I have heard a lot about die cutters and using them to cut fabric squares, rectangles and all sort of different shapes. I haven't used one before but find them quite intriquing. Cheryl Willis tests patterns for me from time to time and I know she has two of them so I asked her to pass on some information about her experience.
Here's what Cheryl says....
Disclaimer, I do not work or promote for Accuquilt- I am a fan!!
The die cutter is a useful tool. There is a short learning curve. A person can die cut as soon as they take the unit out of the box.
Basics that I try to share with newbies:
This is a tool, beware of operator error, read the manufactures suggestions before you start. Enough said.
For me, I have found a few suggestions that give me good results during my cutting time:
Mark your dies with permanent markers (color doesn't matter) The newer dies are produced in a two colors so marking isn't as important.
The first time I run a new die through the machine I place and cut a cereal box back. Use the matt too. This gives me a template of the die shape. I can use the template to scissor cut or audition scraps for that die.
I have two cutters a BABY version and the GO, both are great for home use. The company makes a larger machine too.
My favorite dies are the ones with unique shapes. Apple core, Tumblers, Drunkards Path, Winding Ways, etc... Ones that can cut multiple shapes with one pass.
Every tool has pros and cons, newbies complain about:
- static (that can be controlled by using a dryer sheet to wipe the matt and die),
- strings/threads sticking in the die (looser weave fabric may leave threads, one can remove them with the pick included with the machine or I use a seam ripper to remove them),
- waste of fabric (I am a scrapper so I don't see any waste, I cut the shapes I want, anything that doesn't make the cut goes into a tote of strings or crumbs for scrappy blocks)
Once you own your machine and dies of choice I know you will enjoy the speed of cutting to sewing. I have been cutting and kitting up for future projects for a couple of years now. Don't know how I got along with out my cutter.
My quilting friends chip in on purchasing matts and we get together to make baby quilts and donation quilts. It is a blast to cut a quilt out together in under an hour. I am currently working on a scappy star block. Cut out entirely from stash!
Wow, thanks for sharing your story Cheryl. It looks amazing. Cheryl has a blog that she updates regularly with the projects she is working on. You might like to check it out. Cheryl's blog
We also have a number of patterns that work great with die cutter's. Any of our bargello patterns work great with a strip cutter and Anita's two patterns "Rainbow Peaks" and "Angels or Angles" were written based on die cutters. We have a number of other patterns too.