Shape Cut Shines For Fast, Accurate Strips And Squares
The Shape Cut from June Tailor is a clear plastic cutting guide and ruler approximately 16 inches square with many long slits to guide your rotary cutter in cutting strips and other shapes you use in quilting.
The slits are each 12 inches long and run parallel to each other, 1/2″ apart. At right-angles to the slits is a set of 12-inch-long black lines running parallel to each other, 1/2″ apart.
When I first saw the Shape Cut, I figured I’d like it for cutting strips. But after my testing I’ve decided that I like it for cutting certain shapes, too.
A Different Approach To Cutting
The main difference between using Shape Cut and using other rulers is the cutting. To use most quilting rulers you run your rotary cutter along the outside edge of the ruler. Not so with the Shape Cut. To use the Shape Cut, you run your rotary cutter through the slits.
That seems like a strange approach at first, but I found I like it because the Shape Cut eliminates steps, letting me get more done in less time.
The usual steps for using a ruler with a rotary cutter is to align the ruler, make a cut, move the ruler and maybe move the piece of fabric just cut. Then repeat the same four steps over and over until all the fabric is cut. In addition, you have to square up the fabric every few cuts to make sure the strips stay straight.
With the Shape Cut, I align the ruler, make a cut, make another cut, and another, and another until I’ve cut a foot of fabric. Only then do I need to move the ruler.
By eliminating much of the aligning and moving, I can cut lots more fabric in less time. And squaring up the fabric couldn’t be easier — every time I move the ruler, my cut in the first slit squares up the fabric automatically!
My first test of the Shape Cut was to cut strips. I folded my fabric selvage-to-selvage, then again fold-to-selvage. I aligned the fold along the zero (bottom) horizontal line on the Shape Cut. I aligned the raw fabric edge just to the left of the zero (left-most) vertical slit.
My first cut, in the zero slit, automatically squared up the fabric. Then I made a cut in the slits for the size strips I wanted to cut. Since I was cutting 1-1/2 inch strips for a log cabin, I ran my rotary cutter along slits at 1-1/2″, 3″, 4-1/2″, 6″, 7-1/2″, 9″, 10-1/2″ and 12 inches.
Then I picked up the Shape Cut, aligned it to my un-cut fabric as described above, and began cutting at the zero slit again. Zero, 1-1/2″, 3″, 4-1/2″, and so on. I had lots of strips cut in no time.
I used the Shape Cut to cut binding strips too. First I cut straight grain binding. Then I folded some fabric on the bias and cut bias binding strips. Shape Cut is certainly the easiest way to cut many straight strips quickly!
Which Rotary Cutter?
Jean, my friend who lent me this product to review, commented that the first time she used it she felt as though she were cutting the Shape Cut along with the fabric (though she wasn’t). The first time I tried it, that was my reaction, too. So I decided to try all my rotary cutters, to see if any of them would feel any different in the Shape Cut.
Which is the best rotary cutter for this job? Both Jean and I had used the Olfa 60mm rotary cutter. This cutter’s blade is plenty large enough to reach to the bottom of the slits, but it is too big to fit easily into the teardrop openings at the beginning and end of each slit. These openings are designed to make it easier to get the blade started in the slit. Since the 60mm blade is so large, it wasn’t particularly easy to position it in the teardrops.
So I decided to try something smaller — the Olfa 28mm. Because of the shape of this cutter, its blade guard, and its small blade, the cutting part of the blade couldn’t reach all the way through the Shape Cut slit, through the fabric, and to the cutting board unless I held the handle almost straight up, perpendicular to the cutting board. That way the cutting portion of the blade was fully engaged in the bottom of the slit.
But holding the blade in this position was not very comfortable, to say nothing of the effects it would have on my wrist after even a short cutting session. So using the Olfa 28mm was out.
Trying The Fiskars 45mm
Next I grabbed my Fiskars 45mm. The shape of the blade guard and the size of the blade made this rotary cutter much more comfortable to use with the Shape Cut. The 45 mm blade was easier to get started in the teardrops than the 60mm, and the blade could easily reach down to the cutting board and so do a fine job cutting the fabric.
Next I tried the blue Dritz rotary cutter with the automatic retractable blade cover. This was the worst one to use with the Shape Cut. The thickness of the blade cover forced the blade to the extreme left of the teardrop.
When I tried to cut down the slits with the Dritz, the blade jumped out of the slits and rode on top of the Shape Cut. Aside from being dangerous, I actually put a nick in the teardrop trying to get this rotary cutter to work. I decided if I had to work this hard to cut strips, I’d be tempted to throw away the rotary cutter, the Shape Cut, or both.
Then I tried a very inexpensive, generic rotary cutter that I got at JoAnn’s for cutting paper. Since it has a shape similar to the Olfa, it cut about as well as the Olfa cutters. But it didn’t have to be held as straight as the Olfa 28mm. And it was easier to start than the 60mm Olfa.
Quick Change Rotary Cutter, 28mm
Finally, I tried my Olfa Quick Change Rotary Cutter with each of its three different-sized blades. My favorite cutter for working with Shape Cut turned out to be this one, with its 28mm blade installed.
Because of its design, it is more comfortable to use in the Shape Cut than any of the others, and the design allows the blade to cut deeply enough in the slits to easily cut the fabric.
So the Quick Change Rotary Cutter with the 28mm blade installed is the rotary cutter I used for all my other Shape Cut testing and is certainly the one I recommend you use with the Shape Cut.
I guess by now you are wondering what shapes this slotted ruler is designed to cut. Besides strips, June Tailor’s instructions show how to use the Shape Cut to cut squares, triangles, chevrons, diamonds, and hexagons.
The first shape explained is a chevron. The instructions say to fan-fold fabric into a strip of any width. Next, line up the folded strip with either the 45 degree or 60 degree line. Then cut slices off the strip in the desired width. Each slice will unfold like paper dolls to give you a string of chevrons that resemble a bolt of lightning.
While I like the lightning bolt shape, I don’t find this feature very useful in quilting. But I could imagine using it as a design along the hem of a skirt.
The Shape Cut works great for cutting squares. First, I cut a full Shape-Cut’s worth of 2-inch strips. Then, being careful not to move the fabric, I turned the Shape Cut 90 degrees and cut in all the same slits again. Since my second round of cuts was at right-angles to my first, I ended up with 120 perfect two-inch squares in under a minute!
I also like the Shape Cut for cutting diamonds. Cutting diamonds with the Shape Cut works almost as efficiently and easily as cutting squares, with one small exception. It is important to turn the Shape Cut clockwise, not counter-clockwise, to get properly-cut 60 degree diamonds (great for six-pointed stars and tumbling blocks) or 45 degree diamonds (for eight-pointed stars).
I used the tool to put together a baby quilt for a friend who was having a new baby and it worked great.
For a little over $30 you get a tool that will save you hours of work over its lifetime. It is easy to use and works just as advertised.