Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Things (and a couple good tips)

I picked up this little Fiskars Rotary Cutter Set on sale at Joann's a few months ago, and promptly forgot about it.

Then when I was getting ready for my quilt retreat last month, I came across it, still in its original wrapping, and decided to throw it in "just in case".

Turns out, it was the absolute perfect tool to trim the small hourglass units for my Ohio Star blocks!  Did I mention it swivels? You can see a peek of the white base below the gray mat below.

The square ruler is 2 1/2" with the 1/2" clearly marked on two sides, as you can see. The tiny rotary cutter is sharp as all get out, and perfect for this small application.

See? Perfect hourglass units! 

Then a week or so ago I read a tip about using Curad Clear Tape on your rulers to keep them from slipping, so I thought I'd give it a try.

This is actually the Walgreens brand, but its the same thing. Sorry I was so excited to rip it out of its packaging and try it, I forgot to take a pix of the package! But I think you can find it, just look for "clear adhesive tape" in the bandage section of the drug store.

I taped two rows down the right side of my ruler, and a couple "corners" of tape on the other side. I'm still experimenting on where all to place the tape.

The tape is a little frosty, but you can still see the fabric edge and measuring lines clearly enough. And.. it really grips the fabric! No more slipping. Too bad I didn't have this when I was making those dozens of hourglass units (above) ! Anyway, thanks to whoever recommended this tape, and forgive me for not making a note of where I read it. My bad, as they say ~

And speaking of cutting mats, my several-year-old Olfa was getting pretty warped and raggy so I had to bite the bullet and buy a new one. The one I really wanted was one of those Martelli mats that cut like a dream, but those are well over $100 for the size I need at home and I just couldn't get myself to spring for one. I looked on Amazon to see if it were any cheaper (answer: no) but then I happened upon the Alvin mats, which are similar (tho not as pretty) at a fraction of the cost. The reviews were mostly good to excellent,  with one consistent complaint, which I'll get to. Anyway.. I took a chance and ordered one.

It came today!

btw its charcoal gray on the opposite side.

OK here's the caveat: its not "quite" 36x24 as advertized. They fudge a little at the edges, and the measurements are slightly off.  So don't buy one of these if you depend on the mat measurements being accurate. I never have, so this is not an issue with me.

The good news is, it performs like a dream. I am amazed at how easily my rotary cutter glides through the fabric on this mat! Of course this is only the first day, but I have high hopes it won't suddenly revert to horrible any time soon. Martelli, eat your heart out. 

BTW here's another little tip for ya.. in case you're wondering, that's a strip of waste batting wrapped around the handle of my rotary cutter. It makes it easier on my hand.

The "36x24" mat cost me a whopping $27. To qualify for free shipping, I threw in one of these handy little LED lamps:

I already had one I ordered as an "add on" a few months ago, and it really came in handy when we lost power - the same day it arrived, no less. I keep it on my nightstand, and the new one will go next to the bed in the guest room.

You just touch that little circle thingie, and you get light - lots of it - in three progressive brightnesses. They range between $10-15, depending on the sellers mood, I guess.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tips, and have some time to sew, which in my case is getting more elusive as time goes on!



  1. Glad the tape tip is working for you! I've never heard of the Alvin mats--I will have to check them out. The last big mat I invested in was left in the hot car and warped like crazy before I ever got to use it--my bad.

  2. Oooh! Lots of great gadget ideas! I especially like that little portable light. I think I'll get one of those for sure! Thanks for the review! cheers, cw

  3. Martelli's occasionally has a red line half off sale and believe me the mat is very accurate and the erganomic rotery cutter is worth every cent. Very hard to warp also, they ship rolled up. Made in Pensacola, Florida. Their Quilting hoop has the best grip I've seen.Just found your site today, great tips, even if I am two years late.