AccuQuilt GO! Heather Feather #1 and #2 dies launched a whole new career for Cherry Guidry when she made this gorgeous Christmas wall hanging.
Cherry used to be a long arm quilter. In her original quilt, she used all of the shapes from both of the Heather Feather dies and raw edge appliqué.
A photo of her quilt posted on Facebook found it’s way to me. A few emails and phone calls later and Cherry was creating a pattern for her quilt. Now she’s creating more patterns, embroidery designs and has numerous fabric collections!
It tooks us a few years to figure out working together to add embroidered appliqué to Cherry’s quilt, but I’m so happy we did!