Friday, 26 August 2011

Groovy Baby!

Oh dear! With this gloomy, rainy weather, we're hardly ending August and entering the Bank Holiday on a high note, are we? Good job then, that after the disappointment of yesterday's "the postie came and you were out" card, that ding dong went the door bell this morning and there was Mr Postie with a very large box for me. Oh happy days! You see, I had a good idea of what might be coming in the big red van, courtesy of the lovely folks over at Accuquilt.

Have you seen this new innovation before? It seems to have made quite an impact on the quilting community. I saw the Go cutter at the Festival of Quilts recently, in fact it had been on my mind since I saw them last year. I chatted with the very nice American lady on the stand who suggested I got in touch with the Accuquilt folks and they kindly offered me a "Go!baby" cutter to trial and share with you here on the ole' HenHouse blog.

The idea is simple: the Go!baby is a die-cutting machine so instead of cutting all the necessary pieces for your quilt top either by hand with scissors and templates, or with a rotary cutter and mat, you let the Go!baby do the work. It is both a time saving device and a highly accurate way of cutting your pieces, as we know, the greater your level of accuracy, the better the quilt and I have found, the more pleasurable it is to make. There's nothing more annoying than trying to cobble together pieces which don't fit exactly and ending up with a less than perfect result.

There is a very wide choice of dies (that's the black coloured item in the photo above), these are the cutters, you combine the die with a mat (which can be used for any die and is the transparent board above) and away you go. I chose three dies to try out and was most keen to go at it with the tumbler die. The tumbler is a very traditional quilt design but would be very laborious to cut out using a template and scissors by hand. I don't do laborious!

First, you need to cut your fabric to fit the shape you are cutting out, so it will fit on the die and there will be minimal wastage. For this die, I found it ideal to cut the fabric 9" wide by 11" long, that way, the fabric can be folded in two before being fed through the Go!baby cutter. Have I told you the best thing about the cutter? It seems it's very popular with the more junior members of the household! Reader, I have an apprentice!

My apprentice (aka The Munchkin) found that it was easy to layer up two lots of fabric, so in fact, we were cutting through 4 layers of fabric at once. The results were nigh on perfect, the need sometimes to snip the odd stray fabric thread depending on the fabric being cut and the number of layers, but by the end, we pretty much felt like Go!baby pros! As you can see from my able assistant, you place your fabric on the die, position the cutting mat on top and by the turn of a handle (I suspect the Apprentice likes this bit most), the whole lot goes swiftly through the cutter and comes out the other side. The first go took a little bit of force, I guess because it was a new machine but from then on, it was very easy to whizz through with little effort.

Imagine the Apprentice's delight when out come perfect tumblers! All this and the promise (ok, bribe) of a bit of pocket money too!

We found there was very little waste, such that there is, is in a pile to be sent to my sister who loves working on miniature quilts and is always a willing recipient of my odds and ends, the smaller the better! (We cut 12 tumblers in this instance and had the wastage you can see in the photo below).

I would say in about two hours, we had a very large pile of tumbler pieces, in fact we had cut 154, all in beautiful 1930's style fabrics. They are mainly Japanese by Lecien and Atsuko Matsuyama, with a bit of "Red Rose Farm" thrown in for good measure.

The Accuquilt folks made it easy for us by even including a pattern for a tumbler baby quilt on the packaging which accompanied the die. So, we've cut out our pieces and I'm raring to go!

I think the cutter comes into its own for shapes like this. I'm happy enough cutting basic squares and strips by hand (though I wouldn't rule out using the Go!baby), but for more complicated shapes which need to be drawn round then cut out with scissors, this system is undoubtedly a God-send. It's also brilliant for those who find using a rotary cutter and mat too hard on their hands and wrists as this system requires less effort or pressure on those body parts.

There's loads to mooch at on the Accuquilt website, you can even download a die wishlist which seems a very dangerous (but desirable) option to me! I can see my Christmas list starting early! You can also download 22 fabby quilt patterns to use for free just by giving your email address. Have a gander here for the free downloadable patterns and lots of inspiration.

Just before you start hating me and thinking I am the spawniest girly in the world for having this fabulous goody for free, hang fire and watch this space because you'll get your turn, my dear readers. What was it my mum told me so frequently when I was a nipper, "all good things come to those who wait". I believe it now, I certainly didn't then!

Now, I have 154 tumblers to sew together and you can be sure I'll be showing you the result very soon. Have a faberoony weekend!


  1. Well I'm off to investigate that! If Munchkin can do it then so can I! It does get a bit tedious having to cut fabric by hand after drawing round templates!
    Perhaps I should investigate before I cut any more fabric!
    Julie xxxxxxx

  2. What fun. I can see the Munchkin will be working his way through yor stash - watch out!

  3. Bet Mr Postie was met with the biggest smile. Look fun, off to check out the links :)

  4. The Munchkin certainly looks to have enjoyed his apprenticeship. A very useful machine for quilters, I can imagine anyone would enjoy using it, seems to make the job very easy. Particular boon for those with dexterity problems.
    Looking forward to seeing the new quilt.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend despite this pesky rain.
    Carol xx

  5. I have had lots of fun with my Go! Baby, too (even without an apprentice) - good to see you join in the club!

    Pomona x

  6. Very tempted by one of these as I hate cutting out!

  7. What a good idea.your blog always looks so pretty and quilts beautiful.Love Jill xx

  8. I watched them demoing this at the Festival of Quilts too, and was very impressed. Cutting fabric precisely does take time and the RSI in my right hand doesn't help at all. I shall have to look further into it and will watch you with interest!

  9. Think I know what to put on my Christmas list now. What a great machine.

  10. ooh I want a Go! baby ! Have a fabaroony weekend too!juliexxxx

  11. I used to have three little helpers, but as they've got older, they've kind a wandered

    I think your little helper is a star! He's always so happy (or seems to be ;o)to pose for your photos.
    I love it when you all dress up, as he always looks so dapper too!

    Those Accuquilt dies look fabulous! You are one lucky lady Hen.

    I can't wait to see your newest quilt made with these die cuts.

    I hope you all have a fabulous bank holiday weekend.
    Take care now.

  12. What a brilliant gadget! My goodness Hen,you turn out these quilts FAST! Looking forward to seeing the next one. :0)

  13. As per instructions, I popped over to the Accuquilt website for a lovely little browse - oh the possibilities! I am notoriously and frustratingly inaccurate with my cutting out (and, I confess, my sewing). I can't wait to see the finished tumbler block quilt. I wonder if The Munchkin will be designing and creating his own quilt before too long. XXX

  14. Wow, what a clever design. I have yet to make a quilt, but can see how the process would be much easier with one of these die cutters.

    As always, you've made a brilliant choice of fabrics. Your apprentice is also brilliant.


  15. What a clever idea,i could do with something like that , it would certainly beat my cardboard template!

  16. I read about that machine in an American blog only yesterday...that's spooky. Can't believe how little wastage there was. Looks like a good gadget.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing your new quilt.

    Dawn x

  17. Looks like a fun day was had by all!! love the tablecloth on your work bench is it a Cath kidston fabric? Lucey x

  18. Oh, what an amazing machine! I have never seen something like that! Kindest regards

  19. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this with us Hen. I've been dreaming of something like this that can cut out fabric hearts for months! I'm eager to see more.
    Now where is my Christmas list...

  20. Oh how I love your Munchkin. He has such a Joie de vivre. However, the main reason I read your blog is that you always have a joy in everything you do whether it be gardening, stitching, cooking or just appreciating the beauty around you.

    You are so uplifting and you always make me smile. No gloom or doom from Hen. Bless you.

  21. I love your blog and seeing your projects take shape. And I love seeing photos of the vintage fairs I cannot get to. Please keep it up!

    In a couple of old posts about vintage events you say that dancing started and you didn't join in. Have you thought about sending your Munchkin to dancing classes? They seem very popular for boys at the moment. There are a couple at my daughter's school who made me think of you. Just William used to after all!

  22. I love it..your post is great. I would love to quilt but haven't made the attempt. Well I did do a baby quilt long time ago. This seems like it would do just fine for a beginner as well. Is that the only template it gives you that one pattern or are there others? Your apprentice looks like he indeed enjoyed it...Happy Wednesday..Janice

  23. I just thrifted a new-to-me sewing machine this weekend off a driveway and now I think I need one of these to get me started on a proper project! OK, it looks fun just to cut the shapes for someone else.

    I came over expecting to see a "Twinwood Cars" post but that seems to have disappeared.

  24. Looks like an amazing piece of kit - have been interested in die-cutting for ages now and this seems very nifty indeed! G

  25. I can see this would revolutionise quilting! Especially if your hands hurt from having to cut out lots of shapes, what a brilliant hand saver. And yes, it's obviously so fail safe you can get a small size assistant to help, and not be worried about how it turns out, it should be described as a family activity enabler shouldn't it! I LOVE the selection of fabrics you've cut out, and I'm so pleased that this device enables you to concentrate more on the creative aspect of quilting, and less on the laborious cutting out bit. Wonderful, Hen. Vanessa xxx


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