Monday, July 14, 2008

Tool Time! | Olfa Rotary Cutter

There used to be a day when quilters had to use good old-fashioned scissors to cut their fabric. Luckily, that day is no more, thanks to the invention of the rotary cutter. Rotary cutting is perhaps the technique that will save you the most time in quilt making, as it eliminates the need for marking and cutting individual fabric pieces and strips. Beyond saving time, rotary cutting improves cutting precision, thus allowing for a more accurate quilt that lines up and who's seams meet in all the right places. As I venture into the wonderful world of sewing clothing as well as quilts, I can see the benefit of rotary cutting when cutting out pattern pieces too.

Rotary cutters function and look a lot like pizza cutters, but their blades slice through multiple layers of fabric. There are several different styles of rotary cutters, as well as different blade sizes, each of value for different types of cutting. I prefer the Olfa Deluxe Rotary Cutter 45 mm. It has both a safety lock and an easy-to-grip handle that lowers the blade when in use.

Generally, rotary blades will allow you to cut more layers of fabric at one time, but cutting too many layers at once can ruin your accuracy, so get plenty of practice before you try to be a hero and pile on loads of fabric. Replacement blades are easily found, so be sure to swap your blade for a new one as soon as it begins to dull.

When rotary cutting you'll also need a self-healing cutting mat (also available from Olfa), unless you want to slice through your fabric into your table/hard surface. Don't forget your clear quilter's rulers (I prefer Omnigrid) in order to make straight cuts and so that you can quickly and easily measure fabric strips. Necessary ruler size will vary depending on your project, but I mainly stick with a 15x15-inch square ruler, a 24x6-inch rectangular ruler, and a 18x2-inch rectangular ruler, which usually get the job done. Omnigrid rulers also have 30, 45, and 60 degree angled lines on them so that you can easily cut fabric at an angle other than square.

Rotary cutters can be found at any and all fabric stores differing in price. The Olfa's are usually between $10 - $40, but can often be found on sale at JoAnn Fabrics. Now, get quilting!


Melissa said...

I still need to buy a sewing machine...sigh.

Anonymous said...

My poor rotary cutters, mats and rulers have been sitting alone in my closet for far too long now. Reading your quilting posts is making me think I should pull them out again. Happy quilting!