Well, the snowstorm of the century didn’t happen in Richmond. It did south, west, and north of us. We aren't home because of the weather, but we may be home because it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a time to reflect on the happenings of the past two years, your experiences and how they affect your knowledge, philosophies, and behaviors towards different races and cultures. We all have feelings about others, good and/or not so good. But think about how you behave towards these other groups, this includes how you talk to them. I’m guessing we all may need to change our behaviors and/or language used towards some groups. Today is a day to think about this.
I find that a day of sewing helps me refocus on such things. I can’t think about the shop, world events, the things that I should be doing at home or work instead of sewing. I end up making too many mistakes. But when cutting or chain sewing, I can think about me and my behaviors. So today I will be doing some straight line quilting and thinking of Dr. King and many of his speeches. I will put them on my phone and listen while sewing.
So, on to the topic in the header.
We didn’t really talk about rotary cutters before.
They come in several sizes, two ways to uncover the blade, and a few different types of blades. The larger the cutter, the fewer rotations it takes to cut. Many people with wrist, shoulder, and strength problems like using a 60mm cutter (the largest we carry). I feel that I have less control when cutting with a 60mm, so I prefer a 45mm for most cutting. I use a smaller blade, 28mm for trimming and cutting more than basic foundation paper piecing patterns. It allows me to get an 1/8th inch seam allowance, and see what I’m doing. If you like to free form or cut a lot of curves, a 28mm and a 18mm are good. When holding the cutter, place your index finger on the top of the cutter. This gives you direction control for the cutter.
Cutters have two ways to uncover the blade. One is a cover that you move down and up manually. You have to remember to cover the blade after each time you use it (especially if there are people that like to touch your tools). The other cutter works on pressure. You put pressure on the blade and the sheath moves out of the way. When you stop cutting, the sheath automatically covers the blade again. Both cut well, it's what you prefer for covering the blade when finished cutting.
Blades are available from most of the major companies – Kai, Olfa, Omnigrid.
It doesn’t matter what brand of cutter you have (except for Martinelli), blades are interchangeable. Kai, Olfa, Omnigrid, specialty cutters from Tula Pink, Lori Holt, Jen Kingwell, etc. all share blades (unlike computers and phones charging ports :0( ).
You can get regular blades, Endurance blades from Olfa that are supposed to last longer, pinking blades (like pinking shears), and blades that will cut small holes evenly spaced out. I like Kai blades, cutters, and scissors. However, I will use any company for a new blade when I need to change blades and the shop’s stock is low. Blades and cutters are still difficult to get at times.
Remember that you should change blades more often than you think. When you can hear the cutting, when it is a chore to push the cutter, when it is missing threads at regular intervals – these are all signs that the blade needs to be changed. Needles and blades should be changed after every large project. Large projects include large quilts and quilts with lots of cutting to do. Quilts that are all small-medium sized half-square triangles or flying geese and bigger than a lap would fall under the large project category.
When using your cutters, remember to approach the ruler from the side, blade parallel to the ruler edge and perpendicular to the surface/mat. Make sure you don't have the cutter at too high an angle as well. The bottom edge of the ruler should be off the edge of your fabric. Place the blade on the fabric, NEAR the fabric edge but not below it. Roll back, off the edge and then go forward for the remainder of the cut. This keeps you from: 1) Nicking the edge of the blade on the ruler and nicking the ruler, and 2) Having the fabric bunch up as you cut up along the edge of the fabric.
More information on rotary cutters can be found here.
Remember, you can save your blade on some projects. We have a hand-run Accu-quilt in the shop. Want to make your own charms squares, mini-charms, strip sets, equilateral triangles, hexies, and more? We have the large templates that will cut through up to 6 layers at a time. We will show you how to use it and then it’s up to you. It’s only $5/hr, and most patterns don’t require even an hour to cut! Just call and check to reserve it or see it is free when you would like to come. Don't want to crank yourself? Bring a child along(grand, your own, niece or nephew, neighbor), they love to crank.
Hope you are healthy and warm on this overcast day.
Happy sewing everyone,
Phyllis and the QA staff