Friday, January 22, 2016
Did you know that you should give your cutting mat a spa treatment once in a while? Run a few inches of lukewarm water in the bathtub and add a cup of white vinegar and a small squirt of dish soap. Mix by hand and place your mat, face up, in the tub. Leave to sit 20 minutes or longer if really dirty. Rinse in cool water.
Most blades do not get dull from cutting fabric. They are ruined by hitting something hard, like a pin. If you take a little more care, and clean and oil your blade occasionally it will also last considerably longer - whether it is an Olfa or a Generic.
Your new rotary cutter will come packaged with a small amount of oil on the blade. Do not wipe it off. Leave it on, it will not harm your fabric and your cutter will cut smoother.
When cutting very linty fabrics, be sure to clean your cutter often. To clean the cutter, remove the screw on the back of the area where the blade is attached. Remove the nut; remove the curved washer, and the screw. Lay everything on the table in the order that you removed it -- pay attention to the direction of the washer and nut. Also remove the blade protector. Clean the blade and the black plastic shield with a clean cloth moistened with a few drops of sewing machine oil. Place a small drop of oil on both sides of the blade and replace everything in the order you removed it. Most rotary cutter packages have a diagram of how to reassemble the cutter. Next time you purchase a new cutter, save a package to refer to when assembling your cutter after cleaning.
Many quilters tighten the screw so tight that the blade doesn't roll easily. To test this, open the cutter and place the blade on your mat without fabric. Roll the blade across your mat. You will want the blade to turn easily on the mat. If the blade seems tight loosen it, and if it is loose and sloppy, tighten it. When the blade is rolling freely it is much easier to make a cut through your fabric.
If you find you need a new rotary cutter blade and one is not available, take your rotary cutter apart, clean and oil as instructed. When reassembling the cutter, replace the blade in reverse of the way it was before. My brand of blades has little numbers on one side that usually show when the cutter is assembled. If you turn it over so the numbers are toward the safety cover, you might get a few more hours of cutting from the reversed blade.
If you use bed sheets as backing, the cheaper ones are best as the weave is not as dense.
A nylon pot scrubber will remove loose threads from a quilt top.