Laser Cut Fabric for Appliqué + Pieced Quilting

on March 30 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Inspiration | by | with 75 Comments

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

Andrea from The Sewing Fools specializes in laser cut fabric. Really! Did you even know this was a thing?! The precision cut pieces are great for appliqué and help with piecing projects too.

Take a look at Andrea’s shop for laser cut appliqué shapes, project kits and laser cuts for quilting. You can also find The Sewing Fools on Facebook and check out the The Sewing Fools blog.

Learn all about the process of laser cut fabric below. Andrea is also giving away a laser cut mini-quilt kit! Your comment enters you for a chance to win everything you need to make this quilt top.

Laser Beams + Fabric! Pew! Pew!

As a collector of hobbies I am always looking for new equipment and materials to play with, and a few years ago I discovered something that completely transformed my world. Did you know that you can cut fabric with laser beams? That’s right, I said laser beams. Now I understand that not everyone has access to a laser so in that instance you can hire someone, like me at The Sewing Fools, to laser cut your fabric for you!

You might wonder why you would want to laser cut your fabric when you have perfectly lovely scissors and rotary cutters and maybe even a die cut system. Those are all great but you can’t beat the speed, flexibility and precision that the laser brings to the equation. Laser cut shapes are perfectly precise with every single cut.

Andrea’s Mariner’s Compass Quilt

For quilters, pieced projects are a dream to complete due to the precision cutting offered by the laser. For appliqué pieces the fusible is already in place which means all you have to do is peel, press and stitch. It makes the process fun and easy with precut, pre-fused appliqué. When I really embraced the idea of laser cutting my fabric for more than appliqué I was tasked to create a Mariner’s Compass quilt for my local quilt shop and it was not paper pieced. There were over 1000 pieces that went into the quilt and many included odd angles, sizes and curves. I am pretty sure without the laser that quilt would still be sitting in a pile and I’d be ridden with guilt for not completing it. After having minor panic attacks over the project I thought why not cut this with the laser? Less than a week later I had digitized the pattern and cut all of the pieces to perfection. The complicated Mariner’s Compass blocks stitched together like a dream. After this quilt that I began offering laser cutting as a service for quilters because I couldn’t imagine anyone having to cut out all those little pieces with templates.

Laser cutting isn’t only for quilters though. It is perfect for small projects like baskets, bags, accessories, baby bibs and even Christmas stockings.

Efficient layout for laser cut pieces.

There is a process to laser cutting fabric. It starts with an idea and ends with a finished project. In between the following steps take place:

Digitizing:
You can think of a laser cutter like a really expensive printer. In order to “print” to the laser cutter a digital file needs to be created to communicate where it needs to cut.

Layout:
An additional benefit to laser cutting fabric is the efficient use of fabric. Once the pieces are digitized they are laid out to waste the smallest amount of fabric possible.

Fusing:
For appliqué and projects like bags or baskets you’ll want to add fusible interfacing of some sort. With the laser we can fuse the interfacing before we cut, making the process painless.

Cutting:
This is the fun part! No matter how many hours I have spent with the laser I still am fascinated to watch it magically create all the wonderful shapes.

There are a few limitations to laser cutting. At The Sewing Fools we specialize in cutting quilter’s quality cotton with or without fusible on the back. The bed of our lasers are 18″ x 24″ and 17″ x 29″, giving us flexibility to cut large items. Our preference is to cut fat quarters, especially when cutting with fusible.

Etched Leather

These things can also be laser cut and in some cases etched:

  • Polyester batting. Cotton batting catches on fire… Ask us how we know.
  • Natural fabrics including cotton, wool and silk.
  • Leather can be etched and cut. I’ve also seen denim and canvas successfully etched.
  • Synthetic fibers including spandex and lycra. The edges curl slightly and stick together from the melting but they are easily pulled apart.
  • Paper pattern pieces. This is especially useful for pieced patterns that need to be marked.

Finally, you are probably wondering if the lasing process will harm your fabrics. Laser cutting works by applying laser focused heat to the fabric, burning the fibers in a very controlled manner. The lasers are equipped with excellent ventilation and fans to pull away the smoke created during the process. However, sometimes a small amount of discoloration will appear along the outside edges of the fabric. This is from the smoke and will disappear the first time you wash your fabrics. Plus, most of it will be hidden in a seam allowance.

So who’s ready to laser?

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75 Responses to Laser Cut Fabric for Appliqué + Pieced Quilting

  1. Kristine Clay says:

    What an awesome tutorial. Where can you buy al laser cutter for home use?

  2. Linda Pawlak says:

    Wow, I love that little quilt! Thank you for the chance to win!

  3. Karen Propes says:

    Love to try a laser cut quilt. How fantastic, thank you for the giveaway. Not sure when this ends, count me in if its still open.

  4. Fronye says:

    Very interesting! I’m going to check these out. Love the quilts…

  5. wow! I have NEVER heard of laser cutting fabric before! WAY cool!

  6. Paula says:

    I’ve made a mini Storm-at-Sea quilt, and a tiny complex watercolour appliqué quilt, from laser cut kits. I wouldn’t have attempted either by cutting the usual ways – too many tiny pieces! And I love them!

  7. Cotton backing catches on FIRE!!! I enjoyed reading about how the laser cuts fabric. I didn’t know exactly how it worked. I would love to see some etched denim!

  8. Nancy Ridder says:

    Love the mini quilt. We use a surgical laser at our veterinary clinic and it is neat to watch it cut too! We also have the smoke and the ventilators! Lasers cut so precisely.

  9. Monique B says:

    That mini is adorable and looks like fun!

  10. Melanie C says:

    Love the mini quilt! Plus the comment about cotton batting and laser cutting made me smile! I would’ve totally tried it too!

  11. Kati M says:

    This is so cool. I need a machine like this!!

  12. Brenda says:

    This is so fascinating. Since I have difficulty cutting out quilt pieces due to arthritis and other hand problems, I could really get into a service like this!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Brenda,

      That is exactly one of the reasons we started laser cutting fabric for quilters 🙂 Thank you so much for validating that!

  13. Shannon says:

    Thank you for explaining how this works!

  14. What an interesting concept. Love the quilt.

  15. Julie Rosenhan says:

    Your compass quilt is beautiful! And cutting with lasers is fascinating, thanks for telling us about it

  16. Nancy says:

    I would love, love to win anything that has to do with applique’. I’ve even signed up for a local class; I can’t wait. Sewing is so much fun.

    • Andrea says:

      Make sure you register for the giveaway at thesewingfools.com

  17. Priyanka says:

    Hearing about laser fabric cutting for the first time.. Will be time saving for sure.. Thank you for the giveaway 🙂

  18. Maye says:

    What a super way to cut fabric. I loved your website and the quilt kit you are giving away would be great to win.

  19. Mary Furber says:

    Wow! I love precision in my piecing and this sure would provide that. Fingers crossed that I win the kit! Thanks for the drawing.

  20. Delaine says:

    Wow – laser cut applique pieces look like the way to go. Thanks!

  21. Lara B. says:

    That is totally awesome Andrea! I had no idea this could be done on a non industrial level. Definitely going to go and check out your links. Thanks for the description of the process too. I was wondering, does the laser heat seal the edges of the cotton so that the cut pieces fray less than those cut out with scissors?

  22. Summer says:

    Love how we are continually moving forward in innovation, even with a timeless craft like quilting.

  23. linda newman says:

    Wow, I love circles; this kit would be great. Very interesting about laser cutting. I will want to know more…

  24. Karen McMahon says:

    I did not know about laser cutting. I can’t wait to check out your website.

  25. Casey says:

    That Mariner’s Compass is amazing!

  26. Emma says:

    That is so neat! I really love that Mariners compass quilt and the etched leather map. Now I want one 🙂

  27. Claire Ross says:

    Wow, the compass quilts is amazing x

  28. Chris says:

    It is totally amazing. I love the Mariners Compass and I know how much work it is to cut out. Lasers continue to change our life everyday.

  29. Katy M says:

    Fascinating! I’d never heard of laser fabric cutting before x

  30. Kathy E. says:

    Laser cut fabric sounds so interesting and so futuristic! Perhaps someday all quilting pieces will be cut by laser or die cuts and we’ll laugh at the “old” scissor-cut days!

  31. Susan Grancio says:

    What a great new idea for quilting! I started out with yardsticks, pencils and scissors and bought the first rotary cutters and rulers when they were introduced. Have not tried the die-cutters as I lack the space form a big enough unit. Would love to see the pieces in the laser cut quilt kit!
    @susansquiltstudio

  32. Emma says:

    That is so neat! I really love that Mariners Compass quilt, and the etched leather map is too awesome! Now I want one 🙂

  33. Michele T says:

    I’d love to try a kit with laser cut fabric pieces!!!

  34. Debby says:

    I didn’t even know this was a thing. Very cool. Very precise! Having precise pieces really helps my quilts to come out looking nicer.

  35. Sandy Allen says:

    Wow! That is amazing! I have heard of laser cut fabrics, but didn’t quite understand how it all worked. Thanks for the explanation!

  36. Beth T. says:

    So glad I dropped by! Now I’ll think about lasers in a whole new way.

  37. Quinn says:

    I had no idea this was being done, but it makes good sense! Very interesting.

  38. Kate says:

    Thanks for the chance!

  39. Allison C says:

    This is soooo cool! I didn’t know this existed! Now to scheme my next project…

  40. Lisa Marie says:

    Very interesting. I didn’t know just how this process worked.

  41. Linda Cejnar says:

    Did you say Giveaway? I can’t find it….

  42. Toni says:

    Wow, those first two quilt photos are just stunning!

  43. Ramona says:

    What a very interesting process. I have never used laser cut pieces but I bet they would be great

  44. Paige says:

    Laser cutting fabric is new to me! Interesting!

  45. Sarah J says:

    This is so cool! I had no idea you could laser cut fabric. I adore the mini quilt- dots are my favorite!

  46. Nancy says:

    Technology is a wonderful thing! I’m impressed and interested!

  47. Marian Allen says:

    That all sounds so exciting! I love the phrase ‘A collector of Hobbies’ that is certainly me

  48. Charlotte says:

    And I thought my Cricut was cool! I’m now inspired to check out my local makerspace to see if they have a laser cutter.

  49. rrjane011749 says:

    Love the quilt kit! It would be such a cute baby quilt!

  50. Leanne says:

    Wow what an awesome tool – wonder what I’d with all the time I’d save !! Would love to try it out with that gorgeous mini 🙂

  51. Chelle Chapman says:

    EEK! This sounds SEW F.U.N.!! Thanks for this opportunity to Learn & WIN!

  52. Alayna says:

    I never even thought to cut fabric with a laser!!
    This is amazing!!

  53. karen in CA USA says:

    So how does it work…do you send fabric to the laser or what?

  54. Anne Marie says:

    Lovely quilts. Laser cut is all new to me.

  55. Tonia Jeffery says:

    The circles look so fun!

  56. barbara woods says:

    would love to try that, thanks

  57. Robin says:

    Oooo … would love to try laser cuts! Having Parkinsons makes cutting applique shapes difficult so this could be my new passion!

  58. Terry says:

    As you stated, laser cut appliqué shapes are great when there are many small pieces for a project. I made a large pillow last year with a kit I purchased from a local quilt shop (something I never would have done if I had to cut out all those tiny pieces by hand). Enjoyed reading about the process to laser cutting fabric.

  59. Fascinating! I would love to see your work in person.

  60. Janie says:

    That is a neat process. Thank you for sharing.

  61. LINDA says:

    HOW ATTRACTIVE! THANKS FOR SHARING!

  62. marilyn says:

    What a beautiful quilt!

  63. Wendy says:

    This is so interesting! I know about lasers as we have laser cutters at work, though we cut sheet plastic with ours

  64. Mary Kay says:

    Wow!!! This sounds perfect for a precision pieced quilting project – and I love the efficient use of fabric! Good to know!

  65. Lesley says:

    I did a kit of a laser cut storm at sea and it went together so well!

  66. Tac says:

    What an incredibly efficient process! Thanks for showing it.

  67. AllisonT says:

    I can’t decide if laser cutting sounds wonderful or scary! Either way, I need to see it in real life!

  68. jessicac says:

    I never knew you could laser cut fabric!? Love technology being used in different ways.

  69. Jessica Hansen says:

    This is fascinating. It sounds expensive, though. The machine, not necessarily the fabric cut on it. Fun, too. Most things that are that expensive have to be fun, right?

  70. Taysha Riggs says:

    Great giveaway! would love to win

  71. DebraKay Neiman says:

    I have bought laser cut appliques, already fused and it seems many shops are gearing up to do this themselves. Works really well. crystalbluern at tds dot net

  72. HeatherK says:

    I love that mariner’s compass quilt. This definitely makes me want to try out a laser cut quilt.

  73. Heather Crook says:

    Wow, I need to go check out laser cut kits!

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