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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?