Oh dear! With this gloomy, rainy weather, we're hardly ending August and entering the Bank Holiday on a high note, are we? Good job then, that after the disappointment of yesterday's "the postie came and you were out" card, that ding dong went the door bell this morning and there was Mr Postie with a very large box for me. Oh happy days! You see, I had a good idea of what might be coming in the big red van, courtesy of the lovely folks over at Accuquilt.
Have you seen this new innovation before? It seems to have made quite an impact on the quilting community. I saw the Go cutter at the Festival of Quilts recently, in fact it had been on my mind since I saw them last year. I chatted with the very nice American lady on the stand who suggested I got in touch with the Accuquilt folks and they kindly offered me a "Go!baby" cutter to trial and share with you here on the ole' HenHouse blog.
The idea is simple: the Go!baby is a die-cutting machine so instead of cutting all the necessary pieces for your quilt top either by hand with scissors and templates, or with a rotary cutter and mat, you let the Go!baby do the work. It is both a time saving device and a highly accurate way of cutting your pieces, as we know, the greater your level of accuracy, the better the quilt and I have found, the more pleasurable it is to make. There's nothing more annoying than trying to cobble together pieces which don't fit exactly and ending up with a less than perfect result.
There is a very wide choice of dies (that's the black coloured item in the photo above), these are the cutters, you combine the die with a mat (which can be used for any die and is the transparent board above) and away you go. I chose three dies to try out and was most keen to go at it with the tumbler die. The tumbler is a very traditional quilt design but would be very laborious to cut out using a template and scissors by hand. I don't do laborious!
First, you need to cut your fabric to fit the shape you are cutting out, so it will fit on the die and there will be minimal wastage. For this die, I found it ideal to cut the fabric 9" wide by 11" long, that way, the fabric can be folded in two before being fed through the Go!baby cutter. Have I told you the best thing about the cutter? It seems it's very popular with the more junior members of the household! Reader, I have an apprentice!
My apprentice (aka The Munchkin) found that it was easy to layer up two lots of fabric, so in fact, we were cutting through 4 layers of fabric at once. The results were nigh on perfect, the need sometimes to snip the odd stray fabric thread depending on the fabric being cut and the number of layers, but by the end, we pretty much felt like Go!baby pros! As you can see from my able assistant, you place your fabric on the die, position the cutting mat on top and by the turn of a handle (I suspect the Apprentice likes this bit most), the whole lot goes swiftly through the cutter and comes out the other side. The first go took a little bit of force, I guess because it was a new machine but from then on, it was very easy to whizz through with little effort.
Imagine the Apprentice's delight when out come perfect tumblers! All this and the promise (ok, bribe) of a bit of pocket money too!
We found there was very little waste, such that there is, is in a pile to be sent to my sister who loves working on miniature quilts and is always a willing recipient of my odds and ends, the smaller the better! (We cut 12 tumblers in this instance and had the wastage you can see in the photo below).
I would say in about two hours, we had a very large pile of tumbler pieces, in fact we had cut 154, all in beautiful 1930's style fabrics. They are mainly Japanese by Lecien and Atsuko Matsuyama, with a bit of "Red Rose Farm" thrown in for good measure.
The Accuquilt folks made it easy for us by even including a pattern for a tumbler baby quilt on the packaging which accompanied the die. So, we've cut out our pieces and I'm raring to go!
I think the cutter comes into its own for shapes like this. I'm happy enough cutting basic squares and strips by hand (though I wouldn't rule out using the Go!baby), but for more complicated shapes which need to be drawn round then cut out with scissors, this system is undoubtedly a God-send. It's also brilliant for those who find using a rotary cutter and mat too hard on their hands and wrists as this system requires less effort or pressure on those body parts.
There's loads to mooch at on the Accuquilt website, you can even download a die wishlist which seems a very dangerous (but desirable) option to me! I can see my Christmas list starting early! You can also download 22 fabby quilt patterns to use for free just by giving your email address. Have a gander here for the free downloadable patterns and lots of inspiration.
Just before you start hating me and thinking I am the spawniest girly in the world for having this fabulous goody for free, hang fire and watch this space because you'll get your turn, my dear readers. What was it my mum told me so frequently when I was a nipper, "all good things come to those who wait". I believe it now, I certainly didn't then!
Now, I have 154 tumblers to sew together and you can be sure I'll be showing you the result very soon. Have a faberoony weekend!