Do you still have questions or reservations when using your AccuQuilt fabric cutter. Check out these tips and ensure your fabric cuts with are the best they can be!
In this AccuQuilt Fabric Cutter Tutorial You'll Learn:
- How To Get The Most Accurate Cuts
- How To Fanfold To Never Waste Fabric
- Difference Between Crosswise vs Lengthwise Grain
A huge benefit of using an AccuQuilt Fabric Cutter is getting much more accurate cuts than a rotary cutter.
To make sure you are using the AccuQuilt fabric cutters correctly, it is important to understand the fabric grain. Educating yourself on the various types of grain will make your AccuQuilt quilting life so much more enjoyable and preventing any inaccurate cuts.
Following the grain line reduces distortion and results in more accurate piecing, noticeably enhancing the overall appearance of your finished quilt.
Crosswise vs. Lengthwise Fabric Grain
To start, the lengthwise grain runs parallel to the tightly woven finished edge, also known as the selvage or the self-finished edge of your quilt fabric. It has the least amount of stretch and is the strongest and smoothest grain.
If you can’t tell your lengthwise grain because the selvage edge has already been removed, then sound is another full proof way to find it. Hold the fabric along one grain with both hands and give it a couple of sharp tugs. Listen carefully to the sound it makes. Then grasp along the other grain and tug again. The snapping sound made by the lengthwise grain will be slightly higher pitched than when tugging on the crosswise grain. Watch quilting icons Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson show you how to recognize the lengthwise grain:
The crosswise grain, which runs perpendicular to the selvage, is usually looser and has slightly more stretch than the lengthwise grain. With geometric shapes like squares and triangles, we do not recommend running your fabric through the GO! cutter on the crosswise grain, as it can cause inaccurate cuts. Here’s a tip: For geometric and Block on Board (BOB) dies, place your fabric on the lengthwise grain as it goes through the cutter for most accurate cuts. If you’re still unsure what this means, use these helpful reminders:
1) Place your fabric on the die with the lengthwise grain running the length of the cutter.
2) If your fabric’s selvage is intact, place the fabric on the die with the selvage edge facing you or the cutter handle. The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage, so you’ll always know you have the fabric placed correctly.
When cutting strips, because the blades are open-ended, place the fabric on the crosswise grain on the die (similar to how you would cut strips with a rotary cutter). The folded edge should go through the roller first and the selvage edges last.
The last grain line is called the bias, and it runs diagonally (45-degree angle) between the lengthwise and crosswise grain and has the most stretch. When fabric is cut on the bias, it is susceptible to stretching because there are no other stabilizing threads along the edges. (Perhaps great for some designer clothes; not so much for quilts.) However, if you have a fabric design that can only be cut on the bias, you can back it with a lightweight fusible web in order to help stabilize it.
Fanfolding and Layering
Now that you have a full grasp of the lengthwise grain, it’s time to get your fabric ready to fanfold, so you can put it on top of your cutter. However, please keep in mind that you cannot use the fanfold method with all of our die-cutting shapes. You must check the how-to instructions in the packaging for each shape. Additionally, when laying your fabric over the die, only place it over the shapes you wish to cut, not the entire die board. This will help you save fabric.
Now, when fanfolding your fabric start by cutting a width of fabric strip that measures the width of the shape on the die board you are wanting to cut plus add ½” to the measurement. Place the fabric strip (selvage edge facing you or the cutter handle) over the shape then fan fold back and forth up to six layers. Make sure the fold extends just past the blades on the shape, but no more than a ½” or so in order to prevent fabric waste. You can then place the mat over the fabric and roll it through the fabric cutter.
Layering your fabric works similarly. Start by measuring the width and length of the shape on the die board you want to cut, plus add ½” to both measurements. Place the fabric rectangles or squares (selvage edge facing you or the cutter handle) over the shape (up to 6 layers), making sure the layers extend just past the blades on the shape and then place the mat on top of the die board and fabric and roll it through the cutter.
See a few examples below on how to fanfold and place your fabric on the die.
Number of Layers
With all the GO! fabric cutters cutting up to six layers and the Studio 2 cutting up to 10 layers of 100% cotton fabric, it is easy to see how the AccuQuilt fabric cutters will help you cut your fabric faster and more accurately than cutting with a rotary cutter.
However, the number of layers you can cut depends on the type of material (e.g., thickness), so always begin cutting with fewer layers of fabric and then build up to six layers. The number of layers you are able to cut also depends on the intricacy of the die design. We recommend trying some test cuts to determine how many layers work best with each type of fabric and die combination.
GO! dies come with Two-Tone™ Foam, an AccuQuilt innovation, which makes it easier to see the shapes on each die board so quilters know exactly where the blades cut. After all, you don’t want to ruin your fabric by cutting shapes incorrectly. But, even if you do, there is no such thing as wasted fabric, as you can make even the tiniest scraps into useful shapes with AccuQuilt fabric cutters and dies.
When precutting your fabric down to size, see the GO! Fabric Reference Chart so you’ll know exactly how much fabric you need. (And remember, read the instructions on each die package for recommended layering or fanfolding instructions.)
Something to keep in mind when applying fusible web to your fabric for appliqué is that fusible web counts as a half layer of fabric. So, when you run your fabric through the cutter you’ll only want to cut 3-4 layers at a time.
Types of Fabric
You have many types of fabric options that are easy to cut with our fabric cutters. At the top of the list is 100% cotton fabric, which is by far the most common fabric type that quilters use and most recommended for our cutters. There are many options under the 100% cotton fabric umbrella, such as broadcloth, homespun, corduroy, damask, canvas, chintz, chenille, velveteen, and so on. However, take extra precaution when you’re combining various types of 100% cotton fabrics, as some of these fabrics may not work well together for pieced quilts. For instance, chintz has a high thread count with a glazed finish, so it’s more difficult to needle than most 100% cotton fabrics, and chintz frequently puckers when stitched. At a minimum, you should always consider how your fabrics will behave throughout the quilting process, whether you’re pressing, sewing, hanging, or washing them.
Just as you have many options when working with 100% cotton fabric, wool offers a similar flexibility, especially felted wool. To felt the wool you simply machine wash it in hot water with a bit of detergent, rinse in cool water, then machine dry it on high heat.
If you’re a quilter who enjoys appliqué, then felted wool is great for your projects as there’s no need to turn the edges under since felted wool will not ravel. You simply use a blanket stitch along the raw edges.
Some other fabrics that you can cut with our family of fabric cutters include flannel or fleece, denim, felt, velvet, and faux leather.
In closing, if you have a full grasp of fabric grain, understand your fabric options and how to fanfold and layer the fabric appropriately for our cutters, then you are well-equipped to start creating awesome quilting projects.
Have any questions about how to use your fabric cutter more accurately? Leave a comment!