The strip cutter is a handy tool, although not without its quirks. Its construction is fairly good, given its home-use audience.
The cutting bar carries the most weight of any of its parts and locks down to keep the fabric in place as you cut. When you release the cutting bar, you can also lock it in an upright position, a nice safety feature.
It uses a standard Fiskars 45 mm rotary cutting blade, and includes clear instructions for replacing a worn blade. The The blade runs almost flush against the cutting bbar so there's very little chance of cutting yourself with it. I have not tried any other brand of 45 mm blade in the cutter.
The cutting surface underneath the blade can be flipped over to a fresh surface once the original is worn. It's also available as a replacement part.
The gridded surface will accommodate fabric that is no more than 13 inches across, so if you want to cut from selvage to selvage, you must fold the fabric. I used cotton fabric that was already folded as it was on the bolt, and simply folded it again lengthwise.
For making cuts, you keep the bulk of the fabric on your right-hand side (so left-handed folks will need to figure out how to translate the directions). There are clearly printed lines at 1-inch intervals with dotted lined indicating 1/4-inch increments.
A swing-out arm creates a measuring surface of up to 13 inches, so it's possible to cut strips that wide.
Once my fabric was in place, I locked down the cutting bar. The cutter is protected by a curved housing which also serves as a handle for you to grasp. The cutter bar is designed so that you can press gently along its side with the fingers of your left hand while cutting with your right hand. Starting near my body, I firmly and quickly pushing the cutter across the fabric, and was rewarded with a nice, clean cut through all 4 layers.
One quibble is that the lock for the cutting bar is not as strong as I expected it to be. I'm able to pop it open with the moderate push of a finger. Another problem is that you have to be careful when you release the cutting bar that it doesn't pop back toward you pinching your hand or fingers. Those may not be major quibbles, but just be aware that you need to be careful.
Just for grins, I next tried to make a similar cut by drawing the cutter towards me. Yucky results. Using firmer pressure, I was able to produce a nice, even edge through all four layers of fabric. Cutting toward myself was also a bit awkward for me, but I was curious to see how the process might work. So you CAN cut good strips by pulling the cutter toward yourself, but it's not as quick or as intuitive for someone who's used to pushing a rotary cutter away.
Be sure you use a firm surface for the cutter. There are 5 small rubber feet on the bottom which do a fair job of gripping the surface below and stabilizing the strip cutter.
The feet, however, are kind of cheesy. When I picked up the cutter to put it back in its box, one of them fell right off, sending me scrambling to grab it before my cat did. I'm betting that if you use the cutter a lot, the feet will quickly fail.
I think I'll check at the hardware/appliance parts store to see if I can get replacement feet that are more substantial.
Another possible solution would be the rubbery shelf liner that you can buy at almost any discount store. If you use it under the cutter, it should prevent it from slipping when you push the blade through the fabric. Its something I already use under my sewing machine and foot pedal to keep them from sliding around.
The strip cutter's price at Joann's was $49.99, but I was able to use the coupon from my sale flyer which brought the cost down to a more reasonable $30. My neighborhood Joann's only had 3 strip cutters in stock, and they went quickly once the sale started.
I checked a website devoted to helping people fix problems with tools and equipment --www.fixya.com. There were no complaints yet registered for the strip cutter.
I'm wondering if there might be an advantage in using the cutter to cut multiple strip sets into square or rectangular blocks, but I haven't taken the time to investigate that aspect yet. If you try it, please let me know your thoughts.
All that being said, the cutter makes quick work of cutting strips in a variety of widths. It's obviously a plus to get it at a sale price. And if you have a coupon for Joann's online store, it might even pay to order it.
There are also some other online sources that might have it at a discount, in case you don't have a Joann's or similar store nearby. And you might want to check at Michael's as well to see if they stock it.
That's great to hear, Pam. Could you write about it a little more for us? Describe it in a bit more detail, and how you use it. Tell us more about why you like it. Include a photo, or maybe a link to one so that we can see it. Thanks!!!
Regarding the Gypsy Grippers...I love mine. I alway's had a problem of my ruler slipping when I got to the end of the fabric. I can't say enough about the "gripper". FYI You can also purchase these at Bed Bath and Beyond for much cheaper. They are sold there as a shower gadget and with the coupon you can get it for almost 1/2 off of what the fabric stores sell's them for. I found this out after I bought mine but I love it so much that it really didn't matter. I just wanted to let those of you know who haven't purchased one yet.
Thanks for the tip on the savings at BB&B, Cindy! It's funny how tools from other hobbies or businesses get translated into use in the quilting community. Before I saw the Gypsy Grippers, I was eyeing my husband's home repair tools, because among them was this suction gripper used for handling window glass. It looked interesting, and I was considering trying it out on my rulers. But the thing showed up online as the Gypsy Grippers, and I liked their colors better than the drab grey-brown of my husband's tool. :-)
I just looked at my cutter that I had for 18 yrs and realized it was Kai cut, I got it with a mat for my cutting table. I like the idea that the blade retracts when not in use. I like the olfa blades made in Japan, I found the blades made in China are flat on one side, took me awhile to figure this out after the material I was cutting was off.
Those gypsy grippers look great, I used a hook plastic thingy for my flying geese ruler (took the hook off) it worked well. I couldn't pick up the ruler without it. Want to share a little story about cutters. I had this Friskers cutter and put a new blade in, I was cutting away and after awhile I saw this blood, I was thinking where is this blood coming from, so I had to stop and find out, the back of my hand had a slice on it and was bleeding profusely, what a pain to stop when on a roll, so I put a band aid on it and continued on, but I think I should have had stitches, I still have a scar.
Patricia--ouch! i've only had one cut from my rotary cutter, but i'll be more careful. And I'll wear shoes--think about it. I've never dropped my rotary cutter, but I am usually barefoot and it's a good idea to be on the safe side.
This is another of my favorite tools. I use this frequently. There is pocket reference guide tucked into the back of the case. Instead of me trying to remember everything this calculator does I will quote from the reference book.....................
" The new Quilter's FabriCalc Design and Fabric Estimating Calculator is perfect for all of your design needs.
The Quilter's FabriCalc easily calculates your material yardage so you can focus on creativity.
Your calculator helps your solve:
Quilt Fabric Yardage for any size or style of quilt, including:
Border yardage (mitered or straight corners)
Drop yardage ( mitered or straight corners)
Yardage for various sizes of blocks, including sashing, if needed
Yardage, cut sizes (including seam allowance) and number of strips to cut for various sizes, including
1/2 square and 1/4 square triangles
Yardage, cut sizes (including seam allowance) and number of strips to cut for 45 degree and 60 degree
Also calculates number of squares or diamonds that can be cut from any size of fabric you want to use -make the most of your "stash" of fabric!!
Easlity keep track of how much fabric you need for various colors of fabrics - store up to six different types of fabrics."
In addition, it also serves as a full functioning calculator. Mine sits right on my cutting table so it is at my fingertips whenever I am ready to cut out a new project. I give this tool 5 Stars - It is well worth the $$$ - I believe I paid about $35-$40 for it about 3 years ago!! Joann's has it and with your 40% or 50% off coupon it is a steal!!
This is one of my favorites too. At first I was kind of intimidated by how much you could do with it, so I just started out with simple things... now I can go to a site like Quilter's Cache, pick a block and get all the measurements of fabric for any size quilt. I think its a GREAT tool.
I sure agree with this assessment. It is a wonderful tool. I likely would not have bought one for myself, but I was given one by my boss at our lqs and I have loved it ever since. Especially the fact that I don't have to do all these calculations to figure out half square triangles and quarter square triangles, etc. I would recommend this tool to anyone.