Updated: Aug 2, 2020
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If you missed Part One of this 3-Post series, you can find it HERE.
Things Have Changed!
I began quilting back in the 1970s. At that time, we did not have all the wonderful tools that are available to us today. No rotary cutters; no acrylic rulers; no self-healing mats just to name a few. In those days, we marked our fabrics with homemade templates and cut out all our pieces with a pair of old-fashioned scissors one piece at a time!
Over time, things improved as new tools were slowly introduced making the cutting process faster, less tedious and more accurate. With all these new tools at my fingertips, I could not imagine that something new could be invented to make the task of cutting out a quilt top even easier. Well, Cricut proved me wrong when they introduced the Cricut Maker with it's Adaptive Tool System and Rotary Cutting Blade!
The Rotary Cutting blade will cut more than just cotton quilting fabrics as you will see it do here. It will cut through hundreds of fabrics of varying thickness and it does it with ease. And because this is a rotary cutting blade as opposed to a knife type blade, there is no need to bond your fabric before cutting!
I was blown away when I discovered the Cricut Maker. I literally purchased the Maker the day I learned about it because I was so intrigued with this new way to cut fabric and it has not disappointed!
Advantages of Cutting Fabrics with the Maker
With the Cricut Maker, Design Space and digital patterns such as the ones available from Riley Blake Designs, planning and cutting out quilt tops is so much easier. These digital patterns communicate with the Maker through Design Space which eliminates a lot of the preparation work so you can focus on the fun aspects of quilting.
1. Each piece will be cut accurately and consistently.
2. Design Space will lay out all your pieces for cutting making the most of your fabric.
3. There are no cutting errors as there are when cutting out your pieces manually.
4. The Maker relieves the stress of cutting by hand; especially for those of us who struggle with arthritis and other issues with our hands.
5. The time you save cutting can be spent on preparing your quilt back, cutting borders or preparing your binding.
I have chosen to make the "All Wrapped Up Quilt" by Riley Blake Designs with the coordinating quilt kit "Comfort and Joy" also by Riley Blake Designs. The fabric kit comes with all the fabric you need for the quilt top and the binding. You will need to purchase fabric for your quilt back and batting. I like to take the fabric out of the kit and organize them with labels that have the swatch number on each fabric. This will ensure that I am using the correct fabric as I follow along in the General Instructions.
Next you will need to prepare your fabric for placing on the pink Cricut FabricGrip mats. I like to iron my fabrics first. You will need to precut your fabric to the proper width to place on the FabricGrip mats. Cricut's Acrylic Ruler is great for precutting as it is 12" wide; the same width as the FabricGrip mats.
Cricut offers a great self-healing mat, acrylic ruler and rotary cutter in one kit called the Rotary Cutting Kit. Here is a video talking about these great tools and which demonstrates how to precut your fabrics.
The project sheet assigns a number to each mat and tells you which fabric to place on each numbered mat.
After you have prepared your FabricGrip mats for cutting, you can click on "Make It" at the bottom of the project page and you will be brought into Design Space where you will see all your mats lined up on the left of the screen.
Now, you will click on "Continue" in the bottom right corner of the screen and Design Space will prompt you to tell it what material you are using and then it will go on to tell you which tools you need to have loaded in the Maker before it can start cutting. Once your tools are loaded, you can press the "Load/Unload" button on the Maker to load your mat and after that you will be prompted to hit "Go" which is the button on the Maker with the Cricut logo.
When loading your mats, make sure that it is pressing up against the black rollers and under the white guides on each side of the machine.
From there, keep following all the onscreen step-by-step instructions in Design Space.
Following is a video tutorial which will walk you through the fabric preparation and cutting process step-by-step.
And there you have it! You are ready to start sewing your pieces together!
Helpful Hints Regarding the FabricGrip Mats
1. Try not to touch your mats as the oils from your fingers can affect the stickiness.
2. Use a pair of tweezers to remove your pieces. Cricut makes a nice pair of broad tip tweezers in its Applicator and Remover set that are great for this. Avoid using spatula tools when removing your pieces.
3. When placing your fabric on the mats, keep the fabric away from the side borders of the mats. The black rollers on the Maker ride up and down these side borders and fabric that is hanging over into the borders can get caught in the rollers.
4. Always make sure that you have enough space in front of and behind the Maker so that the FabricGrip mat has enough room as it rolls back and forth. This is especially important when you are using the 12" X 24" mats.
5. After removing your pieces from the mats, try to remove as many threads as you can. The broad tip tweezers work well for this also. If you do not want to remove the threads, the rotary blade will cut through them. But, as the thread builds up, your fabric will not stick to the mat as well.
6. You can wash your mats. How often you need to do this will vary on the types of materials you are cutting and how densely you are cutting. I like to place my mats in the kitchen sink with some warm water, a few drops of dish liquid and a tiny bit of vinegar. The threads will come right off. I only use my fingers to very gently rub off the threads. Let the mats air dry.
Stay tuned for Part Three of this series as we will be piecing our blocks together and assembling the quilt top!