I do all my own cutting
I should get that put on a t-shirt, you know like “I do all my own stunts”. Anyway, I do not have an electronic cutter. Do I let that slow me down? No way. What I do have is a steady hand and an arsenal of cutting tools. With those capable hands I cut out things like this:
Through all this human-powered cutting I have learned a few things to make the job easier. Don’t get me wrong…I still would love an electronic cutter. But until I have a project that justifies the price, then I will stick with my scissors.
First, let’s take a look at my favorite tools. I will explain what I like them for in the tips below.
Tips for cutting by hand:
- Keep your scissors sharp. The easiest way to do this is to keep your fabric scissors and paper scissors separate. Make sure you have a pair of fabric only scissors. Use different scissors for paper and other materials which would dull your fabric scissors. (Note: If you have a husband or kids, hide the fabric scissors…they won’t get it and they will use them to cut open boxes and chip bags.)
- Get comfortable with an xacto knife. For more intricate designs it is a must have. Once you get proficient with the xacto knife it will be just like drawing with a blade. They even make finger-tip xacto knifes that are as easy to use as drawing with your finger.
- For lettering keep your fonts simple and large. You can mirror the text on your computer and print an outline of the letters on the back of decorative paper cut to size to fit in your printer. Then when you cut them out from the paper the lines won’t show on the front.
- Small scissors that fit in the palm of your hand are easier to maneuver. I love my little fabric snips. Contrary to my advise in step 1, I use these to cut everything. They fit in my palm and have short, sharp blades. They have helped cut everything from holes for grommets on the playground canopy fabric to detailed cutting through fabric and paper-backed fusible web for the quatrefoil drum shade.
- When cutting paper, don’t close the blades all the way. The tips of the blade will make a mark in your cut. Instead hold the scissors partially closed and guide them along the cut, never closing all the way. I think they make some special scissors with stoppers at the end to prevent this, if you want to do some serious paper-cutting.
- Short of buying an electronic cutter, invest in some relatively inexpensive tools to make cutting easier. I love my adjustable circle cutter from Martha Stewart, because cutting the perfect circle is hard and this makes it easier. It is basically a special type of knife with a guide to hold it in place as you cut the circle. I love punches too! There are so many available now and with a 40% or 50% of coupon they are not that expensive. Also, be sure to check for clearance punches after every holiday. One of my favorite punches of all time is the corner rounder…you will never want square corners again. I also cannot live without my large paper cutter with a rotary blade…so useful for cutting paper down to size.
In the end, I cut paper and fabric because I love to craft. I cut long before electronic cutters existed and will likely find myself resorting to trusted hand tools even after I have an electronic cutter. There is something pretty therapeutic about watching a chick flick while cutting out a design :)
Do you have an electronic cutter or do you craft the old fashioned way? What is your best cutting tip?