This post is where you are going to learn proper cutting techniques. It is going to sound like one warning after another. Just, prepare yourself to absorb a lot of safety info. I will say, that this is extremely important. Please read before the next post when we are actually going to cut our fabric.
First you are going to get my BIG BAD WARNING!!! Oh yes. It's lecture time. You are going to be using big girl...or boy tools. You must use them properly. The #1 thing you need to know about your rotary cutter is this: NEVER EVER EVER leave the blade out. Once you have cut your fabric, close the blade. Make this a habit and soon it will just be second nature to you to do so. It's so easy to do, just hit the quick release and BAM! the blade is retracted.
I am not joking when I say that I close my blade every time I lay my rotary cutter down, even if it's just to reposition the fabric and am going to pick it right back up. These are bloody sharp...and I mean it when I say bloody. I have never cut myself so badly as when I kicked a discarded blade in a garbage bag I was taking out. The Mister will attest to the fact that he has never seen me pass out...unless you count after the marathon labor and delivery session I had with My Oldest...and passed out from complete exhaustion.
When I witnessed the gaping gash in my toe...I went pale as a ghost and very nearly fainted. Not good, and that was without me exerting much force against the blade. So, again, even if you have the best intentions and are going to pick it back up...close it. I have quite often been distracted from my cutting and have left mid-project. Even if you don't have little kids running around, you never know if somebody's going to visit and there's that neat looking tool. Okay. I'm going to leave my warning at that...but I mean it...Mom...and everybody else!!
Let's continue on...
1. You need to make your fabric even so you can get a nice straight cut. If you are using a full yard of fabric, you want to line the folded edge up along the top horizontal line or 2nd from top line of your cutting mat. If you are using a smaller piece, like a fat quarter, just make sure to line it up evenly.
2. Make sure that the top lines up across the entire length of the mat.
3. Now you are going to line up your ruler on one of the vertical lines of your cutting mat and cut the jaggedy edge of fabric and make it straight. Make sure the fabric has a bit of overhang over the inch mark that you are on. You want both layers of fabric to be straight after this cut.
Make sure when you are cutting, that your fingers...thumb especially are not hanging over the edge of your ruler. You like your fingers, don't you? Take a second and look every time before you start to cut. I also move my hand up as I cut, applying a nice pressure to ensure that my ruler doesn't slip. If your ruler slips then you are going to have a crooked edge. So: fingers in, cut a bit, move your hand up, tuck fingers in, cut a bit more and repeat as needed.
Always, always cut away from your body. This might sound obvious, but I can't tell you for how long I cut the wrong way; downwards from the top of the fabric towards myself...not good. So, start at the bottom and go upwards, away from yourself.
Now, once you have a straight edge, flip your fabric so that the even edge you just cut is towards the left hand side of your mat. Make sure you have about 8 inches to the left because you need room for your ruler and to maneuver a bit. (Sorry for the change in fabric, I forgot to take this shot using the butterfly fabric.) The reason you have done this flip is because the fabric you are cutting is now securely under the ruler and this helps to keep it from shifting. Less shifting means you are going to cut more accurately. If you cut more accurately that means you can sew more accurately and if you sew more accurately that means your finished piece is going to ROCK!
Start cutting. So, if you need 5" x 5" blocks, what you are going to do is cut the entire length of fabric at 5" wide. Then, you're going to take that too long, folded piece of 5" wide fabric, turn it so that it's laying horizontally on your mat and cut it up into 5" x 5" blocks. As many as you can get. As you can see, I keep the fabric folded and when I make one cut, I am actually cutting two blocks at once. Tricky. If you have a remnant left after this, save it, you never know when you might need it.
Totally done yelling at you. Thanks for sticking with me. If you use proper safety measures when you cut and sew, you should remain whole and healthy at the end of the day and can sew some more.
Come back next time when we are going to actually start cutting the fabric you have chosen. Eeeeeee. I know, exciting!
Thanks for reading!
Other posts in this series:
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Measuring and what kind of fabric to buy
Part 3: How to pick your fabric
Part 5: Time to start cutting and pinning
Part 6: How to Pin Properly
Part 7: Let's Press
Part 8: Leaders and Enders
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