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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!