It might not be obvious (ha!) but I tend to get intensely interested in some art or craft, learn as much about it as I can, then move on. Sometimes I feel guilty about these little obsessions, but I think that often I take away, sometimes subconsciously, ideas that surface later on in my quilts.
The "paper arts" - most notably stamping and decorating papers, is a case in point. For a number of years I tended to really get excited about them, usually in the autumn. An obvious result of this interest is the series of quilts I've made that include manipulated "paintings", including "Grotto" and "Under the Rainbow".
As Christmas approached this year I noticed a Joann's ad that include a "Cuttlebug". I had no idea what this was. Turns out it's a small die cutting machine, and it also embosses paper. I asked for one for Christmas, and low and behold got one. It accepts all major brands of dies, and is very easy to use. Caveat: it doesn't exert as much pressure as some of the "bigger" (and heavier) machines, but I thought it would be just fine for my little dalliances.
There's also a hot new die that's on the market called "nestabilities". Unlike traditional dies, they are a series of metal shapes (frames of shapes) that gradate in size, hence the nesting. I was immediately drawn to them, and purchased sets of circles and scalloped circles.
I played with the dies, cutting card stock, ruminating on how I might use the nested circles with fabric. The burning question: Would the nestabilities adequately cut fabric in my Cuttlebug? My husband's burning question: Would the Cuttlebug emboss fabric?
Here are my quick and dirty test results using some nestabilities circles and a Cuttlebug embossing folder:
As I expected, it cut the Lutradur very easily. The embossing looks much more impressive in this picture than in real life.
The painted fabric cut beautifully. (As you can see, it's pretty heavily painted.) This fabric probably embossed the best.
Hand Dyed Fabric
This fabric was not starched, and therefore very floppy. It did not cut very well. The embossing was quite minimal.
Wonder Under Backed Hand Dyed Fabric (paper removed from back)
I was most interested in this sample, as it would be great to cut circles for applique. It cut just fine, and the embossing was pretty good too.
I'd still like to try this test with silk paper (I couldn't find where I'd stashed mine), freezer paper backed fabric, and something like Timtex. In all honesty I didn't expect the fabric to emboss at all, and only did that test because my husband really wanted to know. My hypothesis is that if you get any of that embossing near high humidity or steam that it will disappear.
So there you have it! I can indeed cut fabric with my little machine, and I'd guess that the heavier die cut machines, like the Spellbinder's Wizard or Sizzix machines, would potentially work even on the plain fabric.