R is for Rotary

R is for RotaryThe 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!

Gingher Rotary Cutters

My current favorite rotary cutter is from Clover.

Clover rotary cuttersThe 60mm one has pride of place on my cutting table these days. It’s nicely balanced which makes it easy to use.

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:

MagicEraserWetting the MagicEraser seems to make it last longer, and it does a great job of removing the lint that can get stuck to your cutting mat when you rub it gently over the surface of your 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.

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!

True GripsThese rulers that I love are supposed to be non-slip, but by themselves they’re not as non-slip as I’d like them to be. I was very happy when someone introduced me to TrueGrips.

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.

Daily Deal

From 12:01am on July 10, 2017 until 11:59pm on July 12, 2017 enjoy 15% off Feathered Christmas

Use promo code “A2Z-R” at the checkout

Add to CartFeathered Christmas $30.00
(Delivered as a digital download. Optional CD available at the checkout)


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!

Feathered Christmas

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight thread

Feathered Christmas with Embroidered Applique

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight thread

Feathered Christmas

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight thread



  1. Wow! Thanks for the hint about the Magic Eraser!!!

  2. I have this pattern and I think it is beautiful.

  3. Love it. Good tips on cleaning the mat. I will try it

  4. I have enjoyed checking in each day and reading the tips but how do I use the points I have been collecting? How did I miss this? It looks like anyone can use the codes but what about the points?

    • Points are accumulated for the chance to win one of 4 pretty cool prizes at the end!

      • Thank you, Sarah! I have checked in everyday and learned so much. Thanks for answering my question about the points. I got some true grips and Magic Eraser based on your tips!

  5. Huge thank you for all the tips today….I will be buying the true grips today! And using the magic eraser to clean my mats. I also love my Gingher cutter…and I love the Feathered Christmas design. I bought this last year when it came out and have made quite a few of the trees. They are just beautiful!

  6. Love the Christmas tree!

  7. Great tips! I need to replace the blades sooner than I do. The Feathered Christmas design is beautiful!

  8. I love my rotary cutter can do with out it. Thanks for the news today

  9. Had not heard about using Mr Clean to clean my mats! Will give this a try. I do use a wet Mr. Clean on my hot iron and it cleans the iron quickly and well. To avoid burning my fingers, I do lay the Mr. Clean on a surface and iron over it, ask my how I know this!

  10. I love the Kai rotary blades; they are super sharp and come in all the standard sizes and work on standard rotary cutters.

  11. Thanks for the tip about the magic erasers- plan to try this

  12. Excellent info for Beginners. Going to try the magic eraser on my mats.

  13. Really appreciate your tips. Even as an “older” quilter I can still learn new tricks!

  14. Great tips.. new blade, magic eraser, new rulers in correct size and true grips are on my shopping list… I love that feathered tree. The design and embroidery are gorgeous.. thank you

  15. Thank you for all the great info today. I am going to buy a magic eraser today and also change the blade in my rotary cutter!!

  16. Thank you for this information. The tip on cleaning the lint off of the mats was a new to me and will prove useful in the future.

  17. Thank you for the information on the magic eraser. My poor old mat is in need of some attention. Absolutely love these designs. I have the pattern. Looking forward to making this one.

  18. I have a “new” cutting board!!! It’s 3 years old but the magic eraser works!!!! Thank you

  19. Thanks for the tip about the magic eraser!

  20. Sarah, Thanks for these tips – I ho[pe you’ll keep them permanently available on your site. I know you’re a big fan of Titanium needles, but have you tried the Titanium rotary blades? As blades as so expensive, any means of having them last longer is welcome. Hhave you ever tried any methods of re-sharpening them? A few months ago I purchased a pack of blades thru Amazon for an Introductory Offer (for their Golden Blade Edition) from http://www.QuiltingBlade.com & they’re really nice! They have sizes from 18 – 60 mm & come with a nice container, to keep them clean & safe (logo is a crown, says “Fit for a King, Made for a Queen”).

    • Hi Karen,
      I haven’t heard of titanium rotary blades – and I also haven’t tried to sharpen a blade. Seems like we should be able to recycle blades – send them to a central place where they are resharpened and then resold. Hmmm… new business idea!

  21. I am loving your daily tips and specials!! I have this project and need to get started on it 🙂

  22. Love this a-z with ideas and tips. Gets my juices flowing every morning when I read the e-mail.

  23. Just love this A to Z it makes you put your thinking caps on. All the tips and idras are just great thankyou Sarah. ??

  24. I love my Gingher Rotary Cutter – it is the perfect weight and fits my hand so nice. Thanks for the Magic Eraser tip.

  25. I can’t wait to use your embroidery designs with this tree pattern.

  26. I enjoy receiving these. I am wondering if you are overloaded in filling orders? I ordered a different design under the discounts your are offering couple of days ago and have not received order yet. Have sent two different emails two date and no response or designs.

    • Hi Cathy,
      It seems like for every email I answer, there are 2 more added. I still haven’t gotten to the bottom since I got back from vacation 🙁 More work on that today!

  27. I can hardly wait to try the magic eraser tip to clean my rotary mats.

  28. Another day of great tips, Sarah. Love the Magic Eraser idea for cleaning the lint off of our mats. Christmas Tree is gorgeous!!
    Another person asked if these tips will be available on your web site after we are through with A2Z. I think that would be great also. Thanks.

  29. Love the tip about the Magic Eraser. My mat need a good scrub.

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