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Olfa Prize Winners



Congratulations to the two winners of the Olfa prizes…

RMC said…
Oh how I could use this! I’m still finding round objects around the house for my circles, tracing them, and then cutting them out…so archaic!!


AND


Lillian Child said…
Just recently I’ve begun to notice some arthritis in my hands when I craft for long periods of time. I would SO love to have a product that is ergonimic AND user friendly. This product would allow me to do what I love doing best, only LONGER! Thanks for a chance to win!

If you are our winner, please email your name and address to info@craftcritique.com. Please put Olfa Winner in the subject of your email.
Thanks and Congrats!

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Vendor Spotlight and Giveaway: Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter

Reported by Erika Martin


When I cut a circle, I want perfection. I don’t want there to be any bumps where there shouldn’t be. I don’t want jagged edges or an oval. I want a circle – a perfect one. But that’s been hard to do on my own. I’ve used a protractor when I need an exact size, but the cutting doesn’t always go as I planned. I’ve traced around plates, bowls and cups and the results have never been quite what I wanted. Having the opportunity to review the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter was something I REALLY wanted. Let me tell you….Mama likey!

When I first looked at the cutter, I was stumped as to how something so simple looking could cut circles. It almost seemed too good to be true that there weren’t a million pieces or a large glass cutting mat or big circle apparatus that I needed to use. For real? Just the simple ruler handle, blade, ratchet and spike? No way! It couldn’t be that easy.
The Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter cuts clean and perfect circles from 1 7/8 inch to 8 1/2 inches every time, and it can cut through multiple layers. It has a ratchet mechanism on it for easy turning so you can cut in one smooth movement. The blade is protected by a built-in blade cover for safety and the pivot spike also has it’s own plastic guard for when it’s not in use.

The cutter is designed with both left and right-handed users in mind as well as being designed to reduce wrist fatigue when it comes to needing to cut a multitude of circles for quilting patterns. According to the packaging, the Rotary Circle Cutter can cut cloth, leather, paper, vinyl, film, wallpaper and more. Best of all, Olfa guarantees their handles forever.
The Olfa website has a video demonstration to show how to use the cutter which was so helpful for me, seeing that the packaging only had a small picture on the front that served as instructions (though it did give the web address of the site on the back of the package for viewing a product demonstration). You can also find a PDF file that shows how to change the blade on the Rotary Circle Cutter on the website. The video demonstration actually made more sense on how to change the blade than the PDF did, though.
I took on a really big project for my first try with the Rotary Circle Cutter. My first quilt. Yes, you read that right, this was my first quilt. Quilting has always intimidated me due to the fact that all of the pieces have to be cut and sewn with precision and paper has always seemed to be more forgiving to me. I love sewing with patterns, but quilts scared me. When I thought about a way to use the Rotary Circle Cutter, I thought how easy it would be to make a quilt top with appliqued circles. So that’s exactly what I did.
Here’s a quick video I had my daughter take of me cutting out a circle using the cutter.
One thing that I wish the ruler on the handle had is numbers that mark the inches and centimeters and in between. it can be a bit confusing when measuring. I took care of that for myself by using a fine paintbrush and acrylic paint to mark the inch marks.

I had so much fun moving the measurement slide back and forth without having any certain sizes in mind. This was a great way for me to get used to using the tool without having to be so precise. I cut all different sizes and went through multiple layers of fabric to make the cutting quicker. Here’s the pile of circles that I cut out.
I decided to do a lap quilt since it only required cutting twice on some yardage of 45″ fabric. I left the selvages in place since they were narrow and would eventually be hidden by the side seams.

I spread my top piece of fabric out on the floor and arranged the circles until I got the look I wanted and then pinned them into place.



I then appliqued all of the circles using a zig-zag stitch and going for a primitive look (my kind of quilting) by not worrying about making sure the zig-zag stitched precisely on the edges of the circles. When the quilt is eventually washed, the edges of the circles should fray nicely and give it a homey look.

Because I don’t have a long-arm quilting sewing machine, I went even further primitive and used a needle and embroidery floss to tie off the quilt so the batting wouldn’t shift. I remember one of the quilts that my mother made when I was a little girl and loved looking at all of the little knots on the quilt that she used to tie it off.

The Rotary Circle Cutter was a great way for me to use up my scraps for this quilt and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. The plan is to have it on the couch for whoever wants to cuddle up with it, but my 11-year old daughter is going to summer camp for the first time ever and I told her she could take it with her. That made her so excited and she said that she can’t wait to show it off to her cabin mates. I’m just hoping that it makes its way back to the couch and not into her room. If that happens, I’ll just make another one since this one was so easy.
Now I wonder if she’ll expect me to make her a new quilt every year when she heads off to summer camp!

Next up was a yoga mat bag that I’ve had my eye on in the One Yard Wonders book (click on that link to see the review that I did on this book here on Craft Critique). I’ve even had the fabric bought for a year and sitting in my fabric cupboard. I finally got the chance to try it out because the fact that I needed to cut two circles at 6 1/2″ in diameter had me worried that I wouldn’t do it right.
Using the Rotary Circle Cutter gave me perfect 6 1/2″ diameter circles to use as the bottom of my yoga mat bag.

Pinning the circle was a breeze because the edges were cut flawlessly.


I honestly don’t doubt that this fabric would still be sitting in my fabric cupboard indefinitely if it weren’t that I were able to use the rotary circle cutter to finally get it done.
Now my poor yoga mat can stay clean in its new bag instead of sitting on the floor of the van at the mercy of the kids’ shoes and the dogs’ paws.

I wanted to try out the blade on paper, so I put together a quick shabby chic card using patterned paper and stitching. I cut out several sizes of patterned paper circles on top of a cutting mat. It was a bit different than cutting fabric since fabric has a more give and movement to it than paper does.

My first try didn’t go so well since I wasn’t giving enough pressure on the blade. Second time was perfect.

Here’s my pile of circles ready to go on a card.
The only drawback to cutting paper materials with the circle cutter is that the pivot spike does leave a pin hole right in the center of your paper circle.
Here’s my finished card. A simple stamp with some brown ink on top of one of the circles completed my card.

My last project was a felt covered journal. As you can tell, I like the look of overlapped circles, so that’s what I did with this journal.
I cut out different-sized felt circles, combined with some really small circles that I cut with a die cut machine, and then hand stitched them onto the felt. The cutter sliced through the felt like a hot knife through butter.

The Rotary Circle Cutter retails for $26.99 and can be purchased on the Olfa website. Replacement blades retail for $7.99 for a pack of two blades. If you’re looking for a rotary cutter that cuts larger than 8 1/2 inches, there’s also the Heavy Duty Compass Circle Cutter.
Regardless of the few cons that I found, overall, Mama likey! This will definitely become an indispensable tool in my craft room. I’m already planning some other projects that I want to use this on: bean bags, pincushions, round potholders, and more. With some adult supervision (after all, that blade and pivot spike are SHARP), my daughter and I are going to have some major sewing fun with this tool.

Pros:
  • Cuts easy and perfect circles every time.
  • Ratchet handle for smooth cutting and cuts with one fluid motion.
  • Designed for left and right-handed crafters.
  • Cuts circles from 1 7/8 to 8 1/2 inches
  • Cuts cloth, leather, paper, vinyl, film, wallpaper and more.
  • Reduces wrist fatigue.
  • Blade and pivot spike both have safety guards.
  • Lightweight and simple to use.
  • Olfa has a “forever guarantee” on their products.
  • Super sharp and durable stainless steel blade.
Cons:
  • Measurements on handle are only marked by lines, but do not include inch or centimeter numbers.
  • Product only comes with a small photo diagram on the front of the packaging to show how to use the product. For more information on how to use this product and how to change the blades, you need to access a video demonstration and PDF file on the Olfa website. This is a disadvantage for those without internet access.
  • Pivot spike leaves a pinhole in the center of any paper materials you cut.
GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Olfa have given us gift pack to give to two lucky readers. Leave a comment answering the following question to be entered:

 
How do you cut circles? Does the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter look easier than your current system?

One comment per person per article (this is the fourth of four, over a two-day span), please. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, July 9, 2011.


Disclosure
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight and Giveaway: OLFA Chenille Cutter

Reported by Cassandra Darwin

I was very excited to have the opportunity to review the Chenille Cutter by Olfa, because I have a few crafty family members that recently went through a chenille craze.  I wanted to see what it was all about!  I ended up making a baby blankie for my little girl, and got a number of tips from those experienced chenille makers along the way.  I’ll share everything I learned so you can get started right away. 

 This is the chenille cutter as sent to me – instructions at the bottom of the package look easy enough!

Is it really just 4 easy steps to get soft and fluffy chenille?  Turns out the answer is yes (essentially).
The Olfa website describes the Chenille Cutter:  
Designed for both right and left handed use the revolutionary Chenille Cutter cuts multiple layers of fabric, as well as paper, cardstock, photographs, felt, fleece, and more! Features 4 channel guide sizes for narrow to wide widths and 24 new exposed blade edges all with one click. The ultra-sharp, double-honed edge blade is never exposed for extra safety.”

 I gathered my supplies for this project and opened the package to see what I had gotten myself into.  The included instructions were very concise, and easy to follow.  See below for front and back views.

Chenille Cutter instructions (front)
Chenille Cutter instructions (back)

 There were a few vital pieces of information missing from the packaging and instructions.  The first – what type of fabric should I be using?  TIP – A looser weave fabric that will fray a bit on its own works best.  I used flannel in my project, but linen is another great option.

I decided to do two different chenille blocks so you can see some different results.  Instructions recommended 4-8 layers of fabric, and the tool can cut channels from 1/8″ to 1/2″.  The green block has 8 layers of fabric with channels that are 1/2″ apart.  The pink block has 4 layers of fabric with channels that are 1/4″ apart.

I marked the top layer to indicate where I need to sew and pinned my layers together.

And here you can see that I have sewn the channels and started to use the tool to cut every layer except the bottom one.  TIP – It’s important to sew a fairly straight line, because if you have narrow parts in the channels the tool may not be able to squeeze through.  Luckily it has 4 widths so you can always go down a size if you need to squeeze through a problem area.

I ran into another problem with the way I was holding the cutter.  I copied the pictures in the instructions below, which worked okay (it was the 4 layer piece).

But when I moved to the 8 layer block I kept having trouble with the dial turning on its own, and blocking the cutting blade (see below).

Luckily my aunt saw what I was doing and said that she held it a different way and never had that problem.  So I changed my grip and had much better results.  TIP – Adjust your grip to hold the dial in place while you are cutting.  TIP – It also made my life much easier when my aunt suggested cutting through no more than 4 layers at a time.  So do one cut through the top 4 layers, then one more cut through the bottom 4 layers.  This made it smooth like butter!

 This all went pretty quickly, especially after I adjusted my grip on the cutter and limited the number of layers I was cutting through.  So I quickly got 4 blocks sewn together and pieced together a little blanket.  Put it through the washer and dryer one time and PRESTO!  Like magic I have a fun little blanket with lots of texture for my baby to enjoy.

Note the difference between the two blocks (above and below).  In the end, the green block with 8 layers and 1/2″ channels has a “depth” of about 1/4″and lots of texture.  It’s actually quite heavy because it has so many layers.

The pink block with 4 layers and 1/4″ channels has a “depth” of just under 1/8″ and feels very soft.

I also wanted to share a few online resources that Olfa has to help you with your projects.  They have instructional videos on their website, but I couldn’t get the Chenille Cutter video to load more than 30 seconds.  Luckily the company also posted it here on You Tube.  There is also a great selection of ready to print project ideas and instructions specifically for the Chenille Cutter.
Pros:
  • Small tool, but creates chenille fabric that makes a big impact
  • Much easier to use this tool than use scissors for the same purpose
  • Dial on this tool allows you to adjust channel widths (4 sizes) and gives you 24 sharp cutting edges
Cons:
  • Printed instructions missed some important info (best fabric to use, proper grip of the tool, etc.)
  • Once you use all 24 cutting edges you will need to replace the blade in this tool
  • A bit of an investment at about $30
I really enjoyed using the Olfa Chenille Cutter, and would encourage anyone to try it that is looking to add some texture to their fabric creations!

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Olfa have given us gift pack to give to two lucky readers. Leave a comment answering the following question to be entered:

Would you make your own chenille? What would you create with it?

One comment per person per article (this is the third of four, over a two-day span), please. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, July 9, 2011.


Disclosure


Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight and Giveaway: Olfa Quick-Change Rotary Cutter

Reported by Susie Ziegler

I can’t imagine sewing without an Olfa Rotary Cutter, especially since I prefer sewing in straight lines and rectangles. If you sew and you don’t already own a rotary cutter, you really need to go and get one. You will hardly believe you sewed without it! Olfa first introduced this innovative tool in 1979, revolutionizing the quilting industry. If you can even imagine this, quilting was a dying art in the 1970’s and 80’s until the Olfa rotary cutter caught on. I’d say that as a quilter, I use my rotary cutter more than my scissors. It’s so convenient! With an accurate ruler and a cutting mat, I can cut a whole stack of fabric neatly and evenly into any shape I like.

I tested the Olfa Quick-Change Rotary Cutter and I got to try out the specialty blades on the Olfa Ergonomic Rotary cutter. A rotary cutter works like a pizza cutter; the blade is basically a rolling razor blade.

The Quick Change Rotary Cutter has a split blade cover with two sliding mechanisms that pull back to cut left-handed or right-handed interchangeably.

Olfa rotary cutter blades are made of high quality tungsten steel. They can cut up to 6 layers of fabric and used with care, they will last and retain their sharpness for a long time. Eventually, with time and use, the blade will need to be replaced. You will notice that the blade skips threads or requires increasing pressure to cut successfully.

Time to change the blade! With the Quick-Change Rotary Cutter, this could not be easier. Just pull back the locking mechanism on the back and the blade pops right off.


This blade has only two parts that come off. All I need to do is pop on the new blade, insert the little bolt thingy through the hole onto the cutter (bolt thingy is a technical term) and slide up the lock mechanism and you are ready to go!

I love it! This is so easy! No more little washers and nuts to keep track of!

Store and dispose of blades in the convenient container provided.

Listen though, if you are using a rotary cutter, you absolutely MUST have a cutting mat underneath. My husband used mine to cut some papers for his work and sliced right through the tablecloth and into the dining room table. He actually let the kids take the blame for this mishap until fessing up. My kids know not to use the rotary cutter.

You should also get into the habit of locking your blade after every cut. Apart from being very dangerous, you will greatly shorten the life of the blade if you leave it exposed to knocking about.

The Quick-Change Cutter feels great in the hand and its small profile stores easily. Olfa also offers the Ergonomic Rotary Cutter which uses the same 45mm blade, but it also has a safety button to lock the blade closed between cuts..

Changing the blade on the Ergonomic Cutter requires a bit more care and organization. Don’t lose those little parts!

I have some Olfa specialty blades to try out. Olfa has a Pinking blade, a Scallop & Peak blade, and a Wave blade. None of these will fit the Quick-Change Cutter, I have to use the Ergonomic one. That’s okay, I’ll keep one cutter for straight cutting and another for pinking and decorative edges.

See that yellow washer? It is a spacer that goes on the underside when using a straight blade, but move it right underneath the blade when using the decorative edge blade.

You do not need to use a ruler when cutting with these blades, but you can. Note that the cut edge will be a little bit away from the edge of the ruler:


I used the Pinking Blade on these fabrics and then laundered them. You can see how well the edge held up! I cut them lickety-split. Who needs pinking shears? This is so much easier on my hands!
Here are some felt strips I cut with the Wave Rotary Blade and the Scallop & Peak Rotary Blade. Can you tell the difference? I really can’t. The Wave is more gentle, and the Scallop & Peak is more peaked. The differences might show up more clearly if you use the rotary cutter on paper.

Using these blades, I can make my own felt rick-rack!

I used the wave blade on some felt to make a scalloped edge for this flower. It was so quick and easy. The blade zips right through felt.

Pros:

  • Blades are very sharp, high quality, and durable. Used correctly, Olfa blades and Rotary Cutters last a long time.
  • Quick-Change Cutter is comfortable in the hand and is not bulky for storage.
  • Equally useful right-handed or left-handed.
  • Very easy to change the blade with the Quick-Change Cutter.
  • An essential sewing tool that makes cutting quick, comfortable, and accurate.
  • Safety mechanism is easily engaged.

Cons:

  • Quick-Change Cutter only uses straight blades. It would be great if the specialty blades can be used with this tool. You’ll need to get the bulkier Ergonomic Rotary Cutter to use the decorative specialty blades.
  • Now that you know you have to have a rotary cutter in your tool kit, you are going to have to get a cutting mat too. This starts to get pricey.
  • Be careful! You can get cut pretty badly if your fingers get under the blade. Always engage the safety cover when the blade is not in use, preferably between every single cut.

Check out the reusable bags I made using fabrics cut with my Olfa Quick-Change Rotary Cutter. My husband agreed to model them even though I outed him for ruining my tablecloth.


I made this baby quilt not long ago using shapes cut with my Olfa Rotary Cutter:


I have made countless projects with my rotary cutter: quilts, pillows, curtains, napkins, tablecloths… How about you?

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Olfa have given us gift pack to give to two lucky readers. Leave a comment answering the following question to be entered:

What would you use the Olfa specialty blades for?

One comment per person per article (this is the second of four, over a two-day span), please. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, July 9, 2011.



Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight and Giveaway: OLFA Deluxe Ergonomic Rotary Cutter

Reported by Christina Hammond

image
When you work with fabric, one of the most indispensible tools you can own is the rotary cutter.  And let me tell you, they are not all created alike!  For years I have been working an “el cheapo” model I bought at WalMart the day my Great-Grandma gave me her 50’s era Singer sewing machine.  I didn’t own a single pair of fabric scissors, so I ran to the store and asked the lady there for help.  She tossed that foreign-to-me cutter in my basket along with a little self-healing mat and plastic ruler, saying “Trust me, you need these!”

Boy, what was she right!  That rotary cutter had become almost an extension on my right arm.  I used it everyday, but when faced with a large project like a large quilt to cut, I had begun to dread picking it up because it would, honestly, start to hurt. 

Olfa sent me the Deluxe Ergonomic Rotary Cutter and it has become the new extension to my right arm.  I am very pleased with how comfortable it is to use.  In addition to being ergonomic and easy on the wrist – it has a dual action safety switch.  I can use the switch to lock the blade closed for storage, or to lock it open so I don’t have to squeeze the handle to keep the blade out.  The deluxe system comes in both a 45mm and 60mm size, perfect for most cutting needs.

The blades are sharp and stable.  There is a small Belleville Disc Spring* under the thumb screw that helps maintain pressure.  Even after having used the cutter for a while, the blade doesn’t have a wiggle to it at all.

*admittedly, I had to ask my husband what this was called because I didn’t want to type “curvy washer thingy” for y’all. (Editor’s Note: “curvy washer thingy” is perfectly acceptable).

 Olfa has a great video right on the site – it’s not hard at all.  

To test the comfort of the cutter, I put myself to work on something that needed tons of repetitive slices.  I have so many quilts in progress, so I decided to try a knock-off of all those ruffley pillows I am seeing everywhere.

IMG_0628

This pillow was made with a fairly thick shantung, and I cut about 10 layers at a time with no problems at all.  I used the pinking blade to reduce the fraying.  I *really* like this blade.  Alot.  I made a couple of this style pillow, each taking about 200 3″x5” rectangles.  I didn’t have any pain at all and not a single complaint about the cutting.  YAY!
IMG_0637 While I was sewing, I switched back to the straight (AND VERY SHARP, oops!) blade and whipped out this cute giant bow pillow in no time at all.

Finally, I changed the blade over to the “Wave” blade and cut out 22 pennants for our all purpose “CELEBRATE” banner.  I used this blade because it looks fancy, a bit different than a standard pinking blade and I wanted to make this quick-n-easy.  We’ve used this banner for so many things already, I think I might just leave it up!
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A close up of the edges.  Look how pretty!
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Pros:

  • ergonomic claim is true!  So comfy to use.
  • can be used Righty/Lefty
  • readily available
  • decorative cutting blade available
  • safety lock
  • the handle is guaranteed forever! 

Cons:

  • initially pricey
  • blade replacements are slightly expensive, and the decorative ones only come in one blade packages.
  • a bit fiddly replacing the blades, but easy enough to do if you pay attention

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at Olfa have given us gift pack to give to two lucky readers. Leave a comment answering the following question to be entered:

Have you ever noticed pain/discomfort when using a standard rotary cutter?  Do you think you’d benefit from this Deluxe Ergonomic cutter?

One comment per person per article (this is the first of four, over a two-day span), please. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, July 9, 2011.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter

Reported by Donna Lannerd

Cutting circles in fabric sometimes just isn’t a whole lot of fun especially when you need more than one or need it to really look like a circle. Up to now the easiest way for me to make a circle was to get out a plate or cup and draw around it on my fabric or fusible web paper (if using) and cut it out by hand with scissors. This method is not too bad if you just need one but what about several? This is where this little gadget comes in handy.

The Rotary Circle Cutter is easy to use once you get used to the way it moves around. It uses a rotary blade which makes it easy to cut on fabric. The blade pivots around a sharp tack-like point Olfa calls a spike. The directions on the package don’t tell you how to cut but you can either grasp the black handle and move it around or you can move the back end of the tool. It really depends on what feels comfortable and what size circle you are cutting. I discovered that I like to cut small circles differently than large circles. I also found that large circles are easier to cut than small circles. Price on Olfa site is listed retail $23.29, selling price $18.40

Pros of the cutter:

  • Easy to use though it does take a little practice to keep yourself steady and to feel comfortable
  • Cuts through 4 thicknesses of cotton fabric easily – could of done more but I felt comfortable with the 4
  • Ratchet handle makes turning the cutter easy
  • Cuts acrylic felt very well
  • Blade is very sharp and replaceable

Cons of the cutter:

  • Ruler portion has no markings – you have to measure the distance of the spike to the blade on a ruler to know the size of your circle
  • Largest size is 8 1/2″ – I would have liked to cut placemat size circles
  • You may notice a hole from the spike in the center of your circle (depends on fabric and this can usually just be pressed out with a pin or your fingernail) but if you want to cut paper it will be noticeable.
  • Package instructions don’t really tell you how to cut except for how to measure for the size circle you need.

Hints:

  • Tighten the spike positioner well or it will slip while turning and the cut will be off
  • Don’t rush when cutting. Slow and steady make a more precise cut especially when first beginning.
  • Remember that when you measure from the blade to the spike it is only 1/2 the size of the finished circle
  • The handle also moves (I guess for comfort of position) but if left in the spot farthest from the blade you will not get the smallest circle possible
  • When a blade starts to dull replace ASAP especially if you like to cut several layers. Old blades can be used for cutting paper.

Below are samples of circles I cut. The first photo shows the largest circle (red) it can cut which is 8 1/2″, the smallest circle (in the center) which is 1 7/8″ and the large ring. I cut the ring by first cutting a circle. I folded the circle in half twice to find the center and then after reducing the measurement of the cutter I placed the spike in the center of the cut circle and cut a smaller circle out. (FYI – Target is one of my favorite stores but I did not intentionally make a bullseye.)



This next photo is acrylic felt that I cut out. I really like this tool for cutting felt.


This last photo is from the 4 layers of fabric I cut and then started to make yo-yo circles out of them.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!