A number of people have asked about the Simplicity cutting machine after one of my recent posts. It is available at some – but not all – Spotlight stores and is probably available through patchwork shops since it was designed to be used by this craft.
A cutting machine can certainly speed up your work pace but trying to get good first hand information about how machines work – and how well they do what they say they do – can be quite difficult.
Recently, I was sent some great information from Western Australian rugger, Shelley Pinnell who writes about her experience with the Simplicity cutting machine (sold primarily for use by quilters).
I first bought the Simplicity machine to do patchwork with, but I found that it’s difficult to cut the strips really accurately, which is essential for most patchwork. When I recently decided to try rug making ( long arm quilting is my ‘business’ so it’s nice to do something crafty but different to relax!), I thought of trying the machine to cut the strips with because I have osteoarthritis in my hands and shoulders, so can’t cut for too long with scissors or rotary cutter. (My friend bought me a book on rug making and it explained about using rotary cutters and scissors, and about the purpose made cutters. Expensive!).
Here are a few of my observations using the Simplicity machine:
1. The blade of the machine is not sharp like a rotary cutting blade – the blade cuts the fabric by the pressure of the metal plate under the blade. It’s important to make sure you tighten the screw underneath the blade with a screwdriver, or the machine won’t cut at all. I orientated my screw head at 10 o’clock.
Be sure to buy extra blades for your machine.
2. I’ve cut strips 3/8″ wide – the smallest cut it will do – from old wool and wool/other fibre mix clothing from an op shop. I’ve found the more cutting I do, the more accurate I’m getting, but if it’s not perfect, it won’t really matter for a floor rug. It will cut strips up to 2 3/4″ wide.
3. I have found I need to tighten the upper black screw after 3 or 4 cuts as it loosens whilst the machine is cutting the fabric. It only takes a second to tighten it as it’s a hand screw, unlike the one beneath ( the one mentioned in point 1 ) which needs a screwdriver.
4. I found it’s also important to keep your eye on the guide plate slot where you feed the fabric in – keeping this level also helps accuracy, rather than watching the blade.
5. With the choices of fabric, I’ve cut 100% wool and wool blend successfully. The fabric feed easily into the guide plate slot, which means thick fabrics would not work. I’ve cut up several jackets and a dress, and the weight varied, but all fed into the machine easily. One herringbone patterned wool fabric had some slightly thicker areas but I managed to push them a bit with my fingers as I was guiding it through the guide. I tried a fleece fabric ( my daughter is doing a proddy rug!) and that didn’t feed into the guide too well. Old flannel pajama fabric needed two layers as it was a bit thin to cut cleanly. One fine knitted fabric was too difficult to cut at all – the strip wound itself around the blade inside before I could grab it behind the machine!
6. I’m not sure how long the blades last, but so far I’ve cut about 20 ounces of strips. The other important thing I’ve found is to clean the machine after a while because the fabric ‘dust’ accumulates on the metal bed, around the blade wheel and the compartment below the blade ( that’s what that’s for, to catch bits). I’ve also got a pinking blade but I’ve not used that yet.
7. You can buy a table that fits around the machine to support the fabric being cut. I haven’t got one yet, so I just use some DVD cases to the same height. I think this helps keeping the fabric flat as it feeds through the machine.
It’s a machine worth looking at if you need reasonably accurate strips and you have physical limitations like me.
Thank you for your encouragement in my beginning journey with rug hooking! Shelley
Thank you Shelley for taking the time to write to me and detail your experience with this cutter. If you want to see one of these machines “in person” so if your Spotlight shop doesn’t carry it, you can send them a note through their online shop to let them know you would like a demonstration of the machine through your local shop. I believe that JoAnn Fabrics also carries this rotary cutter.
You can find more reviews of this cutter at: Craft Tool Review
Hope this is useful.