I have been sewing for a while (self-taught) and I am getting to the point where scissors are just not doing it for me. A rotary cutter seems like the next step for straight lines, but I don't know what to get. I would also like to try a little quilting as soon as I get a walking foot.
It seems like you need the actual cutter, a cutting mat (?) and a ruler of some sort (and replacement blades?).
The 'local' store is Joanns, they seem to have Omnigrid, Fiskars, and Olfa, as well as the house brand. Any recommendations or tips?
I just started quilting in the last year. Just completed my very first quilt the other day and am finishing my second today! whoo hoo!
My friend who got me started suggested I get a Fiskars rotary cutter, the larger one, 40mm iirc, and it worked fine at first but quickly developed a nick in the blade as I was clumsy and bouncing off my ruler. This became an infuriating gap it would leave as I cut fabrics and I was getting pulls and runs.
I then moved to an Olfa and it was miles better. Then I received a great 50% off coupon from Joanns and went to buy blades, but Joanns coupons are tricky as they only apply to non sale items, but 95% of the store is on sale most of the time . Desperate to use my coupon I went seeking ANYTHING that wasn't on sale and found a Ginger rotary cutter. I bought that and omg I love it. Haven't touched anything else in months.
You must use a rotary cutting mat, get the biggest you can as the larger your work surface the better. I bought the Fiskars one and have been thrilled with it. Word of caution, do not put anything hot on it, even a cup of tea. It warps dramatically with even a little heat. Fiskars is a fantastic company to work with, when my warped on the second day I owned it (I sat my tea on it) I called them and they replaced it free of charge. I wish I liked their rotary cutters as I like the company in general.
You need a ruler and a square, Omnigrid is a great one, very easy to read the numbers and marks. As you do more you will keep adding to your collection, but I find I use my 6x24 ruler and 12.5 square 90% of the time.
Find some youtube videos or have someone at the store show you how to actually measure off of your rulers. I made the bad mistake on my first project of using my cutting mat to measure and cut. A friend showed me how to use the ruler to measure and cut and its a lot faster and a lot more accurate. Also have someone show you how to use your square to actually square things (using the diagonal lines, etc), really helps for squaring blocks so seams line up, etc.
Oh and make sure to check the Joanns website before going shopping and printing out any coupons. There is almost always a coupon or two that can be used. And if you decide you like it, sign up for a membership with the American Quilters Guild or a local quilt guild, Joanns gives an extra 10% off your entire purchase for guild members.
I agree 100% with everything Buck said! Never buy anything at Joann's without a coupon. You can print them online or there is a smartphone app.
I just started making quilts in the last two years. I finished one for our king size bed last spring, and I've decided it isn't warm enough for winter so I'm going to make another one out of flannel. I also have several cute horse and farm related patterns that I can share the source with you. I have pictures on FB if you want to see them. I'm almost done with a quilt made entirely out of old Wranglers and pearl snap shirts for a friend's teenage son (the previous owner of said jeans and shirts).
Good luck! It's fun and incredibly frustrating (for me at least!)!
I've been a quilter for 20+ years. Olfa makes a really nice cutter. if you are starting to experience arthritis...you might try martelli's rotary cutter (http://www.martellinotions.com/). also to begin piecing a quilt..you don't need a walking foot, just the ability to stitch a quarter inch seam. the walking foot you use for straight line machine quilting....
shop around, you'll find them cheaper than that, it's just the first link w/photo that I found. the reason I prefer this one is that once you get going, there are times when you will cut threw multiple layers of fabric, and this one can easily (with a new blade) cut threw 8 layers of flannel!
get a GOOD cutting mat. stick with Fiskars or Olfa. they are more expensive, but they also last much longer than the cheaper ones.
rulers:: my favorite is the Quilter's Rule line. they have lines that are "nubbed" for lack of a better term, and they will not shift as much as the "flatter" rulers. again, as you go forward (if you really have the bug) you will want something that will not shift when you want to cut multiple layers. One of my specialty patterns is the Stack n Whack by Bethany Reynolds, and you routinely cut 8 layers at one time.
feel free to contact me any time for any help or hints that you need!!
ps, if you are planning to do more than straight line quilting, you'll want a free motion foot, your walking foot WILL NOT let you do anything but straight lines, unless you want to stitch, pivot, stitch, pivot, all day long !! :-)
one more thing-- if any of you "newbies" are having trouble, I taught for many years, so if you want to call me, I would be happy to PM you my #, and I might be able to walk you thru if you get stuck....
I like my Fiscars rotary cutter, with the 45M blades. They are easy to change if they dull from cutting heavy material (jeans, sweatshirts), though they do stay sharp for a long time. I got the one that is hand-held, easiest to hold and direct along a line or around a pattern, for me.
Blades do get dull, may pick up a nick, so CHANGE THEM instead of getting angry the cutter is "not doing it's job well" and frustrated with the poor results in cut pieces! I am rather fanatic about having sharp tools, whether it is my scissors, clippers for the animals or the rotary cutter. Dull makes a tool hard to use. Buying blades for this cutter is cheaper in packages, using my 50% off coupon. I see they offer a sharpening kit for these rotary blades, haven't used it, but might be a money saver if it worked well.
I do have an Olfa, in a small diameter, but don't use it much. It has a stick handle, not as comfortable to hold and press to cut material. I just like Fiscar products, so stuck with it in scissors and the rotary cutters. I have several, all the same design I like best.
I got the full size mat, when it was cheaper than it is now. Very nice for large fabric layouts, long runs of cutting strips of fabric. Has one inch squares all over the surface, easy to align edges and measure lengths using it.
I am not a quilter, but do use these tools often. My mom is the quilting Wizard, has made many of various designs. She only sews the design pieces together for the top with a machine, then does hand quilting to layer it together on them. Way too much work for me! She is amazing!
i use fiskars and never had any trouble with them other than getting dull after many uses.....like them just fine. For doing professional stufff you may want to go with nicer/more expensive, but for my needs they worked out just fine.
Blades do get dull, may pick up a nick, so CHANGE THEM instead of getting angry the cutter is "not doing it's job well" and frustrated with the poor results in cut pieces!
I did change the blades, they repeatedly got nicked and dulled quickly. I was learning of course and making mistakes, but found it frustrating. I knew well enough that quilting was going to be frustrating enough all on its own so I decided to get tools that didn't make me want to curse .
What I also didn't like the the Fiskars was very light and would tend to be wobbly if I put the pressure needed to cut through a few layers. Of course I was learning and not so deft, but I found the heavier and sturdier Olfa and Gingher just worked more smoothly for me. I've been cutting with my Gingher now for a half year and it cuts 6 layers like butter just as nicely as the day I took it out of the package. Its extremely heavy, solid and ergonomic so I thinks thats what I like, not just the blade sharpness. I just bought replacement blades for it, but I have no idea when I'll be needing them.
(I am like you Goodhors, I like everything frighteningly sharp and I enjoy sharpening my knives, I find it therapeutic)
Goodhors, or OP, if you would like my Fiskars cutters you may HAVE them pm me. I tried really hard to like them, I LOVE the Fiskars company in general, love their scissors and gardening tools. I even bought the Titanium cutters. Nope, sadly not for me.
Honestly, in comparison to Gingher I don't even like Olfa that much either, not ergonomic. But if it wasn't for Joann's 50% off coupon I never would have dared try such a snazzy cutter.
(Stupid, tempting 50% off Joann coupons I came home with a sock loom yesterday Dang thing is tough! I thought I'd have a pair of socks knit by supper. No! Rolling in socks I will *not* be ).
OP as someone else said, you don't need a walking foot for piecing the quilt, the walking foot is used for doing the actual quilting, but there are many roads to Rome.
I did end up getting a nice brother machine after I determined I indeed like quilting (I've never sewn anything before starting quilting and I'm self taught too), and I have been learning to actually quilt my tops and get them done, though I'm going to be learning how to use a long arm soon and the striped quilt will be my first project there.
If anyone can recommend a good source for GOOD inexpensive fabrics, PLEASE share. Connecting Threads is the best I've found. I'm seeking a particular fabric for a Civil War style bed runner right now.
Just curious Buck, were you nicking blades on the pins? I couldn't think of any other thing you could nick them on, using mats. I did have to relearn how to place my pins for pattern cutting, so I didn't run over them with the rotary blades. Old days training for scissor cutting, before they had rotary cutters. Going slower cutting with scissors, just sliding under pins didn't teach me that I would have pin issues with the FASTER rotary cutters. Way too much trouble to lift fabric and work around pins over the edges of the pattern with the rotary cutter.
I run into a LOT of people who are being cheap, not changing rotary blades, CLIPPER blades, using scissors with a snag or dull spots, instead of fixing the problem. Then loudly blaming the Brand Name for a poor product, instead of their own "frugality" in having tools that don't work right.
Same thing with blaming sewing machines "not sewing" or "I can't sew with a machine" in efforts to create or fix things. Asking simple questions about last time they oiled it, last time it got serviced at the Sewing Machine Repair shop, and they give you a blank stare! "I don't have oil, or lost the manual, don't know where it needs to be oiled!" And MY favorite, "Well I bought it NEW 10 years ago. Hardly have used it, so WHY would I need it serviced?" MAYBE it needs servicing because of DUST accumulation? Sewing machines are complex machines made to work with extremely close tolerances in the moving parts. No oil, dust buildup, WILL make the machine wonky!! Even if it hasn't sewn 100ft since you bought it. Mine go in every five years, used and oiled every time I sit down with them. Purchasing used machine, it goes in "just because" and comes home ready to use. One needed a new motor from dust build-up on old, dried oil which burned it out, another needed a new motor because it had "been sewed to death" according to the repair man. But even then, they are GREAT machines, and the price to purchase, $20-25 made them well worth repairing for about $100. Same machines to purchase from a shop, even old as they are, are over $400. Got a LOVELY Serger from Craigslist, cleaned, sews 3 stitches, for under $150. They ARE kind of like sheep, each does it's own specialties, so all 4 are worth having. Maybe this is inherited, my mom ALSO has 3-4 machines and Gramma had 2-3 so each of her girls could use them for THEIR projects, no waiting!
@buck22--- where are you located??? the best place to find QUALITY fabrics, is in PA.
there are tons of mennonite owned shops there, they have all the quilt shop quality fabric lines, at a much less expensive cost!
and the best of them all, IMO, is Obie's! looks like a bait and tack shop on the outside, but inside, OMG literally floor to ceiling fabrics. NOT the place for the claustrophobic, but a quilter's paradise! They are in Goodville, and if you google them, you can get their contact info. Last I knew (too lazy to look right now) they did not have a website, but if you sent fabric swatches, they will look thru their piles and let you know what they have.
also, Lancaster, PA has a huge quilt show every spring, and all of the shops have sales. some other favs are Sauder's Fabrics, Weaver's, Petersheim's Quilts, and Cedar Lane Dry Goods. <<< has the best price on rotary blades and needles ! and they have tons of tops that just need quilting, at really reasonable prices.
if you are looking for a particular line of fabs that is older, you can list on Missingfabrics.com, and the folks there will all look thru their stashes for you.
I'm a quilter too - fourth generation of women in my family to take it up. I totally agree with getting your machine serviced regularly. Mine goes in once a year - it makes such a huge difference! Plus, regular maintenance can ward off really big problems.
I am lucky in that I have a fabric store in my mom's house - when my grandma died, my mom got all of her fabric, and most of it was vintage from the 40's and 50's. I made a quilt not long ago that was just vintage fabric from my grandma. If I buy fabric, I really like fabricworm.com. Not cheap, but fun to browse and they have good sales.
We had a snow day yesterday, so I got a bunch of blocks made for a new quilt I am working on. The last four I've done I've had machine quilted, so I am looking forward to having something in my quilt frame again to work on. While I love the intricacy that machine quilting brings to the art, to me there is nothing like a good hand-quilted piece. I appreciate machine quilting, but to me, it is not really "quilting", it's sewing. I find great pleasure in the solitude and contemplativeness of hand quilting.
My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
Just curious Buck, were you nicking blades on the pins? I couldn't think of any other thing you could nick them on, using mats.
No, in fact my first two quilt tops I didn't even pin at all! Didn't own any pins and wasn't wise enough to know to need them! lol! The long strip one I held in my teeth as I stitched
The problem I had is I started out trying to take long straight cuts with several layers but I didn't have the experience yet, so I'd wobble a bit and catch the edge of the plastic ruler with the blade. Just dinging the plastic ruler a few times was all that was needed to put a little soft spot in the blade edge. Halfway through a project I'd start getting uncut gaps, I'd get frustrated, press harder, wobble more... and then the cussing would begin
I knew it was my fault, but I found the light plastic design of the Fiskars contributed. Also the blade is a tad loose in it housing and has just enough side to side play that I can feel it pulling me off course - which then I get mad and press harder and really go off course.
As I said I *really* wanted to like Fiskars. I bought two other models, changed to fresh blades frequently, but I kept running into the same problem. I stopped at a nice quilt store one afternoon, mentioned my problem and the owner showed me how to cut long lengths more conservatively (I was attempting long sweeping cuts at the time far above my skill level) AND suggested I try an Olfa. Of course she was making a sale for her store, but I like to patronize local businesses and was grateful for the cutting lesson so purchased the cutter. The difference was night and day for me. The Olfa blade is in tight, runs smoothly and I immediately noticed the added heft steadied my hand and I didn't need to press so hard, so I cut smoother. Only thing I did *not* like was the stick design however, awkward to hold.
As I said, I bought the Gingher on a lark and am so happy I did, I'm just smitten with it.
Great advice on machine maintenance!! My Brother is less than a year old but I will be sending for service soon, as my quilting time for the year is coming to an end.
@buck22--- where are you located??? the best place to find QUALITY fabrics, is in PA.
I am not too far from Lancaster Haven't been there yet and to all the fabric shops, but a quilting guild I belong to is organizing a trip out in a few months so I'm collecting patterns and saving my pennies, as the ladies inform me we literally shop till we drop
Thank you so much for the reminder of MissingFabrics!! I was wracking my brain the other day trying to remember, I do have only one yard of a fabric that is discontinued and I would LOVE to have some more for a project. Thank you!
I only get to focus on quilting 4 months out of the year though, 2 months in the winter and 2 the summer. Next month I must get back into fly tying and the time not spent with the horses, gardening (and oh yeah, work!) will be spent on the water catching trout, so I only have 2 more weeks to get the projects I have at hand done.
I must admit though, since I fish all most all of PA, I am making a list of shops to drop by should a trout stream meander close.
I do hope to get a modest project done however and get a hoop so the few moments of downtime I have I can try my hand at hand quilting.
One of the ladies in my guild hand PIECED and quilted a gorgeous queen sized one. Took her over a year. Its utterly gorgeous though.
I too have a hard time finding good quality fabric that isn't $12 a yard. I love my local quilt store, but I can't justify how expensive their fabric is when I can get it cheaper online. I buy a lot of fabric from Fabric.com. Lately they've been out of stock on everything that I want so I've been a little unimpressed.
here's a couple of links to some of the shops in PA, many of them are mennonite owned, ,and altho they have a "website", none of their fabrics are actually on them. :-( the last link is to the list I got them from, you could check out some of the others....