I frequently get asked how to make rotary cutting easier for the beginner or for the experienced quilter who has joint issues. This can strike anyone at any age as someone who suffered RSI throughout my 30s and 40s quite severely, holding a quilters ruler steady whilst cutting can be difficult. My son’s girlfriend has been staying with us for a while and I recently taught her to make her first quilted cushion – she’s now obsessed and has 30 projects lined up but she struggled with rotary cutting due to weak wrists, as she put it.
But what can we do about this? Sew Easy have a product they kindly sent me to try to see if it makes it easier to hold a ruler steady whilst cutting. When I opened the box I found it smaller than I’d imagined – but that’s not a bad thing. It’s much easier to store and pack to take to workshops. Some others I’ve experienced are very large lumps of plastic which, although work, can be heavy themselves and a pain to cart around.
The Sew Easy Quilters Ruler Handle is roughly 4″ long with two suction cups to attach it to your plastic rotary ruler. The idea is that it spreads the load of the downward pressure you apply whilst cutting, giving a firmer hold.
The handle is ergonomically shaped to allow the fingers to rest naturally and is quite comfortable. Although, I frequently used it with my hand resting on the top, again comfortable. I found the suction cups stick best with a little water to dampen them and were also easy to remove by lifting the edge with my fingernail.
Then it came to trying it out – would it work, holding the ruler firm, as I cut fabric? My first fabric cut was a narrow sashing band from a full width of fabric. I was cutting 1 1/2” strips and I did find it was best to move the handle closer to the edge when dealing with such narrow strips. ( But I was cutting through eight layers to really test it! I normally only cut a maximum of four.)
The only problem with this was that the measuring line I wanted to see was under the handle and a bit tricky – but I wouldn’t normally cut like this. My only other criticism was that it was a little wobbly when used with my long 24″ ruler. I found it most useful with my smaller rulers which I usually favour for cutting down the width of fabric strips I’ve already cut with the larger one.
Moving on to a less extreme test, I began cutting for a beginner sampler quilt I am assembling ready for my new workshop at Strictly Quilting HQ.
This less extreme test, cutting a sensible number of layers was successful. It certainly helped in holding the ruler straight. I cut a variety of strips and smaller pieces and found the more I use it, the more comfortable I am with it.
Overall, this is a useful addition to your rulers. It certainly lessens the stress on the wrists and I’ll keep it handy from now on.
Special thanks to Groves for providing the Sew Easy Quilters Ruler Handle for review.