Thursday, May 13, 2010

Left Handed Rotary Cutting Tutorial

I decided to make a tutorial for rotary cutting for left-handers--hope this helps some of you out. If anyone has any questions or needs more help on this, please let me know--I'm glad to help!

Some safety tips first:
When rotary cutting, always cut away from your body.
Close the protective cover on the rotary cutter every time you put it down. Every. Time. Thank you.
If you have kids in your house, put the rotary cutter up high when you are stopping working with it, even for a short time.

I started out with a fairly long piece of fabric that was also the complete original width. I needed to straighten my edge so I could get straight strips that went across the whole width of the fabric. First I held up the fabric, with selvedge edges together, and adjusted the two top corners until the selvedges were parallel and there were no ripples in the fabric. Amy has a tutorial just for squaring up fabric here, if you want to read more about it.

The photo above shows how to line up the ruler along the fold of the fabric, making sure that the cut edge will be a 90 degree angle to the fold. (The fold is lined up with the 1/2" marks near the bottom of the ruler.)

For left-handed rotary cutting, you will always cut on the left side of the ruler, while holding the ruler firmly in place with your right hand. (This action shot courtesy of my 5-year-old.) For long cuts, after you have cut up to where your fingertips are on the ruler, pause for a second and carefully (don't move the ruler!) move your hand higher up on the ruler.
After I make the straightening cut, I like to unfold my fabric and lay the ruler along the center of the fabric to make sure it is straight. If it's not, sometimes I will try the folded technique again, or sometimes I will cut the edge straight while the fabric is unfolded. This requires carefully shifting the fabric as the whole width of it doesn't fit on my cutting mat.

Now I am ready to cut strips. I move the bulk of the fabric over to the left of the ruler, so I can use the ruler to measure the width of the strip I am cutting (2 1/4 inches, here). It doesn't have to be perfectly lined up with the lines on the mat for this. If you are going to be cutting several strips, it might be a good idea to unfold your fabric and check that it is still straight after 4 or 5 cuts.
If I need to cut a strip that is wider than my ruler, then I use my mat to help measure. I make sure the edge of the fabric is lined up with a line on the mat, and then line up my ruler using the measurements on the edges of the mat. The above photo shows the set up to cut a 6 1/2" strip. The left edges of the ruler are lined up with the 11 1/2" mark on both the top and bottom mat edges (see photo below). 

I also wanted to show how to use the 45 degree line on the ruler to cut the edges for binding strips. Line up several layers of fabric on top of each other.
Place the 45 degree line along the long side of the strip, and cut.
For the other end of my binding strips, I place the 45 degree line along the long edge of the strip, but in the portion that will be cut off. This is so the strips will sew together correctly into one long binding strip. (More about quilt binding here, if you're interested. )

I hope this is helpful! I'd love it if anyone has feedback about this. Does everything make sense? Have I left anything out? Please let me know in the comments.


Vicki @ DottyJane said...

This is good advice for righties, too! Great tutorial:) said...

I think this is fantastic! Both lefties and righties can get so much out of this. Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

Dielle said...

So what's the deal with your ruler? It looks like you've cut it for a sleeve shape???

Unknown said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

I am truly just getting started with quilting and am a lefty. I also learn best when I have written words AND illustrations together. Thanks SO much for these great tips.

Shannyn said...

I know this is an older post but I just found it today! As a leftie livin' in a righty world....thanks SO much for the tips! These days I'm mostly an ambidextrous sewist out of neccessity. (Say that ten times fast!)