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    Cutting strips from yardage

    I am a new quilter and am planning to make a Summer in the Park using a Kaffe Fassett jelly roll and Kona Snow yardage (in order to cut costs). Cutting fabric is my least favorite part of quilting so I'm hoping you all can help me out. Since I can't wash the jelly roll, I'm not planning to wash my yardage, either. The fabric is fairly wrinkled, even though it came to me folded, and it's difficult to iron it out flat. Should I cut the yardage into segments before cutting it into strips? I have a very difficult time trying to square up fabric that's nearly as long as my wingspan. In addition, I've heard that after cutting a few strips, I should straighten out the edge of the yardage again. Do I need to make sure it's straight of grain again too, or just cut the edge straight?

    Finally, I can only cut fabric for a few minutes before it starts hurting my wrist. I'm thinking maybe the table is the wrong height and my blade needs replacing. My rotary cutter almost always leaves spots uncut, even though I press down really hard. I'm using the Olfa ergonomic rotary cutter and I've only had it for about 6 weeks. It's also difficult to hold the ruler (6x24) in place when I make the cut. I currently only fold the fabric in half since the rotary cutter has difficulty with just 2 layers, but I've read that it should be able to cut through 4 layers. It would be much easier to make an 11 in cut as opposed to 22 inches since I wouldn't have to reach so far in front of me.

    Any other advice that will motivate me to stick with the yardage and not just order a jelly roll after all? Many many thanks!

    #2
    Re: Cutting strips from yardage

    Replace the blade for sure.. but I bought my Sis the 60mm cutter and she finds it a lot better on her hands and wrists..
    "Each day well-lived and Happy;
    that's all there is to Life!"

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      #3
      Re: Cutting strips from yardage

      Welcome to the forum. It sounds like it is time for a new blade in your rotary cutter. It should not be leaving spots uncut. Also you should not have to press down so hard with your rotary cutter that it is hurting your wrist. The cheapest place to get a replacement rotary cutter blade is at Harbor Freight, the blades should be with the carpet cutting knives.

      Yes you should be resquaring your fabric after ever few cuts (approx the width of your ruler). You just need to straighten your edge perpendicular to your fold line. It does not have to be straight of grain, although it would be nice if it was close.

      Bed risers or pieces of PVC pipe under the table legs can your table to a more comfortable cutting height.

      You can do this.
      Stash Treasure Acquisitions Beyond Life Expectancy. My stash keeps me STABLE, oh yeah.... and dark chocolate.

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        #4
        Re: Cutting strips from yardage

        Definitely change your blade. If you are applying smooth pressure as you cut there should be no uncut bits. With the yardage, it's often wrinkled and on the bolt crooked. You can cut your yardage into 1 yard pieces to make it easier to handle. I use starch to press yardage, but you can simply spritz it with water generously to dampen and then press out the wrinkles if you prefer. The cutting will go easier and more accurately. Be sure to match the selvedge edges and then adjust by sliding the edges until the piece of fabric hangs straight and there are no ripples at the fold. Then lay it on your mat and line up the fold on a line. You can bring the selvedge edge up and keep it lined up to cut. Definitely recheck and cut off the little slice that somehow gets off after 2 cuts or so. If you keep the fold of the fabric at the mat line you can also use your ruler lines against mat lines to keep things as square as possible. It's possible some of your difficulty is that your table is the wrong height. Hope this helps.

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          #5
          Re: Cutting strips from yardage

          With a sharp blade, you can cut through 6, maybe 8 layers of cloth. But I usually just go with 4, when cutting strips. If your blade is dull, you are possibly straining your wrist.

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            #6
            Re: Cutting strips from yardage

            I think the consensus is that you need a new blade! Even though your blade isn't that old, it is possible that it was nicked, and therefore not cutting smoothly. Also, if you are using a 24" ruler for your cutting, use the 'spider' technique to hold down the ruler. Starting at the bottom, you hold down the ruler with fingers spread - like the legs of a spider. Cut just a part of the fabric, and then 'creep' up the ruler with your spider fingers, cut some more, and you will probably have to creep one more time to finish cutting, particular if you are only folding the fabric in half instead of two folds.

            There are also items that you can buy to attach to the back of your ruler that cause the ruler to grip the fabric. I've seen this advertised in sheet form and also as dots. I am sorry, I don't have a product name. HTH
            If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.- Zig Ziglar

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              #7
              Re: Cutting strips from yardage

              I have the Olfa 45 mm ergonomic rotary cutter. I bought my rotary blades from Amazon in a pkg. of 10; they're cheaper that way. The pkg. comes with Japanese labels! You definitely need to replace the blade on your rotary cutter. It helps also to hold the cutter vertically, not at an angle. You should not need to be using so much pressure when cutting.

              There are videos on YouTube on how to accurately cut fabric. I always press my fabric before cutting. Match up the selvedge edges. I use a little bit of Best Press spray on the wrinkles. I cut width of fabric, starting from the fold. Yes, make sure the edges are even at least every 2-3 cuts. If you're having trouble with the ruler slipping, I'm wondering if you don't have the Creative Grids brand of rulers. They don't slip as much as other brands.

              Also, if you are a beginning quilter, there are other patterns that will be easier for you to manage than Summer in the Park. I would suggest something more simple. Maybe a 9-patch, a Disappearing 9-patch, or a Rail Fence.

              Shorter segments of fabric are easier to cut than wide yardage. Start with a yard, or even half a yard.

              A suggestion if you do pursue the S in the P pattern, or even the Rail Fence. When sewing your strips, don't try to sew the full 42" length of the JR. The strips are easier to manage if they're cut in half. I learned it's important to be consistent with a scant 1/4" seam, so the width of the 3 strips comes out at 6.5" For more accurate results, be sure to square each block as you go along.

              Good luck on your new quilting journey. Jump in with questions any time.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                I recently got the MSQC 5" x 15" ruler and I find it much easier for cutting strips than using my 6 x 24" ruler. I fold my fabric so that the lengthwise fold is next to the selvedge so I'm cutting 4 layers, so that ruler is wide enough. It has really made it much easier for me to cut strips. And I agree with changing the blade. Make sure you are using even pressure as you cut across the strip. You should be able to cut by pressing firmly but not have to press hard if you have a good, sharp blade.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                  Here's a link to a post about power cutting. It's an interesting technique and worth the time to watch. http://forum.missouriquiltco.com/loo...ips-wrong.html

                  I've found that if Ihave 1 or 2 layers, my cutter doesn't cut as well. I usually do 4 - 6 layers. I have a tall cutting table, just above my waist and it seems to be easier on my back.

                  Best Press helps with the "bolt wrinkles".
                  One yard of fabric, like one cookie, is never enough!

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                    #10
                    Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                    Well, I've learned a lot by reading all these posts. I hope you have as well.
                    Walk in peace with the Lord by your side.
                    Terry

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                      Also something to consider down the road if you are planning on cutting lots of strips, there are rulers that can help make it a breeze. One of the example is Amazon.com : June Tailor 20-Inch-by-23-Inch Shape Cut Pro Ruler : Quilting Rulers : Office Products
                      Another one is http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Grids...ripology+ruler

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                        Wow! Lots of great info here.

                        1) Yes, new blade.

                        2) Maybe a new mat? Or, turn the mat (so what was on the left is now on the right OR turn it over to use the other side if it's a 2-sided mat) ... it may be worn in the same spot you usually use to cut -- this could be making it slightly harder for you to cut fabric.

                        3) I wouldn't necessarily cut your yardage down to 1 yard segments before cutting; here's why: a one yard segment is 36 x approx. 42. If you are cutting 12" blocks, great ... you will get 3 blocks from each row of that fabric (if cutting perpendicular to the selvage = "cross wise grain"), but also only 3 blocks from each row if cutting parallel to the selvage ("length wise grain") with 6" left over. Wouldn't it be nice to have another 6" in that piece of fabric to make FOUR FULL 12" blocks?

                        So, if cutting perpendicular to the selvage and you need 12" blocks, cut your fabric down to a 48" segment to get full 12" blocks out of it; otherwise you will end up with several 6" fabric strips from each of your 36" segments after cutting.

                        Decide how many FULL blocks you need from a fabric segment, then cut your fabric down to a bit over that amount of fabric (to allow for trimming, etc.)

                        4) Check out that video link posted above by another member on POWER CUTTING! It's also in my User Notes on my profile page with other helpful info.

                        5) Decide on whether you are going to cut WITH the grain or CROSS grain. Check out the video by Marti Michell in my User Notes re: why she cuts (usually) with the length wise grain.

                        6) Some people purchase their blades from Harbor Freight (carpet blades), but there was a post here within the past year or so where several members found them to 1) not last as long and 2) not be as delicate on quilting fabric. I, like a member's post above, have purchased from Amazon (pkg. of 10), but usually try to stock up when JoAnn's has a 60% off coupon!

                        7) Many people use Martelli rotary cutters and blades.

                        Happy quilting!
                        Blessings, DramaMama


                        "May your bobbin always be full!"

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                          #13
                          Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                          Very good suggestions here.

                          I find that the best height for my cutting table is bellybutton height. If it's lower, my back starts to hurt and if it's higher I have trouble seeing the ruler at the far end. If you stick with quilting and want to cut most of your strips yourself, invest in a Stripology ruler. They cost about $50 but they are so worth every cent. You can cut piles of perfect strips in minutes.

                          I also have trouble with a 24" ruler and I much prefer a shorter ruler. The 24" is good for cutting and trimming borders.
                          sigpicwww.whisperofrose.blogspot.com


                          Scottie Mom Barb

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                            #14
                            Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                            Very good suggestions here. I would definitely check your mat, in addition to the blades. I worked at a quilt show last year cutting fabric, and was given a mat to cut on which was not a self healing mat. (It was not smooth and kind of bumpy.) After one cut with a brand new blade, the blade seemed terrible. Well, the next day, I brought my own mat with me, and wow what a difference. Good luck, hopefully one or more of these suggestions will work for you.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: Cutting strips from yardage

                              Many many thanks to all of you for the help! I went and bought a new blade yesterday but I haven't gotten to try it out yet (I've been trying to take care of actual responsibilities ha ha). I may try out a 60 mm rotary cutter down the road but I can't afford it at the moment. When I first got this one, I used it to cut some fleece and also nicked my ruler a few times, and I'm sure both of those things dulled it. I don't tend to cut in the same spot (or even on the same side) of my mat and I haven't noticed any grooves. I've spent maybe an hour or two total cutting fabric on it, which I would think would be way too early for grooves. It's an Alvin mat by the way, which I purchased because they get rave reviews, but I have a difficult time seeing the edges of the fabric no matter if I use the black side or the green side. A different cutting mat is on my to-purchase list someday down the road.

                              I loved the power cutting video! Her method for maintaining the integrity of the straight edge is fabulous. I will definitely be adopting that technique. I am also going to try folding my fabric a second time before cutting. With the new blade, I should be able to cut through 4 layers, and that really would make maintaining adequate pressure on the ruler and fabric much easier. I'm straining to reach at the end of 22 inches.

                              I've tried cutting on tables of a couple different heights and it hasn't really worked. When I cut on the lower table, I end up putting all my weight on my wrists to try to keep the ruler in place and to cut through the fabric. I lean completely over the table to put all my weight into it. From what you all have said, it doesn't seem like I should need that much pressure! I think the pain when I was using the higher table was because it was hard to reach that far out in front of me without being able to lean over the table. Fingers crossed a new blade/shorter cut length will make my wrists happy.

                              Again, thank you all!

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