“Close your blade!”

Anyone who spends any amount of time sewing with me will hear this, and hear it constantly if you’re one of those people who leaves your rotary cutter open when you put it down.

If fact, last week, at my quilt guild’s lovely charity sewing day*, I got told by a member that I was being micro-managing because I was being a hawk about open blades.

Well, I am a hawk about open blades, ESPECIALLY in a group setting. This particular group had over a dozen people in it, and we were all wading through piles of scrap strips to make string blocks. Imagine what would have happened if an open blade was buried under the strips someone grabbed. Yep – there could have been an injury.

Getting hurt on your own turf, and through your own misfortune is one thing, but taking your bad habits to the quilt store is negligent, and let’s face it, somewhat arrogant: you are more than welcome to risk your own hands, but please don’t risk mine. I need both of my hands to be fully operational to run my business and enjoy my life. You have no idea which medical conditions your friends might have that can be compromised or exacerbated by a cut. And let’s face it, NO ONE has time for an inopportune injury, and I daresay the unexpected medical bills that would accompany it will give most of us a bad case of the sweats, if not kill off the next fun thing we’re saving for.

We obey plenty of laws for the common good, so adding a good blade closing habit to your skills shouldn’t be something to resist!


I’ve had several friends do battle with rotary cutters and lose big time. One friend recently gashed her palm while changing blades and was off work for the better part of a month over it. Another had to see a hand surgeon to re-attach a finger tendon that got sliced right through (did you know that those tendons can snap back up into your forearm?) Several friends have had stitches. Personally, I sliced the side of my finger off one night when I was working late (and tired) and because I was on blood thinners at the time, it took over an hour to get it to stop bleeding. And that finger is still skinnier along the side I sliced.

Rotary cutting is a major innovation for quilters, but these blades are dangerous and need to be respected.

I was fortunate to be taught by a great teacher who made sure that we learned to close the blade from the very first class. If you can’t get your head around closing the blade you MUST buy a cutter that will do it for you. There are good cutters out there that will close automatically when you release them:




Olfa makes this one – you squeeze the handle to uncover the blade and it retracts when you let go.



And Dritz makes this one – it’s pressure sensitive, so the guard goes back as you press down to cut (and FYI, if you dropped this on your foot the blade would probably come out and cut you – so you’d be better off learning to close your blade on one that can’t do that!)







And for my tips on maintaining your rotary cutter, read this post Slicing, dicing… and oiling.

* More about this to come… I’ll be interviewing the amazing woman who runs our charity sewing it in the next couple of weeks.

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