Monday, 18 February 2013

'what about the waste?'

'What about the waste?' is something I get asked a lot when I talk about my Sizzix big shot. Surely when you are using a die rather than ruler and rotary cutter or templates and scissors you can't position your fabrics in the same way and you are bound to get wasted fabric?

I will admit, I used to think the exact same thing before I tried using the Big Shot.

Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by the amount, or more to the point lack of, waste involved with using Sizzix dies.

I'm going to show you how I would use the dies when I want to get the maximum benefit of the fabric, and the least amount of waste.

Firstly, I position my fabrics so they are just covering the cutting blades, rather than using the edges of the die as a guide . When I lay the fabric on the die, I can feel for the indentation of the blades. I wouldn't press down on the die without the fabric there to protect my fingers, but because the fabric is there I am safe - there's no risk of getting a nasty cut!

waste 1

I add multiple layers, as normal and roll through the machine.

This is the waste from a fat quarter. Not bad, is it? I discard these very skinny strings, but you could use them if you were especially frugal and creatively minded. Maybe to weave potholders, or coasters? Or for children's crafts? Maybe even pop them in a bird feeder and let the birds use them for building nests?

waste 2

On dies with unusual shapes, such as the hexagons, there is a little more wastage, but not a huge amount. Not when you follow the same principle and feel for the indentation of the blades under the fabric. These smaller dies are ideal for using with charm squares. I always seem to have the odd 5" square leftover from a charm pack, and they fit onto these perfectly with minimal waste.

waste 3

The slightly larger scraps from cutting more unusual shapes are perfect for trimming down and making string quilts, like this spiderweb quilt.

spiderweb - close up

I hope this has put your mind at ease if you're thinking of buying a Sizzix Big Shot or Big Shot Pro!



  1. I'm thinking I should get one, just so my robin can have some cool nesting material. Thanks for the info

  2. Katy, how many layers can you cut?


    1. it depends on the fabric - but on average I cut between 6-8 layers for regular cotton fabric.

  3. You can compost fabric and thread scraps.

  4. I even line up one edge of the fabric with the blade if I am feeling extra frugal!!

  5. This is one of my major worries about getting Sizzix. Thanks for the info!

  6. It's still more waste than using a rotary cutter though

  7. Hi Katy, I love your quilts! Would you mind sharing what your "sandwich" looks like as you get it ready to roll through the Big Shot? I have a Big Shot and dies that I use in paper crafting but would like to also use it for fabric/quilt making and I'm not sure what I need to accomplish that.



    1. Hi Karen,
      Of course I will pop a photo of the sandwich in a future blog. It is much the same as papercrafting with a Bigz die - one cutting pad on the bottom, then the die foam side up, then your fabric (you can layer this up to 6 or 8 depending on the fabric) and then your top cutting pad. Happy quilting!