Welcome to my leg of the book tour for Ebony Love's much anticipated debut book "The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips" :)
Before we go any further I'd just like to say that unlike all of the amazing book tour stops before me, I'm not a professional/expert die cutter or quilter! I'm just your average 30-something stay at home mum who fell into die cutting rather like I fell into quilting - straight in the deep end and working it out as I go along! But the fact that *I* am not a professional is really unimportant, because as you'll discover (if you don't already know), Ebony is THE "go to" girl in the fabric die cutting world.
I wish that there had been a book like Ebony's when I was making my first foray into die cutting 12 months ago. My son "outgrew" his baby quilt, so I decided that it was time to make him a new one. I found some Harry Potter fabric squares on ebay (he's only a little obsessed!) and then went on to think about how I was going to put it all together. In Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine I'd seen ads for the Accuquilt GO! cutter, which ultimately led me to research it a little online and decide that I needed the GO! (as opposed to the Baby) and the Drunkard's Path die. I'd seen this cool idea for a Split Drunkard's Path star block online and I thought it would be a perfect way to use my Harry Potter fabric. I did some price researching, and while it was cheaper in the US, the shipping to Australia would cripple me, so I sucked up the price difference and found a place over here that had a pretty good price, and as it happened, a sale on dies! Hmm.. surely I needed more than just the Drunkard's Path? I managed to convince my husband to order me the Double Wedding Ring, the Rose of Sharon, the Tumbler and the 2.5" strip die (the strip die was an after thought, but it was $58 down from $85 for the GO Baby compatible one, so I couldn't go past it!).. and then I snuck in the Sunbonnet Sue die when he wasn't looking.. Turned out that ordering the Tumbler die was the best thing I did for that quilt, because the fabric squares were too small to use with the Drunkard's Path die. But I found a way to make those stars anyway!
And that 2.5" strip die I bought just because it was on sale? Best. Die. Purchase. Ever. I use it with EVERY quilt I make (sometimes for sashing, ALWAYS for binding!). Ebony outlines a whole range of other things you can do with the strip dies, including cross cutting the strips to make diamonds or squares. I also picked up a few tips on continuous borders by cutting length of fabric (LOF) instead of width of fabric (WOF). Other sized strip dies are definitely on my "to get" list!
If I'd had Ebony's book before buying my GO!, I think that the section on choosing which die cutter to suit you would have been invaluable. I love my GO! but there are times when I wish I had something larger, like the Big Shot Pro - especially because it has the flexibility of using other brand dies (including the Accuquilt ones) which my GO! does not. I love Ebony's clear, concise comparisons of the features of each cutter, the number of dies available, the die compatibility of other brands etc. Having it all right there in an easy to read format makes it much easier to make an informed decision.
Recently I've been pondering the purchase of a smaller machine because while my GO! *is* portable, it's quite heavy and cumbersome when I'm also trying to carry bags filled with fabric and my sewing machine when I go to guild meetings etc. I'd naturally considered the Baby GO! because it will fit all my dies (except the DWR), but after seeing the Sizzix Big Shot at the Craft Fair a few months ago I've been in a quandary. I loved some of the dies that Sizzix offered (like the multiple same size hexie dies) but I wasn't sure that I wanted to invest in a new system, especially given that the Big Shot will only work with my 5x10" dies (which rules out almost all the dies I currently own).
After reading Ebony's comparison section, I'm seriously considering the Big Shot. After all, I'll still have my GO! so it's not like I won't be able to use my 6"+ Accuquilt dies, and I could just take my GO! on those occasions when I need to use the dies that are too big for the Big Shot. Additionally I'd also have the opportunity to purchase Sizzix and other brand dies that catch my fancy.
Don't think that just because you've already got a fabric cutter that you won't need this book - I picked up so many tips and ideas when I read through it. Some of them were so simple that you'd think they were obvious, and yet it had never occurred to me that I might be able or need to do some of those things. I'd never thought about checking my dies for accurate cutting by using paper to do the first cut, or even filing those paper pieces for future reference (eg using applique cuts to audition placement on blocks etc).
There is something in The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips for everyone. If you don't have a die cutter but are thinking of purchasing one, you should read Ebony's book before you make any decisions.. and if you already have a die cutting machine and want to learn how to get the most out of your die cutting experience then you won't be disappointed! I can't wait to get my hard copy so that I can make a few notes in the convenient sections Ebony has peppered throughout the book - perfect for all the extra tips I've been picking up over the course of the book tour!
Don't forget to check out all the stops along the way - there are even a few chances to win yourself a copy of the book! If you'd like to read an excerpt, Ebony has one available here :)