So now that you have your fabric and you have washed it (or not), It’s time to start cutting for your project! In this post, I’ll talk about using rulers, cutting safety and other tips that will help you to successfully cut out your project.
First, let’s talk about rulers. No matter the brand you use, it’s always a good idea to be familiar with all the markings and lines on your rulers. I prefer Creative Grid (photo on left) rulers because they are clear, they have gripper dots and strips embedded on the back for less slipping (photo on right) and the markings are designed to be easily read no matter which side of the ruler you are working off of.
Now for safety! About 3 years ago I sliced off a tip of my finger on my left hand because my rotary cutter slipped and skid off the ruler right into my finger… OUCH! How do we avoid this? Follow the three main safety steps I take now.
First: Make sure your rotary blade is not dull. You know your blade is dull if you have to press down too hard to cut the fabric. Pressing down hard is a way to lose control of the cutter and cause accidents. A good rule of thumb is to replace your blade before it gets dull. I advice testing your blade on scrap fabric before you begin to cut out a project.
Second: Do not ever leave the blade open when you put the cutter down.
Get in a habit of using that little button on your cutter that closes and locks it every time you put it down. Before you know it, you will be doing it without even thinking.
Third: I now use a “klutz” glove and have rotary cutter safety shields (see below) on my rulers. These, of course, are optional but I would not work without them. The ruler guard is great because it prevents the blade from hitting you if the cutter happens to skip over the ruler’s edge. Also, the shield is clear so you can still see the ruler markings.
The safety shields only come in a 24″ size so I had my husband cut down an extra one to fit my smaller rulers:
Cutting the Fabric
Moving on to cutting the fabric. Here are what I hope are some helpful tips:
Tip #1: So of course my first tip when cutting is to remember that old adage “measure twice, cut once”. There are times that I have thought I was cutting a 2 1/2″ strip when I really had the ruler lined up for a 2 1/4″ cut … I was in a hurry and didn’t check! Always line up the ruler with the edge of your fabric and double check that your ruler is placed correctly. Also make sure it’s not crooked. I’ve done that too.
Tip #2: To keep the ruler from shifting while you cut, use even pressure with your hand, not too heavy and not too light. Also make sure your hand is in the center of the ruler. Even if your ruler has gripper dots on the underside like my Creative Grid rulers.
Also, “tent” your hand as shown in the photo above with your pinkie on the edge to keep the ruler from moving. If you place your hand flat on the ruler, you may inadvertently push the ruler forward. Tenting your hand makes the pressure your are exerting go down instead of forward. When you are cutting a long strip, you may want to stop briefly and move your hand up the ruler so you can keep the pressure even through the entire cutting of the strip.
If you have trouble applying pressure with your hand alone, there are some handy little tools that help you with that. Here is one such tool called the Little Gripper by The Gypsy Quilter.
Tip #3: Make sure your rotary cutter is straight and hugging the edge of your ruler all the way through the cut you are making. You want your rotary cutter straight like the photo on the left. If you angle it like the photo on the right, the blade of the rotary cutter can wander away from the edge of the ruler and your strip will be cut inaccurately. And, of course, always cut away from your body.
Final Tip: While cutting out a project, it’s a good idea to use the same brand of ruler for all the pieces. Different brands of rulers can have lines of different thickness. Even if they are off by 1/16 of an inch, it could cause a problem when you are piecing.
So, that’s what I have for now for rulers and cutting safety tips. Next week, I’ll cover squaring up the fabric, an important step for cutting out straight strips. Leave me a comment below and I’ll enter you in a drawing for my pattern, Marbles & Jacks:
This should give you a lot of cutting experience! The drawing will be on Monday, July 20th. **We have a winner! Congrats, Lisa Gebel!**
Carrie Mayer says
Yep, I cut my finger once not closing the blade when I was done with it 😕 Would love to win the Marbles and Jacks pattern!
Amy McCabe says
Karen in Ohio says
Really great safety tips! I had not heard of the rotary cutter safety shields and will be adding to my list. Thank you for these valuable tips and tools.
Jenniffer Eberley says
The lips are a great idea especially for the smaller rulers
Sheila E says
I’m a beginning quilter so love seeing these kinds of tips. Thank you
Mary Smith says
Keep the tips coming! We need to be reminded about accuracy and safety. Makes the whole project go smoothly.
Debbie Gruenbacher says
I need to do better at closing my rotary cutter! Thanks for the info
Carlie Holdredge says
Good advice, thank you! I too cut my finger tip through the nail. I need to get some guards.
I dropped my open cutter on my bare foot. Luckily nothing serious, but now I make sure it’s closed. And I may look for one of those guards for my rulers. Protect my fingers, and looks like it may make it easy to pick up small rulers.
Connie Miller says
I have used the safety shield on my
6 x24 ruler and would not be without it!
Eugenia Read says
Once again you have provided us with great tips and advice. Thank you! Thus far, I have been fortunate enough to keep all my fingers. I sure would like to have a safety shield just in case. How about hosting a draw to win one?
That is a good idea! I think one of my future drawings will be for that.
Jenedel Wilcox says
Thanks for the tips. #3 was especially helpful.
June Alton says
Thanks for more wonderful tips!
I’ve had many a close calls when using my rotary cutter. The clear plastic guard is a game changer. Thanks for the good cutting tips.
Karen H says
Thanks for all the tips you share with us !! Love the look of your Marbles and Jack quilt- really nice pattern
Carol B says
I hadn’t heard about the plastic guard for the rulers. That sounds like a great idea. I do have the klutz glove but am always in a hurry and can’t remember where I put it so I don’t use it. I really enjoyed the class I took from you at the Lincoln, Ne quilt guild. I even finished the project and use it for my wall hanging that gets changed out regularly. I would love to win your marbles and jacks pattern. I like the way you write your patterns. Some of the patterns I get from other designers are not as well written as yours.
Kay Nickerson says
Thank you for sharing. I have never seen the guard shields before.
Iantha Pittman says
Your tips are so helpful. When you are a beginner, like me, your cutting basics were great for me!
Kathy B. says
Helpful review and great safety equipment tips. I will likely use a glove from now on!
Ann Roberson says
Thanks for all your wonderful tips. I have the fabric for your Rail Fence Blooms kitted. Love that pattern.
Thanks! Glad you like that pattern.