Friday, 31 July 2015

The Joys of a Rotary Cutter

You know what it's like when you discover a tool and wonder how you ever managed without it? I know I'm late to the party but I've only just discovered the joys of using a rotary cutter. Don't ask me why, I guess I just figured that a pair of scissors has sufficed for the last fifty years, not unlike those who thought a hurricane lamp would do when everyone else was installing electric light! With the fervour of a true convert, I'm singing the praises of rotary cutters to all and sundry.

What's so good about the rotary cutter you ask? “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” Well, first is accuracy, second is speed, third is fun! I can't stop cutting things! Like these strips of leftover interlock for garden ties.

The first pattern I cut out was yet another pair of harem pants for the munchkin (this makes six pairs now). The previous ones were cut out with the scissors after pinning the pattern to the interlock. This time I laid the pattern on the fabric, weighted it down with some little cans of tuna (in springwater) and zipped (carefully) around it with the rotary cutter.

It gave a very accurate edge, the only down side being the possibility of cutting a whisker off the pattern itself which would, over time, alter the pattern outline. Maybe tracing around the pattern with a tracing wheel or a marker and removing the pattern before cutting would solve the problem.

I can see this tool being the solution to the difficulty of cutting out really slippery fabrics like the one mentioned here which distorted as the scissors lifted it to cut giving dips and bulges in the cut edges.

Using a rotary cutter requires a suitable cutting surface as the blade is extremely sharp and pressure is applied in the cutting process. I guess you could use a piece of particle-board but you would eventually get grooves in it. 

The ideal base is a self-healing craft board that doesn't scar when cut. They come in many sizes and are not cheap but worth the investment (a good Christmas wish list addition). Mine is just a small 30 cm x 45 cm which I use when making greeting cards. I managed with it for the little harem pants by moving the fabric, but a larger board is going on my wish list.

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