The One Best Fabric Cutting Machine for Quilting
I make 2-3 quilts per month, most of them over 60” x 60”, and I love piecing them together. Sitting at my sewing machine and sewing quilt pieces together is my happy place. My Accuquilt GO! fabric cutting machine takes the stress and work out of cutting so I can piece and quilt more. It’s as simple as that.
This blog review contains the opinions of a die-hard quilter (no pun intended) so the tools I love may not be right for you if you only dabble in quilt making, you want to make fancy cards too, or you are okay cutting fabric a little bit at a time.
But I thought my readers might like to know what is going on behind the scenes here at SewCanShe when I design quilts. As of late, I design almost all of my quilts with Accuquilt dies in mind. Cutting every fabric piece with a rotary cutter now seems slow and tedious to me. I am almost 47 and feel entirely too old to mess with that! Ha ha.
DON’T WORRY: I have ALWAYS provided cutting instructions using a regular ruler and rotary blade or scissors (if that is possible) so my readers have the most options with all my free patterns. But now you know that in my studio I am secretly using my Accuquilt fabric cutter to cut the fabric. I wrote more about my design process below.
What about the Electronic Fabric Cutting Machines?
In the past I have owned a Silhouette Cameo and a Cricut Explore Air. I won’t go into great detail about them. The short answer is that I gave them away because I don’t have unlimited space or room for things I don’t use.
These electronic cutting machines can cut very intricate designs out of fabric and paper. If you want to design your own applique shapes, use letter fonts, or cut applique shapes with .svg files that you can buy or find online, they are great. They are wonderful for crafts that involve a wide variety of materials like leather, vinyl, and even wood.
Both, however, require the use of a computer, tablet, or other device to set up each cut in an online platform like Cricut Design Space. Internet access is required to download projects. I did not like having to fiddle with a computer file before slowly cutting one layer of fabric at a time (I’ve read that the Cricut Maker can cut 3 layers at once). Because I like to cut fabric more than paper, my Silhouette and Cricut cutting mats lost their stickiness very quickly and I had to replace them often. Felt was especially hard to clean off the mats!
Why I love and kept my Accuquilt Die Cutting Machine
The Accuquilt system is an investment, I admit, but a comparable cost to investing in a Cricut, Silhouette, or the Brother ScannCut system. The starter set will include a cutter (there are different sizes) and a starter die. Mine came with the Value Die that I’ll talk about more below. I love it for cutting scraps.
Without using a computer or electricity, I simply layer my fabric on the die, cover it with a plastic mat, and roll the manual die through the machine. It can cut cotton, flannel, felt, wool, denim, minky, and home decor fabrics. I haven’t found a fabric yet that it didn’t cut.
Then I remove the mat to reveal lots of perfectly cut squares, triangles, strips, and other shapes. There are foam pads to protect fingers from the knife blades. I have never cut myself and fabric waste is minimal.
In contrast to cutting mats for electronic machines that lose their stickiness, Accuquilt dies probably last forever. Whenever I have wondered if the knife blade on a die is getting dull, I have realized that the mat that goes on top has been used about 100+ times and is old and cracking. I try a new mat and it’s like my blade is new too!
Accuquilt Machines and Accessories are Designed by Quilters
The more time I spend using my Accuquilt and visiting their website, the more I have found that they know what I want before I do!
- I can cut up to 6 layers of fabric at once, which means I can cut out a whole quilt REALLY FAST. I love cutting out custom ‘quilt kits’ to take on vacation.
- They know which quilt piecing shapes I will want to use most and put those in bundles (hello Qube sets!).
- The dies automatically trim the ‘dog ears’ off of all the pieces, which makes it so easy to piece accurate half square triangles, quarter square triangles, isosceles triangles, and more. I no longer have to trim my half square triangles after sewing them together!!!
- They know I don’t want to sew Y-seams so they have lots of beautiful Block on Board (BOB) dies for intricate looking blocks without Y-seams!
This is the perfect way to use up scraps!
Sometimes I want to make a scrappy quilt. You would not believe how easy it is to layer fabric scraps over an Accuquilt die and cut out hundreds of pieces in very little time.
That’s exactly how I made my Patchwork Quilt with 2” Squares.
Tip: your cut shapes will be more accurate if you press the scrap fabrics flat first. This is true no matter how you cut them.
I cut out all the pieces for my Summer Snowflake Half Square Triangle quilt that way too!
For other quilts (like fat quarter quilts or quilts not intended to be scrappy), my cutting process has evolved to this:
- I use the correct die to cut out the shapes that I want for a new quilt. Then I immediately gather up the scraps left around the knife blade.
- I keep my Accuquilt value die that has smaller shapes (2” square, 2” HST, and 4” square) right next to the cutter.
- I lay the scraps left from my main quilt fabrics over the die shapes on the value die and pass it through the machine.
- Now I have squares and half square triangle pieces already cut that I can use for a second scrappy quilt.
You may never have to buy another quilt pattern (unless you want to!)
Before I open your eyes to all of their amazing resources for quilters, I just want to point out that I have linked all of MY free Accuquilt friendly quilt patterns here, wink wink. Please don’t abandon me when you discover Accuquilt!
The Accuquilt website very cleverly suggests patterns that go with all of their fabric cutting dies. Most of these quilt patterns are free.
You can see all their quilt patterns here.
I recently discovered another free tool on the Accuquilt website that absolutely blew me away: GO! Quilt. This online quilt design software is amazing. In about 5 minutes, I picked the free quilt pattern above, re-colored the quilt with Moda Grunge fabrics that I already had in my stash, and printed up custom step by step instructions. See? You won’t need me anymore.
My Quilt Design Process
Some of you may already know that I design my quilts with a more powerful computer program: Electric Quilt 8. It gives me more freedom and design options than GO! Quilt, but guess what? I can still design quilts with my Accuquilt die shapes in mind. I can (and already have) downloaded EQ8 Block Libraries that use the Accuquilt dies that I already own (or plan on buying).
This means that behind the scenes, I am designing quilts that I can cut out using the Accuquilt GO! die cutting machine, and then I tell my readers how to cut it out the ‘old’ way because I don’t want to assume that everyone has the same tools that I do.
Which Accuquilt Cutters do I own?
You may have noticed I mention the Accuquilt GO! machine a lot. That is the original one that I bought. It is a manual fabric cutter that does not require electricity. It is large enough for almost all of the dies. I’ve been using it for nearly 10 years and I am very happy with it. That might make it the best!
A few years ago Accuquilt was running a promotion where you could get the smaller Accuquilt GO ME! for free if you spent a certain amount. The sales were really great at the time (they aways are, lol) and I went for it. The GO ME! is a smaller manual die cutter but it can still do a lot.
I was surprised to find that most of my Block on Board dies are narrow enough to use with the GO ME! cutter as well as lots of the Qube dies (which are classic piecing shapes).
That leaves 2 Accuquilt cutting machines that I do not own. I may someday buy the Accuquilt GO! BIG because the automatic feeding looks so easy to use. It doesn’t have a handle because the dies roll through at the push of a button.
Right now I don’t really need it, so I’m on the fence about this purchase. I can see how it would be very nice for quilters with arthritis or stiff joints who might find it difficult to crank a handle.
The other Accuquilt system I don’t own is the Studio 2 Fabric Cutter. As much as I love to make quilts, I don’t think I could keep up with this one. Your local quilt shop may be using it to cut quilt kits, though!
So there is my honest review of Accuquilt cutters and a secret peek into how I cut out most of my quilt fabrics. I don’t have any friends at Accuquilt (yet) and they didn’t pay me to write this post.
Most of the links in this post go directly to the Accuquilt website because that’s where I prefer to buy my dies. They have the biggest selection, plus they keep track of which products you already own so you won’t buy them twice. Some items are also available on Amazon. I suggest you browse Amazon first and read the reviews so you don’t have to take my word that this is the best fabric cutting machine for quilters!
Do any of you own an Accuquilt cutting machine? Do you agree with me? Let us know in the comments below.
Happy quilt making,
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
I agree with all you say about the Accuquilt Go fabric cutter I have had one for about 15 years and it has made cutting my fabric so much faster as I have limited time in my sewing room. I have considered the “Big” as being in my 70’s my I have arthritis in my hands, but then at this age ‘is it worth the expense’ ? I have many dies but got a bit confused by the BOB and Qube sets, as to would I be doubling up on some dies that I already have. Also getting dies here in Australia is not so easy. Whatever! I am very glad I have the cutter. Love your newsletters, thank you, Regards Jenny Moore
I agree with you re: Accuquilt. I have the same system as you mentioned! I agree… it makes it easy to cut lots of blocks at one time. I would be interested in knowing which dies you think are the best ones to have for most common quilts you make? Also, it would be great to see some of your quilts and which dies you used in making them! Thank you!
I love my GO Big, use it all the time, along with the Qubes, mostly. I have a few BOBs, but seem to adapt most of my cutting (I make a lot of samplers) using the various Qubes.
I have all 3 Go cutters but my favorite is the Baby. Have taken it on vacation with family, most of dies work with it. Next fave is the Big. I like 10” die,big circle, rag cutter,bowl. Don’t think I have ever used Go that you like. Might have to give it try. Cutter I use most often and won’t get rid of, is the Baby.
I also love the embroidery designs that are offered,free. Lately have been adding spiders, using glow in dark thread to my Halloween items.
I forgot to mention the embroidery designs in my post. Another bonus! Glad to hear you love the little one too.
I have a GoBig! It is such a lifesaver for cutting quickly and accurately.
The older I get (now 72) the more I LOVE my Accuquilt Go.
Love your patterns too!!!