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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > What's the best way to cut the fabric easily and neatly? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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What's the best way to cut the fabric easily and neatly?
cutestcutie

cutestcutie
Beginner
USA
Member since 5/3/08
Posts: 122
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Date: 5/5/08 11:47 AM

Hi! I was wondering what you think is the best way of cutting out fabric pieces after laying the pattern on them. I bought a rotary cutter yesterday made by Fiskar and also a pair of 8" Gingher shears but kept running into the following two problems:

1. My rotary cutter would not always cut through both layers of fabric (I wasn't using a thick fabric). Is this the fault of the cutter or my technique? I didn't do any research before buying the cutter (just grabbed it when I saw it at the store) so I wasn't sure if there are better rotary cutters out there. Also, the mat that came with the cutter was pretty small; I'm assuming that buying a large mat would make cutting much easier.

2. The pattern kept shifting and did not stay on place on top of the fabric. I first tried to use straight pins to keep the pattern on the fabric, but I'm not sure if there is some trick to using them or if the ones I have don't work very well because they are very old. In order to really secure the pattern on top of the fabric I had to push the pins in at an angle less than 90 degrees, more like 60 degrees, but this itself shifted the pattern. It also caused the pattern to crinkle. After failing with the pins I then using "weights" I had lying around: books, cups, etc. but this also did not work too well because the edges of the pattern would still not lay flat. Also because the mat that came with the rotary cutter was so small, I had to keep shifting it under the fabric and pattern, which of course caused further complications.

So, in short, my question is, what is in your experience the best system for cutting the fabric pieces? I'm certainly willing to buy more equipment if necessary. Thank you in advance for your help!

Michelle T

Michelle T
Intermediate
BC CANADA
Member since 8/24/02
Posts: 4407
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In reply to cutestcutie


Date: 5/5/08 11:56 AM

One you need a larger cutting mat. At most you should only have to move it once and preferrably not even that. I have a 24x36 or so mat that is big enough for most projects.

Two pin parallel to the cutting line, within the seam allowances. If you trace your patterns onto a pattern cloth it often will stick quite nicely and no pins will be needed.

I rarely use weights, so I do not have any tips on them.

You will need to press down when using the cutter, I often cut through 2 layers of fleece without any issues.

If you have a straight edge to cut use a ruler and cut against it. It is much easier.

On small tight curves, a small cutter works better for me.

------
Proud parent of a Dwight International School Honour Roll Student

cutestcutie

cutestcutie
Beginner
USA
Member since 5/3/08
Posts: 122
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Date: 5/5/08 12:03 PM

Michelle, Thank you so much for the tips. What kind of mat do you recommend getting - a larger self-healing mat made for rotary cutters or cork board? I am assuming that something that allows pins to stick easily would be best.

Thanks also for the tip about tracing the pattern; next time before cutting the fabric I will definitely trace the pattern onto fusible interface or freezer paper.

Big Dog

Big Dog
Intermediate
MI USA
Member since 1/22/06
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Date: 5/5/08 12:10 PM

I'm a scissors gal, I just don't feel I have as much control with a rotary cutter. I make sure my scissors ar razor sharp at all times, and cut with long smooth strokes as much as you can. Small curved areas will be easier to cut if you cut with the curve on the right(southpaws reverse this) and make shorter but still smooth cutting actions.
Sharp shears are important, dull ones will chew rather than cut the fabric. And use them for nothing but fabric, wipe any lint off the blades as you go along.

------
Formerly sew*itch

EveS
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EveS  Friend of PR
Intermediate
MI USA
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Date: 5/5/08 12:14 PM


i don't retrace my patterns, but I do cut them out neatly before laying them out on fabric. Just my personal preference. Also, I've found that if you apply pressure to the cutter more directly above it than behind it, I get much less buckling and shifting. In other words, hold the cutter rather upright as opposed to "pushing" it from behind. Fiskars are excellent cutters in my experience, so I doubt your cutter is the issue.

As for the mat, you need a self healing mat...definitely not corkboard.

Eve

------
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it - Chinese proverb

cutestcutie

cutestcutie
Beginner
USA
Member since 5/3/08
Posts: 122
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Date: 5/5/08 12:16 PM

Big Dog,
What do you do to keep the pattern from shifting while cutting with the shears? Thank you!

WendyGR
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WendyGR
Advanced Beginner
MI USA
Member since 1/27/08
Posts: 267
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Date: 5/5/08 12:39 PM

You still need to pin the pattern to the fabric, just as if you were going to be cutting it with scissors. I've found that I prefer the rotary cutter for knits, scissors for cotton. not sure why!

------
http://thelocalcook.com

gameCoder

gameCoder
Advanced Beginner
CA USA
Member since 3/22/05
Posts: 115
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Date: 5/5/08 12:46 PM

Here's how I pin to avoid the shifting pattern problem:
Push the pin into the pattern & fabric straight down (but I don't stick mine into the mat, I just hold it there with reasonable pressure). While continuing to push the pin straight down, pull up the pattern and fabric together by pinching (finger underneath the fabric, and thumb on top of the pattern) then rotate the pin flat and secure it. Hope that helps!

Speech girl
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Speech girl  Friend of PR
Intermediate
GA USA
Member since 5/11/03
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In reply to cutestcutie


Date: 5/5/08 12:48 PM

My favorite way of pinning is to pin the "corners" of the pattern to the fabric and have the pins pointing to the corner at around a 45 degree angle from the edges. I find this works much better than pinning parallel to the edge or at a 90 degree angle and I need far fewer pins. I uses scissors myself, but many prefer the rotary cutter. I do use the rotary cutter for bias strips and rectangular pieces where I can use a straight edge to guide the cutter.

------
Kim
formerly mikkim
http://girlwithatimemachine.wordpress.com/

bunz
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bunz
Intermediate
VA USA
Member since 8/24/02
Posts: 2728
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Date: 5/5/08 12:50 PM

You just need practice w your r. cutter - they're terrific. I use tuna cans as weights (small and easy to move). Sometimes, I pin just the grainline (once I've established it, I dont' want to do it again:-)

And yes, a small rotary cutter is great for small curves. And you need the really big mat. Get it w a Joanns 40% coupon.

Nina

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