It’s very important, whether this is your first quilt or you’re a seasoned quilter, to follow a few safety guidelines. Using high quality, ergonomic equipment will not only improve your chances of accurate cuts but also will reduce strain on your body and minimize slips that could destroy your fabric or harm yourself. Use a rotary cutter with a corresponding mat and ruler. You’ll find using scissors to cut a quilt to be inaccurate, frustrating and time consuming. There are many great rotary cutters on the market. A simple Google search will show you there are endless brands from which to choose.
You have your rotary cutter of choice but now you must be sure of the following:
Tips for Safe, Accurate Fabric Cutting.
1. Hold your rotary cutter only as the manufacturer suggests. Generally, this means holding the handle so your index finger or thumb rests on the ridged area leading up to the blade.
2. Always cut away from your body, on a flat surface, while you are standing up. It is important to put adequate weight on your ruler so it will not slip during cutting. Along this topic, do not hold a ruler with your left hand and ‘cross-over’ your body to cut on the left side of that ruler. It’s best to leave the acrobatics to the professional circus performers.
3. Square your fabric to ensure you have a 90-degree angle at the horizontal and vertical edges. Utilize the fold in the fabric, as my horizontal compass, rather than ironing it away to use the salvage. You’ll have to use your best judgment if there is a particularly poor fold in your fabric, if there is a challenging horizontal pattern, or if you’ve chosen to pre-wash your fabric. You should now have just a quick cut to remove some excess material before you begin cutting strips.
4. Square again! After a few cuts, stop and check that your material is still square. Fabric and rulers can slip during the cutting process.
5. Safe storage is important. When you are finished cutting, ensure the safety shield is in place over the blade of your rotary cutter and store your equipment where young hands will not reach.
Don’t worry all you experienced quilters out there; it’s never too later to start implementing some better practices in your cutting routine. Remember, no matter how long you’ve been using a rotary cutter; be aware of your hands at all times and be safe.