The whole point of patchwork is to fit shapes of fabric together, sometimes in specific
patterns, to give an end result of colour and design. The process is much easier if the
pieces are accurately cut.
Most people still work in inches with quarter inch seam allowances for the patches.
To be able to cut accurately for piecing there are three very important pieces of
1. Rotary cutter an average cutter has a 45 mm diameter blade that is very sharp
and should be treated with the greatest of respect. To this end we sell the de-luxe cutter
which can be adjusted for right or left handed use but has the safety benefit of
automatically protecting you from the blade whenever your hand lets go of the handle.
Rotary cutters are wonderful when used sensibly very accurate and labour saving.
2. Rotary cutting mat these are known as self-healing mats as they close up the
surface after being cut with the rotary blade. This does not mean that they are
indestructible and in use it is sensible to vary the line of cutting or a deep gorge will
appear in your mat. We sell the double-sided mats with metric on one side and imperial on
3. Ruler for rotary cutting - this needs to be wide enough to hold properly ( a standard
12 inch ruler just will not work and you are likely to have it slip and cut either where
you dont wish to cut or, worse still, cut yourself. A good quality 6 x 24 inch ruler
provides the length and width to do the job with ease.
For the average patchwork enthusiast the medium mat works very well. For measuring and
cutting straight lines the grain of the fabric needs to be square with the grid on the
cutting mat and the ruler is then placed lining up across the fabric so that it follows
straight across the mat.
The ruler is used as a guide for the rotary cutter. Prepare to cut with your whole hand on
the ruler the hand should be arched rather than flat thereby spreading the pressure
on the ruler right across its width. Always rotary cut away from you and when the rotary
cutter has passed where your hand is, walk your hand up the ruler and re-apply the
pressure without moving either the ruler or the cutter and continue cutting. Start cutting
by running the cutter on to the fabric and finish by running the cutter off the fabric. It
is better to take a little time and cut this way than to take a great swipe at the fabric
and have the ruler move.
A number of layers may be cut simultaneously and squares or strips are simple once you
have acquired the knack of cutting.
Whilst learning to cut it is sensible to take a cheap piece of cotton such as calico and
keep practising by cutting it up until you feel confident you have control of the cutter.
It is more economical to do this than to damage a more expensive fabric.
As with scissors, the blade of the cutter will stay sharp considerably longer when using
natural fabric such as cotton etc. than it does with synthetic such as polyester which is
rather like the concrete of the fabric world.