Happy Birthday Olfa!


Ever look at an antique quilt and think, “Dang. That poor lady had to cut out all 6,050 of those pieces with scissors.” It’s kind of an appalling thought, isn’t it? Fortunately, us lucky quilters in this day and age have a little invention called a rotary cutter. And we have Olfa to thank for creating this indispensable tool 35 years ago.

That’s right, the mighty rotary cutter turns 35 this year! To celebrate, Olfa has asked a group of quilters (including me!) to make 6-1/2″ blocks for a special birthday quilt. I can’t think of a single sewing notion that has revolutionized the quilting world more than the rotary cutter, so I was happy to participate.

Our instructions were to make a 6-1/2″ block that represented Olfa’s 35 years—and to include Olfa’s trademark yellow. So I thought, what better fabric line to use for Olfa’s birthday block than Sew Yummy by Monica Solorio-Snow and Cloud 9? I mean: Smiley thread bobbins and seam rippers and tomato pincushions. (But no smiley happy rotary cutters? Darn!)

When I think of techniques that have been made easier by rotary cutters, two things come to mind for me—half-square triangles (because trimming), and fussy cutting. So I decided to feature both of those things in my block.

I fussy-cut around Monica’s fab circle of pins for the center of the star, and trimmed up some lovely yellow star points using Sew Yummy’s tomato pin-cushion blenders. Pretty cute, right? This block is off to Olfa to be included in the birthday quilt!

And while it may be Olfa’s birthday, you get the prize! Want to win a rotary cutter and a small cutting mat from Olfa? Just leave a comment (any old comment) on this post. I’ll draw a random winner on August 5. Now go cut up some fabric!

236 replies
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  1. Patty
    Patty says:

    I have tried other brands of rotary cutters over the years, but have always ended up coming back to the Olfa. I will not bother to try other brands any more. Thanks for the opportunity.

  2. Susan Melvin
    Susan Melvin says:

    I like the block you made.

    I do think rotary cutting is the only reason I quilt today. I cannot imagine doing quilts and cutting out each block with scissors.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win.

  3. Havplenty
    Havplenty says:

    Nice block and I love the sew themed fabrics. I would totally be lost without my rotary cutter. I have been using one for about 30 years.


  4. Samantha K
    Samantha K says:

    Cute block. Those fabrics are perfect for it. I can't wait to see all of the birthday celebration blocks put together. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Oh, and yeah, can you imagine cutting out lots and lots of squares with a scissors, after you have marked them all of course. EEK!

  5. Lisa in Port Hope
    Lisa in Port Hope says:

    I made my first and second quilt using sxisdors before I invested in a rotary cutter and mat. I'm glad I got the 18 x 24 mat, because it is immensely useful for bags and garments, not to mention oversized modern blocks.

  6. Anne
    Anne says:

    Great pin fabric! Lee, thank you for the dedication to this blog. I have really learned a lot from your tutorials. Loved Bloom Bloom Pow!

  7. GO STARS!
    GO STARS! says:

    Love the fussy cut in the center of your block. Those fabrics are very fun. The rotary cutter was the first real quilt notion that I bought. It changed my quilting life!

  8. OhioLori
    OhioLori says:

    Don't know how we ever got along without rotary Cutters!! Thank You Olfa!!! Happy Birthday!!! 🙂

    Loooove your Block…soooo cool how you fussy cut the middle square…is Perfectly Awesome!!

  9. Cindy England
    Cindy England says:

    Cute block. 🙂

    Honestly, the cutting is my least favourite part of sewing and quilting and that's with using a rotary cutter! I dread to think of what a chore it must have been before this fabulous invention. Happy birthday to Olfa, indeed!

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