Tools for Aging Quilters – Part Three

Traditional irons are heavy and most of the time it is sending a “woman to do a child’s job”. After all, most of quilting is pressing seams that are less than 12″. A smaller, more mobile iron is just the ticket. The lighter weight is a big plus. From Steamfast.









Memory also becomes an issue. These ruler stickers from G.E. Design can be used on mats, rulers, patterns, and fabrics. Keep them EVERYWHERE!  Don’t waste time checking measurements for a second or third time….








Last but not least – rotary cutting. The Splash by Olfa offers a quick change blade system that is super simple. You no longer have to take a picture to remember how to put the thing back together – and there are no little parts to deal with!




Although this series is written for aging quilters, young quilters take note!  If you use these tools from the very beginning, maybe you won’t develop the issues that we are dealing with now!

Prepping for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

This blog has two different audiences – and today I am speaking to both!  Quilters – use this holiday season to support your local quilt shop.  Quilt shops who don’t sell machines are historically not as busy this time of year because most of you have already made your gifts and are busy cooking, cleaning, decorating – you get the picture!

How can we make this a win/win for everyone?  As a shop owner, take a minute to look at your shop through your customers’ eyes.  Set up vignettes that will interest everyone!

For those of us who have friends who want to learn to quilt, why not buy them a kit? For instance, the new Stripology Squared #GE-512, ruler by Creative Grids® #CGRGE2 is a perfect companion to the book.  Add a bundle of 10″ squares to complete the package.










Go through all of the books and patterns in your store and “kit” everything that is based on fat quarters and other pre-cuts.  If they require a specific tool or ruler, include that in the display.  And, if you have a sample of it, all the better.  Bringing that sample to the forefront may have everyone looking at it with fresh eyes!

One of my favorite families who quilt buy each other a “kit” each year.  They pick out a project that they know the other will love.  Everyone has a year to finish them – and bring the finished project to the get together the following year.  Past “kits” have included a baby quilt for the sister that was going to be a first time grandmother; a collection of musical fabrics for the piano teacher – you get the idea.  And what a great tradition!  As newbies marry into the family, they are asked to join the group  – and taught how to quilt!  Talk about paying it forward!

And for that beginner?  Have a display of rotary cutters, mats, and rulers as well.  Be sure to include lots of gift certificates so they can buy a beginning class to go to with their new tools.  Be sure to include some beginning patterns such as Yellow Brick Road and kits to go with them.
















Have written copies of your class schedule that starts in January so they can give that as part of the gift!

Now, lets move onto stocking stuffers!  Go through all of your notions, buttons, and embellishments and make a display that is eye appealing!

Last but not least, tell your customers that you are ready for them!  Facebook is your friend!  My best idea?  Ask your customers to come in and fill out a wishlist.  Have them give you their spouses email.  Then, send their significant other an email with the items on the wishlist and prices.  Offer to get everything together and wrap it for them.  Be their one stop shop!!!  And don’t forget to ask them if they want to add a gift certificate to the order.  Believe me – they will be so thrilled they will actually be buying something that their partner wants, that they will be thanking you – and want to repeat this for other holidays!

Ready, set, go!  Wishing you all a great weekend!

Notions Revisited or Improved!

When I travel and teach, I receive multiple requests from applique enthusiasts for a sandpaper board.  Sue Daley delivers!  The sandpaper stops the fabric from slipping when tracing templates and is mounted to a sturdy board so it is the perfect work surface.


We once again carry Klutz Gloves in a medium and large size.  Wear these gloves when rotary cutting to protect your fingers from those sharp blades!



The new kid on the block is this new endurance blade by Olfa.  I can’t wait to try one!  For just a few dollars more, this blade is supposed to last twice as long as the current blades on the market!  Let’s face it everyone, we NEVER replace our blade as often as we should so this puppy is a godsend!

Learn to Quilt – the Perfect Gift

Tis the season when you have an opportunity to introduce new customers to quilting.  Be prepared!  When family members walk in and want to buy something because a relative wants to learn how to quilt, have a display ready.  Don’t forget to include information on beginning quilting classes that will be starting after the first of the year – and gift certificates to classes as well.

Here are a few suggestions which you probably already have in stock!  It is all in the presentation…

There are several beginning quilting books on the market.  This is my favorite because it not only teaches the basics of quilting, it also explains the terminology!  Jeri includes the  “language” of quilting that experienced quilters take for granted such as fat quarters.  Now that is a TRUE beginners guide!


Item #L113350  Retail $24.95

For those who are inspired to learn to quilt by watching Alex Anderson on T.V., her book is always a top seller.


Item #10708  Retail $14.95

We all know that the tools make a difference.  Why not start with the best?  The #1 selling Creative Grids ruler of all time is the 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler.  It spans the width of a rotary mat and is the width of the most common border width – a must have for all quilters.  This should be in every quilter’s sewing room.


Item CGR24  Retail $24.00

Or, why not choose the Stripology ruler?  It is the perfect choice for beginners or those who are afraid of a traditional cutter or may have carpal tunnel issues.  Why not teach them how to cut their rotary cutting time by 75% right from the beginning????


Item #CGRGE1  Retail $54.95

The 18″ x 24″ Olfa cutting mat is the most popular size.


Item #RM-SG  Retail $32.99

This quick change rotary cutter is the best selling rotary cutter…


Item #RTY2C  Retail $17.99

Display these items – or your personal preferences – in one place and let your staff know to recommend these products when the questions arise.  Have newsletters right there so the newbies know how to contact you!  Remind your customers that these are the perfect gifts for THEIR friends.  Why not offer a free class to everyone who brings a new quilter to a class?

Olfa has Revolutionized Cutting Mats!

This is the greatest innovation since the invention of the rotary cutting mat.  Olfa has created a folding mat – which makes your mat totally portable.  Reducing your mat to “half size” means you can take it to retreats and classes easily – and it is easier to protect it from temperature variations when traveling!


The 12″ x 17″ size – Item #FCM-12×17  Retail $49.99


The 17″ x 24″ Size – Item #FCM-17×24 Retail $69.99

The wavy edge interconnects and is seamless when opened.  I got to try one – and seriously – you can’t see it and the rotary cutter went right over it.  A piece of black tape runs the height of the mat so the two halves mesh perfectly every time.

These mats won’t be available until July but order them now so you get the first order.  I have a feeling these are going to sell like crazy to those quilters who travel and quilt!  How could they resist???

Quick Change with a Splash

Am I the only one that didn’t know that OLFA released a reasonably priced version of their awesome quick change rotary cutter???  This puppy retails for less than $20.  The contoured handle is comfortable to use.  And the ribs stop your fingers from slipping but lets you get close to the blade for precise cutting!

Item #RTY2C  Retail $17.99

This new color was just announced and will begin shipping in March…


Item #RTY2CPR  Retail $17.99

Both have the quick change feature.  Replace the blade with one click!  Both us the standard replacement blades (Item #RB45).

Sharp and to the Point!

Olfa is known for setting the bar in the rotary cutter market.  Now they are becoming a presence in the scissor world.

Their latest entry – a 5″ applique scissor is spectacular.  Let’s face it, most quilters don’t use large scissors – it is much easier to use a rotary cutter.  So, this smaller version fills a niche.  It is perfect for handwork!

Item #SCS-4  $24.99

Scissors are designed for right handed sewers.  The large handles are appropriate for both.  And, since I am left handed, I appreciate it.  They are lightweight, sharp and affordable!  In fact, the points are so sharp that they fit into every corner of my current applique project.  Give them a try – your customers will love them!

Teachable Moments – Rotary Cutters

Sometimes when I am teaching a class, I forget how much I know because I actually lived it!  And, in quilting, the industry was forever changed when Olfa developed the first rotary cutter and mat!  The year was 1979 – and that is the year I had my first child and hand quilted my first quilt!

I’m not sure when this technology made it to the U.S., but I will tell you that I was horrified when a shop owner first showed me one!  I couldn’t shave my legs without cutting myself – and she was calmly telling me that I was supposed to put pressure on a “razor blade on a wheel” – and cut through eight layers of fabric at once!

But, after watching her cut out a log cabin quilt in less than an hour, I was hooked.

This article is meant to be a generic article on rotary cutters, but all pictures are of Olfa cutters – sometimes we need to pay homage to the original.  And, when I checked out the top 100 Notions from Checker, all of the top sellers were by Olfa.

Rotary Cutters are available in four sizes:  18mm; 28mm; 45mm; and 60mm.  The most popular size, by far, is the 45 mm version.  The original was #20 on the top 100 list over 30 years after it was invented.  That is truly amazing!  45mm is the width of the blade.  Every quilter I know has this size.  The handle or brand may be different, but the blade size is the same.

Item #RTY2  Retail $20.49

This rotary cutter can easily cut through eight layers of fabric at a time – if the blade is sharp!

The 60 mm version is the largest size made.  I love this larger version to trim quilted projects before binding; cutting fleece or Minkee; and thicker fabrics such as wool and flannel.  You can use it to cut the same fabrics as a 45 mm, so many of my friends use it for everything.  The handle is larger, so as they get older and arthritis flares, this model is easier to grip.

Item RTY3  Retail $32.49

Sometimes, a pattern calls for a smaller blade.  The 28 mm is popular for cutting curves.  The smaller circumference of the ruler makes it easier to cut circles.

Item #RTY1  Retail $14.49

The smallest version is an 18mm.  This is for very small, detail work.  If you need it, the pattern will refer to it – and tell you why you need a mini.  Some customers take it to class, but I prefer to use the same tools I have in my sewing room.

Item #RTY4  Retail $13.49

Until 1999, this was the only style available.  That year, Olfa released an ergonomically correct cushioned handle.  Because of the curve of the handle, the rotary cutter could not just be flipped for right or left handed use.  Therefore, it was engineered so the blade could be switched.

Item #RTY2DX  Retail $28.49

I love this rotary cutter, but when I owned a shop, I couldn’t use it.  I am left-handed and most of my customers and employees were right-handers.  They constantly switched the blade, so I never had a “left handed” version available.  It was my rotary cutter of choice at home, however.  It has a nice cushioned handle and saves a lot of wrist strain.

Enter the newest improvement:

Item #RTY2NS  Retail $32.49

I LOVE this version.  The blade protector is actually two pieces.  Therefore it works for right and left handers without changing the blade.  Expose the appropriate side of the blade with a flip of the switch.  But, if you DO need to change the blade, you can do it one handed!  You no longer have to take apart the washer, screw, bolt, blade, and handle – and then take a picture of it with your phone so you put it back together in the right order.  You don’t even have to touch the blade!

This version – and the ergonomically correct version above are available in the most popular sizes – 45mm and 60 mm.  Both are perfect choices for those customers who are experiencing grip issues with aging.

If you have not re-visited your rotary cutter needs this century, it is time you did!  Your customers will buy what they see you use – and once they use the best, they are not going to go back to the original!  Quality tools are always worth it!

Quick-Change Rotary Cutters put Safety First

Olfa has quite simply invented a better mousetrap – or in this case, a better rotary cutter!  But this particular mousetrap has been improved in every way…the simplicity is genius.  There are only three pieces – the handle, the blade, and that magical little black button.

Item #RTY2NS  Retail $29.99

Obviously, the quick change feature of this rotary cutter is the star of the show.  Simply hold the cutter – blade side down – over a flat surface, and click.  The black button is released so the blade can be quickly, easily and SAFELY replaced!  

The blade protector has been updated too.  It is made in two pieces.  You can choose to expose either side of the blade – so it works for both left and right handers!  This simple improvement makes it the perfect cutter for any classroom setting.   

But, don’t ignore the handle.  The black cushioned grip is weighted and curved  so it fits comfortably in your palm.  The yellow sides have ridges so that you have better control while cutting without having to worry about a finger sliding onto the blade – which is protected by the blade protector anyway!

These improvements also add to the safety of the product.  And, this is a quality cutter from a quality company – Olfa guarantees the handle for life!  It comes in two sizes – 45mm and 60 mm.  The 45 mm is the most popular size but I prefer the 60mm when I am trimming quilts or cutting fleece.

Item #RTY3NS  Retail $44.99

This is the perfect demo product!  But, it is not going to sell unless you OPEN the package!  Keep one by the register and demo the quick-change feature while their receipt is printing.  Actually, you may want to demo it BEFORE you total the sale – because they are going to want one – in both sizes……