Tools: Rotary Cutter
July 16, 2012
If I were to suggest one tool to beginners to sewing it would be,hands-down, a rotary cutting tool. This must-have tool completes similar tasks but doesn't replace a good pair of shears but what it does do with save you tons of time and hassle. I currently have 2 sizes of rotary cutters, a 60mm (which I have had for about 7-8 years) and a 45mm. I love having both sizes and recommend these 2 sizes once you have tried the rotary cutter and see what it can do for you. First, let's start with the larger, 60mm, rotary cutter. I use this as my default cutter and it is especially handy for long, straight cuts. The 60mm is great for home décor, apparel and some quilting. The larger blade means that is can cut faster which is especially great for long, straight lines. The 45mm is much smaller and more nimble than the 60mm. It is great for quilting and some apparel. I especially love it for cutting out the tight curves of the hills in my current quilting pattern (Denyse Schmidt's Hills n' Hollers) and for some neckline and crotch plackets and other tight, curved areas. Having one of each size rotary cutter means that you can jump from one to the other to fit the project, to get you out of a tight spot, or down a long straight away.
There are 2 other items that go with a rotary cutter. The first is imperative, a cutting mat. Otherwise you are just going to cut up your table and dull your blade faster. Most cutting mats self-heal so they will last you a LONG time. I have had mine for 7-8 years and it still looks and works great. Keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid curling and buckling. The second item is less imperative but no less handy, a transparent ruler. These are especially great for cutting straight lines with your rotary cutter (you can use it as a guide), for truing up your fabric and cutting bias strips. The clear ruler can help you see your fabric patterns, determine if your patterns pieces are on grain and can help you line up markings. You can also purchase specialized blades like pinking blades or chenille blades.
Caring for your blade is easy. Make sure your clean out the lint from your cutter often and replace (or sharpen) your blade as soon as you notice the cut start to deteriorate (skipped areas or having to go over a line several times) this will save you a lot of time and hassle. Also, when working with a new rotary cutter or blade run it over a scrap piece a few times to get the blade moving well; they can be stiff at first. A rotary cutter may seem like a bit of an investment in the beginning (because you need the mat and ruler to go along) it will pay for itself in time save and hassle with in the first month if not sooner. You will love it!
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