Cutting wheel and board
I wonder if there are others out there who, like me, have always cut out garments with scissors. In my local fabric shop recently, I was tempted by a cutting board/ruler/wheel offer which I thought would be useful for patchwork. I haven’t had time to do any patchwork yet, but have used this equipment for garment cutting and my word, I wish I’d had it years ago! Such smooth, precise cutting, and so much quicker than with scissors! I’d recommend getting the biggest board you can afford if anyone is thinking of this.
I have always used scissors too & just recently my local store had all the cutting boards & wheels 50% off. I'd been eyeing them for quite some time & jumped on the opportunity. I LOVE the wheel for straight cutting and find the mat helpful since the measurements are right on it. It is so much faster & accurate, but I haven't quite got the hang of cutting out patterns yet. I've already lopped off the edges of 2 of my patterns, ruining my blade by going through a pin. So, I do need a bit more practice with that.
I use the cutter and board for all paper tracings and fabrics. I have two cutters: 1 for fabric and 1 for my traced patterns. Like scissors using cutters on paper blunts them quicker.
Several months ago I made a garment with boiled wool, in which the cut edges of the seam allowances, the neckline, and armscye, showed on the outside. It was nearly impossible for me to get the smooth edge I wanted with scissors, so I cut all the straight lines with the cutting wheel. Curved lines were trickier for me, but I found that a much smaller-diameter wheel was easier to turn along a curved line. The large wheels are difficult to see around, as well as to turn with the curve. A little practice made me more sure of myself. I prefer to use a straight-edge to brace the cutting wheel against when I'm cutting, and I was able to use a french curve on some of the curved lines. It's necessary to make the cuts in one smooth motion, though, to get that perfect edge. It also takes some strength to cut through a thick fabric, though; my wrists were more strained using the wheel than when using scissors.
Today I sewed a buttonhole I wasn't pleased with, but hated the thought of unpicking it - and then I thought if I was careful I could use my cutting wheel to 'slice' through the back rows of the stitching. I think on fine material this would be pretty risky, but I was working on denim and was able to successfully cut the back, and then just pull the thread on the front of the buttonhole. Maybe because my wheel is new, I barely needed to touch the stitching in order to cut it.
For the past ten-fifteen years I have done ALL my cutting with a rotary cutter and mat. It is far more accurate and very quick. I rarely, rarely use scissors to cut. I have hip and armscye acrylic curves to get my around the curves and I use a regular rotary cutter and a small one for the tight curves. Scissors just frustrate me now. So go for it and the more you do the better you will get at it. A princess seam dress can have 14 seams and by using a rotary cutter you can be perfectly accurate. If you are off 1/8 inch on those seams you could be adding an inch and 3/4s. solo
I, too, waited till just recently to try rotary cutters; now I love them! On garment patterns, I use mostly the rotary, then good scissors on tiny curves, but reading now about smaller blades may get me to go full-rotary. Also, I can't wait till I find a deal on a 4'x6' cutting mat so that I don't have to keep sliding the smaller mat around under my patterns.
A caution to newcomers to rotary cutters: read and follow ALL the safety instructions that come with your new tools. (Many horrific accidents have been recorded on this forum!)
Hey Guys;I had posted this little tip on another thread months ago, but since it is once again relevant, I would like to post it again...The white boards around the outside of hockey rinks make perfect rotary cutting mats, and they are huge!!! These boards are changed every few years due to wear and tear, so watch for your local skating rink to start changing theirs and grab one. I glued one down to a cutting table that is 2 1/2 m long, and 1 1/4 m wide, and have been happily cutting on it since. Also, I purchase all of my rotary cutters and blades from the hardware store where they are about half the price of the local fabric store, and still made by Olfa.Happy Sewing! T.
Hi T. That sounds amazing. I'll make inquiries at our ice hockey rink. I'm thrilled with my new cutting board and wheel - you might have seen my comments elsewhere. Even having to move it around under my cutting work doesn't deter me from using it rather than reaching for the scissors. But a huge one would be amazing! I've just found that the big 6" x 24" clear ruler also works as a great hem measure when measuring from the floor. Its width makes it lovely and stable and easy to mark from.Moira
Moira;Congrats on your new ruler, I am sure that you will find it to be an invaluable tool as time goes by. I personally cannot even begin to sew without mine now. I use mine for everything from trimming seams, to alterations.For hem marking, I use a laser level from the hardware store. I can just set the laser up, and pin out the skirt fullness from there.T.Oh, Ps. The hockey boards that I was talking about - I have a few little notes about them.1) They do need to be changed every 5 years or so, they are not "everlasting" like the olfa mats claim to be which, I might add, they are not. The ones in the hockey rinks are also changed more often than that, and you can purchase the product new for about $50.00 can for a 6' x 8' sheet. (still more cost effective)2) If you put a sheet of metal (I think mine's aluminum) under the board, then you can hold your fabric and pattern in place with magnets in order to cut it out. This is also great for pattern drafting, and alterations, it is like having 12 extra fingers!! I have several different sizes and strengths of magnets so that I can hold down those tiny little corners for a more accurate cut.3) You can write on it and erase with dry erase markers. This just about made me pee myself when I found out, I was so excited. I can keep all of my notes about a pattern, fabric, thread, stitch lengths and settings, anything that I need to know about a project written down right on my work table. 4) Once you get used to the magnet method, you are no longer using a bazillion pins, so there are fewer to pick up, and fewer to step on!!5) I like to use a wide metal straight edge when cutting with a rotary cutter. If you line it up along the cutting lines, you can get a very quick, and accurate straight line. I like to use a long piece of steel plating that has been cut for me to a length of 2 feet, and a width of 10 inches. I like this because I can get a lot of pressure on the straight edge to keep it from slipping while keeping all of my little digits intact ;-)I guess that was not really as much of a post script as it was a post novel, but there have been many incarnations of this table in my workspace, and I wanted to share the little improvements that I have made to it along the way.
Edited 8/16/2007 10:54 pm ET by tmorris1
Thanks for the tips--unfortunately, hockey rinks are scarcer than fabric stores in my part of the world!
You can order the product new as well, it is about $50.00 a sheet, which is still far more cost effective than buying even 1 large Olfa mat.
I've been using the rotary cutter since it first came on the market. Start out with the smaller blade until you master the feel for it, then go to one that uses the larger blade.
Be very careful with the rotary cutter - it is a razor blade and will cut fingers as quickly as it cuts fabric.
Watch for sales to purchase the cutter and mat. It would also be best if you used a quilting ruler to help make accurate cuts (quilt blocks and long strips) when you do not have a pattern to use as a cutting guide (garment making).
I have two large mats fastened together on my cutting table and the grids are very handy - along with the above mentioned quilting ruler.
Once you start using the rotary cutter you won't want to use the scissors for cutting out patterns or quilt blocks again.
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