Saturday, September 16, 2017

Its a Maker: One Quilter's Comparison with Die Cutting

Well, my amazing Cricut Maker is totally AMAZING! Yup...I love her more than any Cricut I've had and I've loved them all! I'd like you to meet her now, too.

Introducing "Maizie" Maker!

She has merited her name, meaning "pearl," which she really is....a jewel with many talents and strengths. My absolute favorite is her amazing rotary blade. Maizie's been a busy maker and is quickly becoming my quilting companion.

I have been asked why "Maizie" Maker is taking this position. Up until now, it has been my die cutting system for quilters; it has traveled with me and been the start of almost all of my quilts. As much as I love it, it has limitations. The dies are very expensive, and, despite my collection I often do not have the one I need either at home or locally. Dies are static sizes meaning that all of my quilts are based on an eight inch block, unless I invest in the dies that make a nine inch block. But, with "Maizie" Maker, the blocks I can create and cut are limited only by my imagination. 

At first I was concerned with the Maker's cutting speed and cutting of a single layer of fabric. My die cutter can handle 4-5 layers of fabric at a time and will cut several of the same shapes at once. This takes very little time. As I have used her, I have found "Maizie" Maker to be no less quick in her cutting.  The photo below was cut in no time at all. In fact, I didn't have the chance to start the timer! 

I've been very impressed by the true shapes "Maizie" cuts. Squares are square; triangles are just that. I may get the same result with my die cutter, but specific shapes require a specific die. With the Maker, it is possible to cut any shape from the same fabric (the light below) at one time; a time saving feature for sure! Just as when using my die cutter, I know that cleaner cuts are made when I take the time to prep my fabric. I size and iron each piece of fabric that I will use; this decreases the fray and the static. Despite the prep, with my die cutter I often have some shifting of fabric and always static! With the pink fabric mat, there is no shifting and definitely no static! It is a wonderful thing! Some fabrics are simply going to fray. I have to pick the threads out of my die blades to avoid damaging the blade. It is tedious, but necessary. Threads are left on the Maker fabric mat, but they don't seem to bother the cutting process. I have heard many ways to take care of this mat; I simply use a baby wipe without any chemicals when I am finished. The left behind fibers literally wipe off. My mats are well used and still sticky! 

At first I was a little discouraged that I could only cut a 12" width of fabric. I was worried that this would be limiting; I have not found it to be so! In fact, the Maker width is 2" more than my die cutter maximum width. Okay, I'll be honest---as a quilter I would have LOVED to have the machine handle the 18" fat quarter---but that can be a dream for another day! Even with my die cutter I have to cut fabric down to a width that the die machine can handle without blocking the rollers. In my opinion, it is much easier to cut the fabric width for the Maker! A 12" square ruler, hidden in my stash is perfect for this task! And, I now have a bin of fabric that is ready for "Maizie" Maker to sub-cut into usable blocks. 

It is said that the proof to excellent shape cuts is actually the finished product. I know that the thread I use, the seam allowance as well as the fabric can impact the finished size of my block. I use Aurafil for piecing my shapes as it is a thin, strong thread that blends beautifully. I also have experimented and determined the placement of my machine needle so that I get a scant 1/4" seam. I did not bother to change anything when stitching my blocks cut on the Maker. I was blown away! For the first (yes, you read correctly) time in my life, a block planned to finish at 9 1/2" cut finished at 9 1/2" cut! Despite the fact that the die system I use claims a consistent seam allowance, I have not found that to be the case. I am always adjusting my needle position on my machine to get the size block I had planned to have. With "Maizie's" block---no adjustments necessary! 

One of the truest tests of accurate cutting is the ease with which corners and points match accurately. 
I'll be honest, I am not a perfectionist here; close is good enough. But, I believe this attitude developed because no matter how hard I would try, my die cut shapes would not intersect accurately. Happily, I may need to rethink my stand. The shapes created with "Maizie" Maker went together easily and perfectly! My block has sharp points! My corners are spot on! I couldn't be more excited!

Yes, "Maizie" Maker is definitely becoming my quilting companion! She is truly a gem in my quilting life and my craft room. Thank you Cricut for this amazing Maker of crafts! 

Until next time, "keep sorting those scraps so you can generate your gems!" 

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