It’s Electric!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with hand cutting appliqué shapes or stencils for quilting. Hand cutting designs with scissors (or an Exacto knife) has its benefits, but sometimes you might want more speed or accuracy, especially when cutting multiples of the same shape. Electronic cutters to the rescue!

Sizzix eclips2 is representative of today’s generation of electronic cutters

Electronic cutters have been around for a number of years in various guises. Many of the original versions required that you buy cartridges of pre-designed motifs that could then be resized and arranged at will. Paper crafters were some of the first artisans to embrace this technology.

Pillow created using a Brother ScanNCut

Now, the sky’s the limit. Vicki Anderson explored the capabilities of quite a few electronic cutters in her article Cut It Out! in our March/April 2015 issue of MQU . Today’s cutters allow quilters to use pre-designed imagery, or create their own artistic vision to cut. What are some of the things that a quilter might want to use an electronic cutter for? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Appliqué motifs – Try cutting shapes from fabric backed with a stabilizer (either paper-backed adhesive or lightweight, iron-on interfacing), or synthetic materials that won’t fray, such as non-woven interfacings.
  • Quilting Stencils – Transparencies can be easily cut with these machines to create any stencil you can imagine.
  • Stencils for painting – Transparency material or freezer paper could be used to create stencils for painting your own designs.
  • Freezer paper motifs to quilt around – Rather than marking with a pen or pencil, try cutting out freezer paper shapes, iron to your fabric, then quilt around the perimeter for an accurate line.
  • Freezer paper appliqué motifs – if you enjoy using freezer paper appliqué techniques this is an ideal way to use these machines.

Every cutter is a little bit different. The key to success, no matter what you want to cut, is testing in order to determine the right knife depth and speed to use for your combination of fabric and stabilizer or paper.

Caladium ©Betty Busby March/April 2017 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited
Caladium ©Betty Busby. Betty created this gorgeous quilt using an electronic cutting machine to cut the purple veined areas of the leaves from non-woven material backed with fusible web.

Cutter technology is changing all the time, so be sure and do a little research if you’re thinking about taking the plunge with one of these versatile tools.

Appliqué motifs of all shapes and sizes can be easily created with electronic cutting machines.

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