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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

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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!

CHA SuperShow 2010: Cool Product Demos

The CHA SuperShow was filled with booths and booths of great products and some truly great deals.  There were also some products that are either new to the market, or new to us at Craft Critique.  Here are a couple of cool products we saw at the CHA SuperShow in action.

First off is the My Friendship Bracelet Maker, a cool tool aimed at kids for making friendship bracelets from embroidery threads.  Yes, the same bracelets we made back in the 80s.  What is cool about this gadget is that it eliminates the need to tie one end to your bedpost or attach a safety pin that you secure to your gym shoe in order to hold your threads taut.  It also keeps your threads organized so that you don’t miss a strand.

Here’s Marisa Soltman from My Friendship Bracelet Maker showing us how it works:

Isn’t she just the cutest demonstrator?  And how about our young dashing reporter?

Another cool product demonstration we saw at the Craft SuperShow was at the Martelli Enterprises booth. Scott from Martelli showed us what makes his rotary trimmer and mats different from all the rest. First off, the mats are made from astro turf so that they are bendable and can be heated and cooled but won’t crack or break.  Secondly, due to their unique handle positing, their trimmers can not only cut a crazy amount of fabrics at once but they can also move from paper to fabric and back to paper without dulling the blade.  Oh and did I mention those blades last 3-5 year?!

Here’s Scott to show you how it all works:

We hope to formally review both these products to give you more details as well as a comprehensive review real soon, but in the meantime, what do you think?


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Digital or Hybrid Scrapbooking and Crafting!

Giveaway: Enter to win your own Bamboo Craft Pen and Touch Tablet. Send an email
with your name and address to penscrappers@wacom.com and put “I saw it on Craft Critique” in the subject line. Enter by August 31, 2010. One lucky winner will be selected by random and notified by email by
September 3, 2010.

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Xyron Creatopia (article 3 of 6)

Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs



When I first heard about the Xyron Creatopia at CHA last year, I was really intrigued. A machine that could apply adhesive, die cut, and rotary cut? Wow. And then I was offered the chance to review the Creatopia and try it out for myself.

I’m going to preface the rest of my review by saying that I’m approaching my evaluation of the Xyron Creatopia as a quilter/fabric artist- there will be other reviewers who approach the machine as paper crafters.

So let me first tell you what it does really well. Xyron is known for it’s adhesive and lamination, and as far as the Creatopia is concerned, it continues to do that flawlessly. I tried the fabric adhesive on cottons, batiks, felts, and foams, and the machine applied a wonderful adhesive easily.
I applied the fabric adhesive to these batiks. The adhesive is REALLY sticky when you remove it from the backing paper, and it likes to stick to itself- so be careful! After die-cutting my shapes (more on that in a minute) I stuck them to a baby snapsuit and free-motion appliqued it. I was so impressed that my needle glided through the adhesive without gumming up my needle whatsoever!
I absolutely LOVE the fabric adhesive in the Xyron Creatopia, and it’s my go-to adhesive for my small fabric arts projects from now on!

After prepping additional fabrics, I thought I’d try swapping out the cartridge for the die-cut insert known as the Xyron “Shapez.” This ingenious little insert allows you to take out both the adhesive cartridge and the rollers, and drop in a manual die-cutting machine! The cuts has a span of 6 1/2 inches wide and will accept all dies- even Sizzex Bigz!

Now, I’m going to pause a moment and tell you that the first time I had to take out the rollers I did not have an easy time. The instructions are vague, and I struggled with the Positioning Arm trying to get it unlocked and moved into the right position. I kept worrying that I was going to break it. But then I found this handy-dandy video on YouTube, (Bless you, Xyron people!) and I felt more confident after watching it.

So once I got the Shapez installed, I really went to town trying out ALL of my dies! It cut like butter using the Cuttlebug dies, Sizzix dies, and Bigz dies.

There was a little snagging with my Nestabilities dies, but I solved that my adding a “shim” of the thinnest Foamies sheets.

I got so excited that I immediately had to make something with my fabric sticky-backed shapes– so I stuck them right on a stamped tag and made an art tag:

The fabric adhesive is sticky enough to attach well to the cardstock, too!

Now, again, I ran into one annoying part of the Creatopia- the crank handle, which flips up, occasionally did so while I was trying to die-cut. Usually this happened when I was having to man-handle the machine while running a big chunky die through the Xyron. Another thing to note is the sheer weight of the Shapez insert- it easily weighs 7-9 pounds- so if you have problems lifting, this may be a challenge for you. These factors aren’t enough to make me avoid using the Shapez insert, but it IS something to be aware of.

I had such a fun time with the fabric-backed die cut shapes that I had to sit down at my sewing machine immediately and applique the snapsuit I mentioned above, as well as this fabric postcard!
So now on the last component I was given to try- the Cutz.


Don’t hate me, but I’m going to be honest about this…I really didn’t like it at all.

The first reason I have for this conclusion was installing it. It was difficult to get installed into the Creatopia base, and geez-oh-petes it’s HEAVY. Like 10 pounds heavy. I could quit my gym and just lift this instead! And while I was impressed by the amazing array of cutting wheels (like rotary cutters in a plastic cartridge), getting them to snap onto the rails was also challenging. Even after watching the video, I still had problems getting the tab to “snap” and securely lock into the rails.

Finally, when I got it set up and cutting paper, I tried sliding though quilters’ cotton. No go. It cut only intermittently. Next I fused some freezer paper to the backside of some cotton and tried again:
See those ragged threads? Yeah, me too. It was at this point I decided that I’d just stick with my trusty rotary cutter for fabric projects.

Now, as a fabric artist, I often used Pellon or Peltex, as a stabilizer for fabric postcards, and it cut that very well:

I also tried the Cutz with paper with some mixed results- it worked great on cardstock (after fussing with the rollers), foamie sheets, cardboard, and cork. However, on thin papers, like sheet music, it didn’t work as well. But like I said at the beginning of this review, I’m really narrowing my focus to fabric items, and it’s not my favorite for that.

All in all, it’s a great tool for a fabric artist. The fabric adhesive is awesome, and the ability to swap out inserts and use it as a die cutter will tickle most quilters. It DOES have a huge footprint, so you need a bit of room. But if you’ve never had a Xyron before and want to take the plunge, this is the one to have.

Pros:

  • Base unit is reasonable (about $150)
  • Ability to have 3 machines in one is fabulous for the cross-over multi-crafter.
  • YouTube videos really help the learning curve with installing the components.
  • Adhesives are wonderful.
  • Shapez big enough to accommodate all dies.

Cons:

  • Large footprint (14″ x 22″)
  • Written directions aren’t great.
  • Shapes and Cutz components are heavy.
  • Everything is BIG- the cartridges, etc, and you need storage for it all.
  • Handle can flip up while cranking.

MSRP:
$149.99, adhesive and laminate refills $39.99, Cutz insert $44.99, Cutz cartridges $14.99

GIVEAWAY!
One of our lucky readers is going to win a Creatopia of their very own… tell us what whiz bang ideas you have for the Creatopia, and you’ll be entered to win! One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Xyron Creatopia article (this is 3 of 6), please. Winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, June 26th.

Disclosure

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