Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tools of the Trade - Cutting Tools

When I told my friend Noemi that I started a blog and was working on some sewing projects she asked me if I would write a few posts about the tools I use. I really don't have any idea what I'm talking about but I thought it could be interesting to take a look at some of the options out there. I will be talking mainly about the tools I use personally, but I'll throw in a little bit from some sources who actually know what they're talking about, too.  ;-)

I'll start with the cutting tools since that's the starting point of any sewing project...once you've picked the pattern and fabric, of course.

There are so many options out there for cutting tools - scissors, rulers, cutting mats, rotary cutters...The list of supplies is endless!!!  This quilting site has a quick overview of some of the basic tools you will need for cutting fabric.

Cutting Mat
Let's start with the cutting mat.  I have a big 18" x 24" mat for cutting out my fabric and a small 6" x 8" mat for trimming edges and small things at the sewing machine.

They all seem to have different measurement markings but they serve the same purpose.

Rotary Cutter
Rotary cutters come in many sizes.  The most common sizes are 28 mm, 45 mm and 60 mm.

My favorite is the one is the 45 mm Olfa on the left.  It's the perfect size for cutting out fabric and it's a comfortable shape.  It's reversible, too!  This is important for me because I'm a lefty!  The Fiskars is for the left or right hand, too, and it's a little easier because you don't have to worry about switching the blade for either hand. 

We bought the 18 mm by mistake.  We bought it for a curvy ruler but we needed to buy the 28 mm.  Oh well.  Now we have a tiny one if we ever need it.  For what?  I have  no idea!

The Purl Bee has a great tutorial on how to use a rotary cutter for a beginner who doesn't really know how to start.

Here is a short video on how to use a rotary cutter for all of you out there who are visual learners like me.

Sometimes a rotary cutter isn't really the appropriate tool to use and you have to use your trusty old scissors.  Well, there's a ton of those, too!!!

These are my scissors.  The green pair is a cheap pair I bought at the grocery store for cutting out paper and patterns.  The large Gingher scissors are called dressmaker shears and they are only used for cutting fabric.  If you use them to cut paper it will dull the blades quickly.  The smaller embroidery scissors are used for small things like trimming threads.

I can't believe how many different rulers there are!!!  They come in every shape and size you can imagine.  And it seems that every project I do requires a special ruler.

And now, boys and girls, it's time to learn our shapes...




I don't know what this shape is.  I just call it evil!

These are some helpful tools that make cutting fabric a little easier.

This handle and these little sandpaper dots help to keep the ruler from moving while you are cutting with the rotary cutter.

These vinyl strips are reusable and can be used a couple of different ways.  You can put them on your ruler on the line you are measuring and bump your fabric up against it.  Then just cut it with the rotary cutter.  It gives you a little added security that your fabric won't move while you're cutting it.  You can also use them on your sewing machine to mark your seam (like a scant 1/4"...if you can ever figure out what that means.). 

If you are interested in sewing (quilting in particular) I highly recommend buying the book Complete Guide to Quilting (Bettter Homes and Gardens).  I think it is a great book for beginners.  It gives an overview of everything from choosing supplies and fabric to actually completing the project.  It has been extremely helpful when I have had questions while working on projects.  I think this is the second time I have mentioned this book.  This should give you an idea of how good I think it is. 

So, this is what I have so far.  If you have any other tips or tools that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to list them in the comments.  Helpful hints are always welcome here!  :-)


Velma said...

thanks Marci!!!!! This was really helpful!!!!

Poor evil ruler has no real name!!!

Christine (MiniMak) said...

All of these tools are great! I need to get a rotary cutter but I am waiting until I actually make a quilt! I also have Gingher scissors and they are amazing! NO paper cutting allowed with those ones!! :)

Great post!

AJ said...

Wow, what a great list! Thanks for the tips :)
I got a pair of Gingher shears last year, and I LOVE them. Of course, I had been using my grandmother's old scissors >_<

Oh, what about pinking shears? I need to get some, because again I'm using my grandmother's, and they are dulllllll. When I get some new ones, I'm sure they'll be very helpful :)

marci said...

Pinking shears! I don't own them but I probably should. :) What do you use them for? I'll have to look into it. Thanks so much for the suggestion.