There are plenty of times where I talk about new tools in the store and show you all how the gadgets and gizmos aplenty can help you in your sewing room. How this great ruler or this wonderful cutter will make your sewing and quilting so easy and precise! Have you ever seen something so wonderful?!? I think it’s about time to take a look at some of our old reliables hanging around.
In the classroom I’m always yelling about rotary cutter safety. Dull blades are more dangerous than a sharp blade I tell them all the time. When the blade is dull we tend to push and pull to get the blade to cut through our layers and that’s how accidents happen. And when a student is struggling to cut through two layers of fabric, my first question is always, “When was the last time you changed your blade?”. And there are plenty of times that they come back to me that the blade is new and they can’t understand why they’re having a problem. And sometimes they just didn’t put their cutter back together properly. Sometimes they’ve switched a washer around or I’ve even see two blades put on there together!
There is one thing I never think to tell them to replace when they’re having a problem: Their Cutting Mat. Recently I was cutting out strip after strip to get a sample ready for a class. I was having one heck of a time. No matter what I did I could not get a nice cut. They were wonky, they weren’t even, the fabric got skipped in a few spots so I did what I always do, I changed my blade. And I cursed whoever used the rotary cutter last as a lazy bum who ruined blades and didn’t say anything. As the afternoon wore on, I ended up having to share my cutting mat with someone else and I decided to get out our great big cutting mat. Now this is the mat that only employees use. This one isn’t out for the general public to use. This one is nice and new and feels oh so good. And I could tell the difference with the first cut. I mean I could feel a real difference as to how I was cutting. No more skipped areas, no more frayed edges, no more elbows, no more wonky. I never thought I’d say this but I’m sorry to everyone I ever made purchase a new blade when in fact their board was to blame for everything.
And now knowing that the cutting mat has as much to do with a clean and accurate cut as the rest of our tools, here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a cutting mat and when it’s time to replace your old mat:
1- Don’t buy a cheap mat.
2- Replace it when it looks all dried out and has all kinds of cuts in it because it’s no longer healing itself.
Oh, did you want me to get into a list of things to look out for? Honey, if you’re having problems cutting and you’ve tried everything else, maybe it’s time to replace your cutting mat. If it looks like crap and has fuzzies all stuck in it and you can’t even remember when you bought it or if you have to go by how old your children are to think of when you purchased it, throw it out and get a new one please.
I can’t say this often enough, it’s one thing to be thrifty and not want to waste things and get as much use out of them as you can. But we’re sewing because we want to. We want sewing to be fun. We don’t want to struggle and trudge through each step of the process. Learn from my mistakes, do not force yourself to keep using that old, dried out Cutting Mat!!