Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whose Line is it Anyway?

I've spent most of the morning cutting strips for more scrap projects. I usually cut off a length of every new fabric I get and set it aside so when I have the time, (and the inclination!), I can cut strips.

I cut them 2.5 inches wide and at least 8" long. It's not so important to me that they all be the same size as I'm not cutting them for a particular project, I just sort them by color and use them for piecing.

I don't know about you but I really don't like rotary cutting. I know that it's faster than cutting with scissors, but my back and shoulders are always sore afterwards. Part of it is that I'm not using my cutting table, (I actually have one, but use a standard height table because my son does his homework in my studio, and I don't have a high chair for the cutting table). So, I'm stuck leaning over and messing up my back.

I also have to be sharper than usual, as with a lot of sewing projects I find I can tune out during a lot of the process. But, when you're using a sharp tool and a ruler you need to hold straight, well, it's kind of important to be aware. Especially because the major mess up I do is not reading my ruler right.

I have tons of rulers and they are all different. Some have an extra half inch on one side, others a quarter inch, some have the numbers starting in the middle of the ruler, and others are just plain hard to read. I have my favorites but since they're my favorites they're more likely to be buried somewhere under some pile, or they've fallen in between my desk and the wall. So, everytime I start cutting I have to look carefully at the ruler's lines and make sure I'm using the right one!

I've been wanting to buy a cutting machine for so long but have yet to find one that will serve my purposes. The die cutters are too limiting, and the other systems too complicated for my small brain to deal with.

I've used the rolling rotary cutters for years for my graphics business and have tried to cut fabric using one . . . doesn't work! So, when I was in JoAnns a few months ago I was excited to see that Fiskars has come out with a fabric rotary cutter. Woo Hoo! The best part was that I had a 50% off coupon so even if it turned out to be a dud I wouldn't be out too much cash.

The machine itself is very sturdy. It's heavier than my paper cutters and has a smooth surface with an easy to read grid. The grid has heavier marks at common cutting sizes, (2.5" yeah!). It will cut pieces up to 12" long and 13" wide.

The bar with the cutter is heavy and has to be lifted for each cut. It does have a nice grip on the bottom so once you have your fabric placed and lower the bar it isn't budging, which makes for an accurate cut. Once you have it in place you simple roll the cutting blade down, applying pressure.
I will say that it gives you a nice accurate cut. However, there are some downsides. You can cut up to 4 layers of quilting fabric at a time, but the time it takes to lift the bar, line it up, and cut makes it a lot slower than standard rotary cutting. Applying the pressure required to cut would be hard on a lot of people and actually make your back and shoulders hurt more. It also has the limitation that the piece of fabric you want to cut can't be more than 12" long, which requires precutting.
Now all that said, I still find this machine useful. It's handy to have beside me while piecing to cut off those overlong edges. I also like it for fabrics that really need a precise cut. I've had great success cutting stripes with it because it doesn't waver like my hand sometimes can. It's also handy for trimming finished blocks, as long as you have larger than 1/4" to cut. It doesn't do small trimming jobs well so you'll need to have your scissors or rotary cutter nearby to take care of those.

This would be a handy machine to have on hand when you want to do a small project, and don't feel like pulling out the cutting mat, rulers, and rotary cutter. For that reason alone I find it useful.

All in all I don't think it's a bad product, I just think that anyone who's going to be doing a lot of cutting would find it cumbersome.

I'm still working away on the butterflies. I have two more nearly done, (no antennae yet!), and then only two left to go. Hopefully I'll have photos to share tomorrow.

Happy Stitching, and Cutting!


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