Amy at Park City Girl asked this question today: As a quilter, is there anything you have learned, that you wish someone had told you? Yes, as a matter of fact, there is! As I glance over at my pile of unusable quilting supplies I say again, emphatically, YES!
When I first starting sewing for a hobby last year I was reading blogs and instructions and seeing the cutting mats and rotary cutters. After spending two hours cutting out 10 five inch squares with my scissors, marking pen and a yardstick I decided it was time to try these out. I didn't really understand how they worked and I didn't want to go overboard in the expensive supplies department so I went to Walmart and purchased a tiny little mat set that came with a small ruler and cheap rotary cutter. The mat was hard and only six inches wide. After only a few attempt to use it I realized with was just unusable because it was way too small. Then I went out and bought a giant self-healing mat at Joanne's and a bigger ruler. That was a lot better but my ruler constantly slipped while I was cutting my fabric. I tried gluing non-slip pads on it and buying different size handles to hold it but to no avail ... still slipped all the time ruining my cuts. And to top that off my rotary cutter constantly bunched up my fabric. Finally got a nice new large rotary cutter with some replacement blades. Ahhh ... that part was much better but still the slipping problem. When I was at a quilt shop one day I mentioned to the woman cutting that my ruler slipped all the time and she said, "Why don't you get a ruler with a lip at the bottom to hold it in place?" Why don't I?? I didn't know they made such a thing! I went out and bought one immediately and viola! No more slipping problem.
I have two friends at work that are starting quilting and the first thing I told them is to go right for the big mat, the nice rotary cutter with some fresh blades, the ruler with the lip, and the big handle from the hardware store meant to stick on a bathroom wall. They think I'm so wise! I feel great that I can guide them a little, but I don't feel that wise when I'm thinking about all the money I spent on items that are useless to me now.