My friend, the rotary cutter

I love looking at quilt books with historic quilts. I can spend hours, just turning pages, admiring quilts with precise piecing and intricate quilting. I see the women sitting in log cabins stitching together all sorts of fabric remnants or looking out to the buzz on the streets while doing embroidery on crazy quilt blocks.

I ask myself what they were thinking about when they put stitch after stitch into those heirlooms. Were they happy to create something beautiful that would long survive them? Or was it a tedious task that just fell to their lot because they were women?

Interestingly enough, I always see those women stitching or quilting by hand - things I enjoy myself. I never see those women before my inner eye with a pair of scissors in their hands cutting up the fabric. Or - dear me! - cutting templates from cardboard. Or marking the fabric for cutting out.

I sometimes wonder if I would be a quilter if my dear friend the rotary cutter were not yet invented. I am not at all averse to hand stitching, but just thinking about templates makes me shudder. The fuss just seems too much for me: finding cardboard that is sturdy enough to survive the cutting process but soft enough to be cut into templates, finding an appropriate marking pencil for the fabric I want to use, straining my eyes to find the marking lines again on fabric with busy colours, aligning fabric pieces with diverging seam allowances etc. The list is endless.

So when I was introduced to my dear friend the rotary cutter and his entourage, the plastic ruler and the cutting mat, my future quilting life was safe. Since then, I have led a merry existence with template free cutting and piecing. I love blocks made up of squares, half-square and quarter-square triangles. The fact that you can cut squares of a certain size apart into either two or four triangles that will coordinate perfectly with squares of a different size never ceases to enrapture me (yes, enrapture! ;-)). I can’t say that I was overly fond of geometry in school – I’d say I was rather indifferent. But now when in front of a beautiful quilt mosaic made up of colourful squares and triangles emanating a sort of busy tranquility, I develop a feeling than can best be described as an appetite-like desire to get my hands into fabric and to my rotary cutter.

Quilt around the World reflects my partiality for template free blocks made up of squares, half-square and quarter-square triangles. There is a growing number of projects using template free piecing and a lot of additional information such as book and product reviews, a little excursion into geometry etc.

Do you think that your own work has been influenced by certain tools that have become available comparatively recently? Which technological improvement in Patchwork and Quilting has had the biggest impact on the craft so far? Is it possible that we are overdoing it with ever more new gadgets and nifty materials?