When I first began sewing, I was very interested in making some simple patchwork quilts for babies (this way I could keep them small, hadn’t built up the confidence yet, or indeed the patience, to attempt any larger projects). After struggling to cut the most basic shapes and get them to be all exactly same size and cut straight, I consulted my craft books for a solution and discovered that quilters use rotary cutters, cutting mats and transparent rulers. Bingo!
I knew it was important to cut shapes accurately for patchwork otherwise, when you go to stitch the pieces together, it’s really hard to get them matching up properly. So I bought myself a small A4 size cutting mat, rotary cutter and a quilter’s ruler.
The use of the ruler is fantastic as it combines a few functions which make cutting fabric pieces an absolute breeze. The rulers are transparent, so that you can see the fabric and see exactly where you are going to cut. There are measurements (either cm or inches) along all sides, with grids of straight lines across the whole ruler, making cutting the right sizes so simple. Using the guidelines, you get perfect squares and rectangles. No more measuring and marking up before cutting and no more wonky shapes. The ruler works in conjunction with the rotary cutter, in that you place the blade of the cutter against the side of the ruler and, pushing the cutter away from yourself, you guide the blade along the ruler’s edge.
I progressed from my quilt making to handbags, purses and accessories over the years. At first I though that I wouldn’t use the rotary cutter and ruler that much, but actually they are just as essential now as was for quilt making. I used my small mat and ruler for a while, but soon found that I needed to change up to a bigger size to accommodate the larger pieces I need to cut for my bag making.
I’ve now bought a larger A3 size cutting mat and a bigger ruler (this time a non-slip one, so much safer and easier to get accurate cuts) which also came with a new rotary cutter, bargain!!. I am so pleased with them. I find these three tools are essential for cutting accuracy and invaluable for saving so much time, as it’s quick to cut the pieces and you can cut through more than one layer of fabric at a time.
The rotary cutters are great and come in a range of sizes. The most common being a 45mm blade, which I use all the time. I will probably also get one with a small blade soon as I think these are good for doing more intricate shapes and maybe around curves. You can also get the clear quilter’s rulers in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. I get my cutting tools from Creative Grids, have a look they have such a huge range of rulers, mats and cutting tools.
As for the cutting mats, these are essential when using a rotary cutter. They are self healing and also have measurements and cutting guidelines on them. Coupled with the ruler, it’s just so easy to get everything cut to exact shape and size that you want. Both the rulers and the cutting mats also have cutting guidelines for angles, offering you even more shape choices that you can cut accurately.
Altogether, I find these three tools an absolute must for my sewing projects and the best craft tools I’ve ever invested in. I’m sure if you haven’t tried them yet, you will not regret buying them.