AccuQuilt: Back to Basics, Part 1

Well, it’s back to school time again! As a child growing up, I dreaded heading back to the classroom each fall. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school, but I was (okay, still am) a “worrier” and would fret that I had forgotten everything I had learned the year before. Of course, I hadn’t and every year would start off with reviewing the basics, putting my mind at ease.


Mother and Daughter Quilting Together



With that in mind, let’s GO! back to basics! Whether you’re new to using the AccuQuilt system or a seasoned veteran, it never hurts to go over the basics!


At its core, the AccuQuilt cutting system is a way for quilters to cut their fabric more quickly, accurately, and safely than any other method. This is important for each and every quilter – but why?

  • The more perfectly cut your pieces are, the better your finished project. There’s a reason why we used to always say “better cuts make better quilts!"
  • No one wants to deal with rotary cutter injuries
  • New quilters can experience success on their first project
  • It's a way to keep quilters quilting, even if they have hand, shoulder, or sight issues
  • Sewing is fun, but traditional cutting methods are work, so why not make cutting fun and fast?



How it Works

GO! Dies are constructed with incredibly sharp blades, mounted in a wood base, and surrounded by foam. The foam keeps your hands safe when handling the dies. To make a cut, you lay the die down, foam side up, cover the shape(s) you want to cut with up to six layers of cotton fabric, cover with a GO! Cutting Mat, and put it through any GO! Fabric Cutter. The cutter compresses (or as I like to say, squishes) the foam, so the blades push through the fabric into the cutting mat - it’s that simple.



GO! Me, GO!, and GO! Big Electric Fabric Cutters



Whether you are using a manual (GO! Me or GO!) or electric (GO! Big), the cutting basics are exactly the same. Because the blades are not rubbing against each other, they will never need to be sharpened.



The Mat Makes the Magic

No mat, no cutting! Without the mat to “smoosh” into, there will be no cutting. You can cover an entire die board with fabric, but only the part covered by fabric and a mat will cut! While the blades in the dies will never need sharpening, mats will need to be replaced.



GO! Cutting Mat-6" x 12" 2 Pack



To prolong the life of your cutting mats:

  • Use both sides.
  • Move the mat around on the die when possible to “spread out” the cuts.
  • You will see cut marks in your mat from every cut, but that’s normal.
  • You should get hundreds of cuts from a mat.
  • When you notice your cuts are not as clean as they once were, it’s probably time for a new mat.
  • If you can see daylight through the cracks in your mat, it's past time to replace it!


Here's a quick video with AccuQuilt Cutting Expert, Pam Heller, talking about mats:





Geometric Shapes for Quilting

The GO! Fabric Cutting System is designed for quilting, and since we’re quilters, we know what’s important! Not only do the dies make cutting 90% faster, but here are some of the great built-in features:

  • Built-in 1/4” seam allowances
  • Shapes already have dog-ears removed, so no more tedious trimming is needed
  • Specially engineered dog-eared corners to help line up complex shapes perfectly every time
  • Built-in notches for all curved pieces
  • Two-tone foam, so you know just where to place your fabric and reduce waste



Lengthwise Grain Matters

The lengthwise grain of fabric is the direction that the fabric is woven. It’s the tightest direction of your fabric and runs the length of the fabric, the same as the selvage edge. If you don’t have the selvage left on your fabric piece, don’t panic! You can tell which direction the lengthwise grain is by doing a little tug test. You’ll not only see that the lengthwise grain doesn’t stretch as much as the crosswise grain, but it will sound different, too. The lengthwise grain will make a higher pitched sound as you tug it than the crosswise grain, or as we like to say, “high and tight, low and wonky.”



Grain of Fabric Chart



So, why all the fuss about lengthwise grain? To explain, let’s take a look at a die. This is the GO! Value Die.



GO! Value Die Board



You’ll notice that geometric shapes that have crosswise blades will be set on the die board at an angle. Now, imagine driving your car over a speedbump. Typically, both wheels will go over the bump at the same time, making your car do a little jump, but what if you drove over that bump one tire at a time? Well, you would have a much smoother ride, right?


Much like driving your car, the die is traveling through the cutter. By placing the shape on the die at an angle and lining the lengthwise grain of the fabric up with the shape on the die (not the board itself), your fabric will have a smoother ride through the machine. This, in turn, will produce the best and most accurate cut possible. Here's a quick video with Pam showing you just how this works:






Practice Makes Perfect

Just like any skill, it may take a little practice to get used to die cutting, but the rewards you will earn are picture-perfect quilts and being able to easily complete projects you would have hesitated to even begin before using a GO! Fabric Cutter.


What’s the number one thing most quilters want? More time to do what they love, which is sew, and AccuQuilt helps quilters cut time, so they can quilt more!