I Got An AccuQuilt GO! Cutter!
I had heard a lot about the GO! cutter when it first came out, because Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims are spokespeople for it, with promotional videos on The Quilt Show site. While I’ve long been intrigued by fabric die cutters, ever since first visiting the fabulous home quilting studio of a guild friend who has the Accuquilt Studio cutter, I didn’t really think of it as being a priority item for me. I thought maybe it might be worthwhile for someone who does an awful lot of applique, but I don’t, and on the odd occasion when I do, I tend to design my own. So while I was glad to know there were die cutters in the world, I didn’t really covet one.
Until… I had stopped by The Finishing Stitch on my way home from a wedding the day before Mother’s Day, and they had a Studio cutter and dies for sale for $600, listed as a $1500 value. A discount that steep is always going to pique my interest, but Finley was getting fussy so I didn’t investigate in depth. However, I started thinking about it more on the way home, and therefore spent some time on the Accuquilt website over the rest of the weekend. The main thing that I learned was how many piecing dies are available. As I am primarily a piecer, and cutting fabric has always struck me as tedious, this was very intriguing. Although a separate die is necessary for each different size or shape, I certainly tend to use certain shapes and sizes repeatedly in my projects (2″ finished half-square triangles certainly spring to mind.) And the idea, reiterated over and over on the website, that die cutting is “up to 90% faster than rotary cutting,” was extremely attractive to a full-time-working mom of two children under 3.
After all, although I know it’s an all-too-temporary stage, I don’t have a whole lot of free time to quilt right now. It’s a trade-off I’m more than happy to make to be involved in Ronan’s and Finley’s young childhood, but I don’t want to completely swear off quilting right now. (And several of the quilts I’ve made in the last few years have been for them, and they enjoy using them!) So anything that speeds the process without decreasing my artistic freedom or my enjoyment of the process is a good thing. I have no interest in using pre-cut kits because my favorite part of quilting is selecting the fabrics, but if I can choose my own fabric and then fast forward to the construction stage without spending such a long time cutting the fabric into pieceable shapes, I will get a lot more done. Additionally, I haven’t wanted to do much cutting when Ronan is awake, because I have an absolute paranoia that he could get hold of the rotary cutter. While there are still blades in the die boards, he would have to do handstands on them in order to hurt himself with them.
So Monday morning, I called Jean… and she told me that she was sorry, she should have taken the signs down, because she was selling the Studio cutter to the new owner of the shop as part of the shop sale. Having just spent the last 36 hours convincing myself that I desperately wanted this thing, it was definitely a letdown. But like Aesop’s fox with the grapes, I quickly recovered by realizing that the Studio would not have been the right choice for me. While it can cut more layers at once, and the dies are more numerous, varied, and larger, the dies are more expensive and the cutter requires a dedicated space, as it is heavy and does not fold up. It really seems like the good folks at Accuquilt really thought about all the factors that prevent quilters from buying a Studio cutter, and designed the GO! to meet those needs. I took my time researching the products and prices (another GO! advantage, as the Studio and its dies are only available through Accuquilt), then finally pulled the trigger in mid-July.
My GO! came in the mail July 23, the Tuesday before my mini-retreat at my house with Rhonda and Diane. I bought it from quilting-warehouse.com which offers significant discounts (30-50%) on the GO! and several selected dies, and although the shipping was expensive and the order took longer than their stated estimate to process, I cannot complain in light of the overall value. I got the 12″ block “mix and match” bundle, which is a collection of eight dies for shapes commonly found in 12″ pieced blocks. I also got some extra cutting mats, the 8.5″ rag square, which precuts the fringes for rag quilts (more on that later), the Funky Flower applique shape, and the 3.5″ mini tumbler, since I’m getting a new niece and a new nephew this fall who will each be in need of a baby quilt. With shipping, this all came to less than $450; accuquilt.com lists the cutter with the 12″ bundle alone at $581.90.
I spent all my work time at the retreat cutting: I cut almost all the pieces for the 2011 Shop Hop blocks; cut down several pairs of Dan’s old worn-out jeans to make a denim rag quilt; and cut 17.5 yards of solids into triangles for the guild challenge this winter. Although I didn’t get to work uninterrupted (see above re: two children under 3), I estimate that it took me less than 3 hours to cut all that solid fabric, so I stand convinced.
I’ve only started piecing the shapes I cut, so I can’t say anything definitive, but so far the accuracy seems excellent. There’s definitely a learning curve to using the cutter, but I’ve caught on quickly. And if using it means I get to spend more of my admittedly limited time on the parts of quilting I enjoy more than cutting fabric, I’m all for it.
Next up, a project I’ve already started and completed with my GO!