A rotary cutter is a tool used to cut fabric and mainly composed by three parts: a circular rotating blade, an ergonomic handle and an open/shut safety latch.
A rotary cutter combines the high-cutting efficiency and balance technology of the needlework scissors with the unique manufacturing process to the functional need to cut contemporaneously out multiple layers of light-or heavyweight fabric materials to straight lines, as well as curves, into shapes and pieces for craft projects. Quilting and patchwork become easier and time-saving, as it avoids working exhausting up to mark and cut single fabric patches every time and speeds certainly up the quilt assembly.
The Olfa Company introduced the first rotary cutter in 1979 for garment making. It was handy in place of scissors and quickly adopted by quilters who began the patchwork-revolution!
The blade. Circular and rolling, sharp and precise, swift and all-purpose: there is a blade to suit every need. The blade is made of high-quality carbide coated tungsten steel or titanium for an unparalleled sharpness; as well as it is double-honed for extra cutting capacity and durability.
It is available in several different sizes and diameters, from mm. 18 to mm. 60. Usually the larger the blade the easier is to slice through the fabric’s layers. More than a single rotary cutter will be necessary for some tasks than others. To cut out smoothly and easily through multi-layers, the blade mm. 60 in diameter is perfect and exact. Versatile and accurate for quilting, sewing and craft projects, the basic blade mm. 45 creates a safe and comfortable cut. As well, the small blade mm. 18 is a good solution to cut around sharp curves.
Most of the manufacturers offer now the hassle-free blade change, i.e. the blade can easily be changed with just a single click: no washer no nut anymore. Quick blade change feature means simply to slide the lock down, to release the old blade and to load the new one, to secure the lock and be ready to cut again.
The rotary cutter accommodates straight, small and large wave, pinking, deckle, scallop, stitch blanket and perforating blades for decorative edging.
The handle. Straight and rounded, short and long, ergonomic and comfortable, soft-touch and looping: there are many shapes of handles to fit into the palm of the quilter’s hand. For both right- and left-handed users with an exclusive style that generally includes a built-in back and forth cover for safety when the blade is not in use.
Every manufacturer develops its own design and technical functionality: such as, the soft-grip handle reduces strain on wrist and hand; the special finger grips, or integrated grooves, prevent slippage and assure comfort and ease of use; the ratchet handle aligns the hand and the wrist and help not to drop with fatigue and to decrease moving.
The safety latch. All rotary cutters have a safety latch that moves back and forth to expose the blade or to cover it up: in fact, the safety lock on one side of the rotary cutter prevent the blade to accidentally engage. A two-position spring-action safety lock, or a dual-action lock, features the latch that locks the blade open for comfort and closed for safety. Some manufacturers produce the pressure-sensitive blade, i.e. it engages automatically when pressure is applied for cutting.
How to use safely. It is very important to follow carefully the specific manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines, also to replace the old dull blade, so to avoid unpleasant incidents as the blades are extremely sharp and therefore dangerous.
Where to buy.
1) Manufacturer’s on-line shops (please refer to images and note that these are the ones whose rotary cutters I usually use, but there is a large number of on-topic-websites on network).
2) Quilting and patchwork fairs and exhibitions (please enter on search engines and select; there are so many shows everywhere worldwide).
3) Quilting and patchwork and /or haberdashery shops & stores & outlets.
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