New year, new blade

I began cutting strips this morning for a quilt I’ll be teaching on the Quilt Seminars at Sea Caribbean Cruise in just a few weeks, and I noticed my 60mm rotary blade was, well, shall I say “less than sharp.” For those of you who know me or you’ve taken any of my classes, I’m sure you’ll attest I’m always saying just how important it is to have a fresh, new, sharp blade in your rotary cutter. The rule of thumb to change your blade is this:

  • after you’ve completed the cutting for a large quilt OR
  • after about 6 – 10 hours of use OR
  • sooner if your blade develops any type of burr

I’m usually quite conscientious about practicing what I preach. And although the blade was slicing through my batik fabrics pretty well, it occurred to me I honestly couldn’t remember when I changed the blade last. Perhaps, in fact, maybe it was a bit dull. So…….

It’s a new year — time for a new blade!

I always keep a supply of new blades on hand (which is a great idea, so why not stock up next time you’re at the quilt shop.) My dull blade went directly into a container I keep handy marked “PAPER.” Use these worn blades for cutting wrapping paper, bubble wrap, even thin cardboard boxes.

If you buy those packages which contain multiple rotary replacement blades, have you ever noticed how difficult they are to separate without cutting your fingers on those razor sharp edges? I’ve got a great tip:

Use a piece of scrap fabric or batting to hold the blades to protect your fingers from the ultra-sharp edges. Gently inset a straight pin between the blades (which tend to stick tightly together due to the oil on the metal) and push them apart. Voila!

My blade has now been changed and the rest of my cutting went oh-so-smoothly. Like a hot knife through butter (seriously!) So to all you quilters out there, may I encourage you to start the year fresh with a brand new blade in your rotary cutter? You’ll thank me. Really! You’ll wonder why you waited so long……

  1. I had the same problem! I bought new blades for the class I’m taking with you on Saturday and had to put one in a bit early. 🙂 Still need to cut my background fabric. What a difference a blade makes.

    Looking forward to seeing your quilts at the guild meeting tonight! I’m so jealous of all the quilters that get to take a quilting cruise. Maybe one day I’ll get to go on one.

    • Katie– First, let me say YEAH! I’m so glad to hear you changed your blade (and it made all the difference!) I’m really looking forward to meeting you at the guild meeting tonight — so please come right up and introduce yourself! We’ll have a ball at the class on Saturday, as well. I can’t wait!

  2. Hi Kimberly, I just had to chime in here to say that I LOVE the angel dangeling from your rotary cutter 😉 And yes, I change my blade before I started to cut out those weird circles…

    Hugs, Birgit

    • Birgit –
      I’m so glad you noticed! I adore that angel — and it always reminds me of the VERY SPECIAL FRIEND who gave it to me! 🙂

      No wonder your weird circles were SO perfect… used a new blade!

  3. Boy did you ever drum this into our heads in class! I am the same way about dull knives in the kitchen. I have one old rotary cutter that’s used just for paper or for anything with batting. I find that cuttting batting dulls my blade really fast. I just bought my husband his very own cutter because he had been stealing mine to trim pictures and mats for framing. Both of those cutters are marked in big, Sharpie letters: “NO FABRIC”.

    BTW, has anyone tried those blade sharpeners? I have one, but have not had any success with it.

    • Pat —
      Ha! You remember!!! I love that you gave hubby his own cutter and marked it “NO FABRIC.” Too funny (and wise!) As for those blade sharpeners, I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews, but no one has ever raved about them that they really work. The one time I tried one, I was not impressed. New blades aren’t that expensive (especially if you get them on sale at discount fabric stores with coupons.) I say it isn’t worth the hassle to try to sharpen the old ones. Just my opinion, though.

  4. After I have changed the blade I use a sharpie and write the date on the blade….. can never believe it has been 2 months or what ever time when I change blades, I mean. I change blades ALL the time…. right….

    • Susan — The Sharpie idea is awesome! GREAT tip — thank you so much for stopping by to share! I’ll do it!

  5. Hi Kimberly!
    A fresh start is always good!
    I reposted your blog on my Facebook page ‘Quilters Worldwide.’ I hope you don’t mind!

    • Ilona –

      You’re right — a fresh start IS always a good thing! And are you kidding? I’m tickled you posted the blog on your FB page. Yeah!

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