4 All Things Sewing and Some Things Not

ScanNCut Class #2

All about starching, using the fabric support sheet, and cutting for quilting.

Denver Sewing Collective

ScanNCut Collage

I’m so happy to have found an Advanced ScanNCut class being offered at Rocky Mountain Sew and Vac in Arvada, Colorado. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get that darn machine to do what you want in the vacuum of your own limited experience. Even though there is a multitude of YouTube videos and online blog posts about how to use the ScanNCut, nothing substitutes for some hands-on use with a knowledgeable instructor and a classroom full of eager students sitting in front of their own machines.

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ScanNCut Class #2.

Denver Sewing Collective


I used to think that applying appliques with fusible web was cheating. But at the same time, I am too impatient to ever apply appliques by hand. Hence, I would drool over those cute designs I’d see and wish that I could figure out a way to try them out without “cheating”. Well, I’ve had a change of heart and decided that fusible web is the way to go. How much fun would it be to be able to simply scan an applique design from a book and cut out all of the pieces you need without any tracing or cutting with scissors?

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PaperCutouts Collage

So in this part, I explore cutting paper. In the past I’ve had problems cutting designs with small cutouts. The cutouts pop out while the machine is operating, the design isn’t cut all the way through the paper in some parts, and the sharp points get scrunched up.

Starting with the cat design that I scanned in for part 1, I set the machine to the suggested settings for card stock: cut pressure 1 and cutting depth of 4. I taped down the edges of the card stock with tape. I used clear tape as that is all I had. Low-tack painter’s tape would have been better for ease of removal and visibility. I did a test cut first. Then I cut three cats. The results came out great!

CutCats Collage

I then tried a more intricate design I scanned from “Simply Paper Cutting: Hand-Cut Paper Projects for Home Decor, Stationery & Gifts” by Anna Bondoc. This design had been giving me conniption fits on the ScanNCut. Admittedly I had not thought to tape the edges of my card stock down before.

Now I thought I’d try a more rigorous approach to debugging my earlier problems. Using the suggested settings, here’s attempt #1:

CP0 CD4 Collage

Some of the lines were not cut all the way through the paper, so I increased the cutting pressure. Here are attempts #2 and #3:

CP2-4 CD4 Collage

By the time I got the pressure up to 4, it finally worked!

The next thing I wanted to try was to reduce the scrunchies. It seems logical that the scrunchies will be exacerbated by more of the blade being exposed. So I tried reducing the blade depth, leaving the cut pressure at 4. Here are attempts #4 and #5:

CDExp Collage

The scrunchies seem to be improved with a shorter blade depth. I didn’t try anything less than 3.0 though perhaps I should have.

Mat Loading

To get the mat to load properly, particularly on the right side, hold the mat up a little past level while it feeds. Apply very gentle pressure towards the rollers. This seems to work much better and the mat will feed properly most every time.

Hold Mat Up

Mat Cleaning

As others have suggested, just use a fragrance-free baby wipe to remove any paper or fabric fibers that may be stuck on your mat. After it dries, the mat will still be nice and tacky.

Using Paper

If you feel that your paper is not going to stay stuck to the mat, use some low-tack painter’s tape to hold down the edges of the paper. Apply the tape in the areas outside of the tacky region.


I love this machine! I think that the possibilities are endless for both paper cutting and fabric applique cutting. If you’re having problems with cutting a particular design, you may have to experiment with changing the cutting depth and cutting pressure. Don’t forget to tape down your paper with low-tack tape if you need to, hold the mat up while feeding it, and occasionally clean the mat with a baby wipe!

More ScanNCut tips can be found at www.scanncut.com.

Also see me on denversews.com

ScanNCut Collage

I recently indulged myself in a Brother ScanNCut. It seemed like the perfect cutting machine: no computer connection required, will cut through both paper and fabric (and presumably vinyl), and no cartridges to purchase! The design possibilities are endless.

My initial attempts at using the machine were seemingly fraught with problems: mat not loading properly and paper coming off of the mat during the cutting process. I took a short hiatus from the machine and now have come back to try and do some fun stuff at the same time as debug some of the problems I was having before. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating a New Year

ChickenBags Collage

Had a wonderful New Years Day with my friends in Parker.  It snowed on and off.  We enjoyed some delicious sushi and watched Stanford lose to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl Game while playing a quick game of “Vegas” followed by “Expedition: Famous Explorers”.  Enjoyed conversation with my friends, their son, and nephew.  I’ve known them since the first days of Settlers of Catan when you had to order the board game from Germany.  That’s a long time!

Also shared some bag-sewing plans with my friend who now loves to sew!  It’s a funny thing, but she was never inspired by my initial bag-making efforts – a chicken purse.  But as soon as I started making iPad bags from custom-selected fabrics, she got all excited and decided that sewing might be a worthy hobby.  Now she sews bags and is constantly on the lookout for new patterns of the non-chicken variety.

As I think about the upcoming year, there’s certainly one thing that doesn’t have to change and that is my sewing hobby.  Sewing provides an endless stream of things to do.  So here’s to a New Year that is much like the last!

Chicken bag pattern: “Go Chickens” from Needlesongs by Carol Bruce
Also visit me on denversews.com