26 August 2014

Top 10 Tips for New Quilters - Cutting Accuracy

This week's installment of the Top 10 Tips for new quilters is Cutting Accuracy.  For the complete line up of tips, please see this page.

There are two methods for cutting accurately - Rotary Cutting and the AccuQuilt GO! Cutters.

Purchase Quality Tools that are of an Appropriate Size for the Job.

When I first started quilting, being quite frugal, I purchased a 6" x 12" acrylic ruler, a tiny 28mm rotary cutter and a wee little 8" x 11" cutting mat.  What was I thinking?  It quickly became apparent that these tools were not going to be adequate in size and/or were of poor quality.

My 28mm rotary cutter by Komfort Kut was junk.  The blade would not sit properly on the axis and would wobble and cut all crazy like.  The cutter did not even last long enough for the blade to go dull.

For cutting yardage, I also needed a larger acrylic ruler and mat.  I ended up investing in a 6" x 24" Omnigrid ruler, a 45mm OLFA Splash rotary cutter, and a 24" x 36" OLFA cutting mat.

SUPER TIP:  When purchasing and using acrylic rulers, stick with the same brand name.  There will be slight variations between different manufacturers.  Using the same ruler throughout an entire project will aid in accurate cutting.

SUPER TIP:  Prolong the life of your cutting mat.  Fill you bathtub with room temperature water, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar and a squirt of dish soap. Scrub your mat with a soft bristle brush, rinse with cool water and dry with a towel. Your self healing mat will absorb the water and become supple again, helping your mat last longer, and keeping your blades from dulling so quickly.

Steps for Accurate Cutting.

  • Press your fabric before cutting.

  • Square up the raw edge of the crosswise grain, using a steady pressure on both the acrylic ruler and the rotary cutter. Ensure you are cutting square to the folded edge of your fabric.

  • Line up this squared edge with the appropriate measurement along the length of your ruler to cut strips.  For this example, I am using 4.5" strips.

  • Continue to ensure your strips are cut square to the folded edge as you continue and square up the raw edge again as needed.
  • Ensure your ruler is squared up with the strip when crosscutting strips into smaller pieces. 

  • Also measure and square up blocks during your piecing process to ensure accuracy.

SUPER TIP:  Always use a sharp blade in your rotary cutter.  A dull blade will not cut as accurately, will skip threads in the fabric, and cause the fabric to be pushed instead of cut.  Dull blades will cause you to put excessive pressure on the blade, damaging your cutting mat and putting yourself at risk for injury.

Hope you enjoyed this week's tips on cutting accuracy.
Do you have any tips to share?  Leave a comment!

Keep On Quilting On!


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Lara B. said...

Great tips Lorna! I wish I knew you when I first started out! I am going to try your cutting mat bat and see ig I can't breathe new life into my oldest mat.

Lara B. said...

It is supposed to say "cutting mat bath and see if" I can't type for beans today.

klh said...

Sometimes I find that the selvage edges are wavy and hard to evenly align. What do you do when this happens?
Thanks for the 'bath' tip, hadn't heard that one before, will be trying it out.

Lisa J. said...

I hadn't heard the bath tip either...and also the importance of the blade being so sharp. I don't want to damage the mat.

Daytona Damsel said...

Thanks for that bath trick. I will be giving mine a bath before I use it again.

Lorna McMahon said...

The selvage edges don't have to line up perfectly. Just try to keep the print square to the fold of the fabric.

MalinisQuilts said...

Wow! Those are some valuable tips for new quilter. Thanks for putting it together so nicely!

Doris Rice, The Quilting Queen said...

Great information for old and new quilters! Thank you!

Diana @ Red Delicious Life said...

Great tip on the bathing the cutting mat. Definitely want to try that in the next few weeks. Thanks!

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge said...

Thanks for the tips, Lorna. Though I'm not a beginner quilter anymore, I don't think I've ever seen as detailed a description on how to square up fabric. And it never, never occurred to me to give my mat a bath... I'll be continuing to read your future installments!

Vicki said...

I so enjoyed hearing all these tips. I will try giving my cutting mat a bath as soon as I can get down on my knees. Thanks again!

Joanna @ Riddle and {Whimsy} said...

I wish I had rulers all of the same brand! I've had to just buy whatever brand was available in the sizes i wanted at the time so they're all different. I have noticed two of them have slightly different measurements :( I really want to get a set of Creative Grids rulers as my favourite ruler to use is one of them (but it's a small one so I can't use it on everything) but since I have rulers already I'm finding it hard to justify buying more of the same -standard- sizes when I have the choice of buying rulers vs pretty new fabric lol.

Sharyn Hutchinson said...

Thanks for the tips, especially the one about restoring a cutting mat in the tub. Good stuff!

Marti Morgan said...

Love the tips, and especially the cutting mat care.

Unknown said...

All great tips. For me, it's getting my rotary mat OFF the floor and onto a hard surface that helps. I tend to flop on the carpet to cut and that's not helping me at all and I know it. Ooof! I blame my laziness.

Jo Ferguson said...

Yes!!! I enjoyed the tips!!! Thanks, they were useful and enlightening.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I'm new to making quilts. thank you so much for the tip on cleaning my mat. I was cutting yesterday and wondered how to bring my mat back to original life.

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