|Tips for using Rotary Cutters|
Rotary cutters are a must have tool for home sewing and for fashion students. Contrary to popular belief, the Rotary cutter is a safe and easy to use tool. All it takes is a little familiarity with its proper usage and common sense. The rotary cutter featured here is an Olfa hand held cutter with a 25mm diameter blade. It also has an optional guide to control the distance from the pattern to the blade. Great for adding seam allowance.
I recommend getting 2 cutters. The smaller diameter blade shown here is great for cutting those tighter curves and lighter fabrics. The larger diameter blades are great for more layers of fabrics and when you have long straight cuts (as you'll find on pants and skirts). In addition, you will want to get a steel edged ruler. The one shown here has a thin stainless steel wire embedded into the edge. It is a smooth and rounded edge so as not to catch the rotary blade. A standard metal ruler also works well. Just make sure the metal edge is very smooth.
Get a good self-healing cutting mat. I have a very good Barco white cutting surface on my table. The Barco surface is white on one side and green on the other. I use spraymount to adhere it to my "hydraulic" (actually it is electric) table.
This image shows the proper way to hold the cutter for a right hander. Notice that the black safety cover. It should be on the thumb side. This keeps your middle finger on the opposite side of the rotary blade. Place the ruler (with steel edge on the line to cut) and then place the rotary cutter along the edge. When you cut, you must put enough pressure downwards to cut. But remember the blade needs to be moving forwards to actually cut. You must keep the blade perpendicular to the cutting surface (straighter than I am demonstrating here!). When you have a curve to cut - you don't use a ruler, obviously.
Your cuts will be better if you do not stop along the way. Try to make the cut from one corner to the next corner with out stopping.
Here you'll notice that I have placed my patterns on the fabric and placed weights on the corners of the fabric to hold it in place. Typically, I would place weights on the pattern itself but I cheat occasionally.
When you finish, be sure to cover the blade with its safety cover.
Follow these instructions and you'll find that Rotary cutting can be a productive, safe and fun experience.
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This page was last modified on: 05/21/05
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