You know how it is, when you start a new hobby. You may be a toe dipper, just trying out to see if you really like it, before you throw yourself in. Or you may be a boots and all hobbyist, buying everything you think you need before you have even learnt a new skill!
Quilting can be overwhelming from a beginners perspective. Even though I was an experienced sewist when I started, I still felt like I was drowning in a sea of cutters, templates, patterns and rulers. Every quilt has a tool, every quilter needs this or that gadget. It will make you faster, more accurate, more efficient!
Just stop. Take a deep breath. At it’s most basic, patchwork is cutting pieces of fabric up and sewing them back together again.
Firstly, invest money in a QUALITY cutting mat. I bought a chain store mat first, used it for years and was often brought to tears by the cutting stage. I thought it was my cutter. I thought it was my ruler. I thought it was me.
Turns out it was my mat. It was dulling my blades in an hour, catching them and pulling them off course so my cuts weren’t straight. The inch markings weren’t even accurate on it!
I waited for a sale, upgraded to an Olfa mat and haven’t had a problem since. My blades last and cutting is smooth and easy. It’s no longer the most dreaded part of a project!
Secondly, try clear grip – it’s like removable contact paper for the back of your rulers. If you are having trouble keeping your rulers straight, if the pressure of your hand or the cutter makes them slip slightly as you are cutting, it’s worth trying a product like this. It was a small investment, but it’s made a world of difference to my accuracy! I tend to be a heavy handed cutter. I lean on my rulers hard. This product helps hold them in place on the fabric, meaning your cuts are less likely to go off track. No more wasted fabric! It’s simple to apply, and as you can see above, barely obstructs your view to the fabric below.
Lastly, spray starch is a life saver. I give all my fabrics a quick press before cutting, and this helps flatten them out to make my cutting easier and again, more accurate! It will help hold your tricky triangles in place when sewing, tames bias edges and keeps seams flat and under control. As a bonus hint, keep a lint roller near your ironing/cutting area, picks up all those stray threads and you won’t have to spend hours picking them off your quilts! This is just a cheap ikea one, I wouldn’t live without it now.
I hope that these ideas save you some time, money and frustration whether you are a beginning quilter, or have been sewing for a while. Please subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on any hints, tutorials and reviews. Happy patchworking!