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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sizzix & Westminster Partner for a New Fabric Cutting System - IHAN Product Review

 The new Quilting By Design Fabric Cutting System also embosses, cuts tin, foam, paper, card stock, and of course fabric.  You may remember my previous post (click here).   These photos belong to IHAN and were taken at Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis, Checker Distributors in Maumee, OH, and here at IHAN World Headquarters :)  
My first opportunity to get my hands on the New Quilting by Design came in Minneapolis at Spring Quilt Market.  I had heard it cut so many different mediums I was very interested to see for myself how it worked.  You probably want to know there is more than one option for Cutting Machines.  There is the Big Shot and Big Shot Pro.  Both of those are hand cranked.  For those of you can not or do not want to use the hand crank there is the Big Shot Express that simply plugs into your electrical outlet.  (The word on the street is there is another new one on the horizon.....The Sizzix Vagabond Machine - inspired by Tim Holtz) Click here for the You Tube Video- I've seen it and it is definitely worth looking at.  For those of you who are interested in cutting fabric you will want to know the Cutting Dies work in both machines.
Cheryl Adam is the designer of the quilt behind her.  You will see her pictured below because she also attended the Checker Distributor 62 Anniversary Open House.
Meet the Big Shot Pro!!! 
The Big Shot Pro has a cutting bed and comes with two acrylic cutting pads.  It also comes with an adapter pad that is used for embossing....see below.
Depending on how you fold your fabric you can also make the above designs without using a special die.  It is all in how you fold your fabric :)
Here Sizzix had cut some rubber foam to make a rubber stamp.  I like the variety of things these machines can be used for because I'm also a scrapbooker. (Yes, I have an obsession with paper....I've had it since I was a young child...shhhh our secret!)
This was Mrs. IHAN (very tired) in Minneapolis using the Big Shot to see how it worked.  I also used the Big Shot Pro but I decided I have so many photos here that you don't need to see all of them.  If you want to....just ask :)

Now these are the photos I took at Checker Distributor after returning from Spring Quilt Market.  One thing I noticed when I used the Sizzix Bigz 2in Hexagon was that there seemed to be threads that did not cut through.  I called it the "dangling chad."  I was curious why this was happening.  I have since learned that this can happen with all die cutting systems and if it should occur, put a piece of paper on top of the fabric and that will eliminate the issue.
You will probably recall me posting this before.  I figured if I got threads hanging from the Sizzix Bigz 2in Hexagon  I would most definitely get the same result with the more intricate Sizzix Bigz Flower with Leaves and Stem die. was a clean cut. 
Now fast forward to the recent Checker Distributor 62 Anniversary Open House (that is a long phrase and I'm about to just refer to it as "the CH-OH")*

Dennis Horcher from Sizzix and designer Cheryl Adam gave demonstrations of the Big Shot and the Big Shot Pro.
Here is the Sizzix Bigz Pro 25 - 3-1/2in Strips die.  Cheryl gave me a great tip, she suggested that when the acrylic mat is removed to slide it off as pictured below.  This cuts down on static cling. 
During the CD -OH* I purchased the Big Shot and brought it back to IHAN Headquarters to give it a whirl.
The Big Shot comes with The Big Shot Machine, 1 Pair Standard Cutting Pads and the Instruction Booklet.

Some assembly required.  I actually read the directions, aren't you proud of me?  The handle has to be attached and I found that to be quite easy.  The instructions are clear easy for me to understand.  The Big Shot Machine itself weights apx. 7lbs 9oz and it stands on 6 small rubber feet.  It is very sturdy and does not move when I put the dies through the machine.  The instruction booklet does have Tips for using Fabric and it says to use paper on top of the fabric as well as other tips.
My first die, Sizzix Bigz Sunflower and Poinsettia Petals, because I am in love with Sunflowers. 
I sandwiched one mat, the die, fabric and the other mat together and put it on the bed of the Big Shot Machine.  I laid it down and with one hand held it in place while I used the handle to move the die sandwich through the Big Shot Machine.
No I did not iron my fabric, I could have but for the demo I did not bother.  This is what I got the first time.
I now know the remedy to this so I took another scrap of fabric and put some of my used paper (I only use recycled/used/junk mail etc for the paper).

The results.....perfect Poinsettia and Daisy petals :)  No "dangling chads."  The only problem is I used green....had I been actually thinking I would have used yellows and golds.  Next time :)  I was a Gal on a Mission.
Both cutting Machines worked as advertised and I liked them both very much.  The Big Shot Pro weighs 44 lbs (per their website)  and the Big Shot weighs 7 lbs 9 oz in on my scale, their website says 7lbs 5 oz.  Both machines have open flat beds and do not fold up for storage.   The Big Shot Express weighs 9lbs 6 oz (as per Sizzix website).  The machines are heavy. I chose the Big Shot because of it's size and I keep it on the floor under my cutting table when not in use.

The machine's I used did not move when I was cranking the handle to get the die through the machine.  The weight and the rubber feet seemed to keep them in place.  I was able to cut (using the Sizzix Bigz Sunflower and Poinsettia Petals) up to 10 layers of cotton fabrics and still get precise cuts.  It also cut 4 layers of denim without a problem.  Once the fabric becomes too high the "die sandwich" will not go through the Big Shot any longer.  So there is a limit on the layers of fabric it will cut.  I cut one layer of woof felt and up to 4 layers of card stock.  I liked the price of the Cutting Machines.  The prices of the dies vary from 19.99 all the way up to 89.99.
I really like the repeating dies that cut one shape in the same size several times.

If using your hands has become difficult you can get the Big Shot Express that simply plugs into the wall.
Although I have not done any embossing in my scrapbooking or fiber life both of these machines have embossing plates.  I like that I can cut paper, cardstock as well as a variety of fabrics.  The machines are compatible with most everything Sizzix makes, I don't own any of those other items so I can't give them a review at this time.

I"m sure I will learn more as time goes by and I use my Big Shot more.  None of the items I reviewed were given to me, I purchased everything and was not asked by anyone to do this review. 



  1. Kelly, that looks like a fun machine to have and use. I'll be interested to see what projects you come up with to continue testing it out!


  2. Ok, I want this one, lol.
    I love the idea of cutting out shapes.
    I saw one that you could cut fabric with and use the computer to make designs for it? That to me, would be the ultimate cutter, especially if I could make my own designs.


  3. Its a good idea to put paper on top and this looks like a good machine to have :)

  4. So in your opinion, which do you like more, the go cutter or this one? Your post was very informative and I enjoyed it, you keep my attention and for me that is hard to do.... now where is that M & M????

  5. I saw this very same machine at my local quilt show last Friday, I loved it. I watched the lady demo it for about 30 mins.

  6. I would love to hear about creating my own designs as well (Debbie's question from above).

    I am curious about this machine vs the Go as well. I guess I'll have to do a little research!


  7. Well, look at that! The cutter is sexy... Checker is in Maumee? You lucky lady...

    When are you going to visit the Hickory Farms HQ? I wanna see some beefstick! Bwhahahaahaha!


  8. I have seen the Big Shot and Big Shot Pro at the CHA show. Very exciting news about the Big Shot Express. Love the ability to plug in and cut, plus the acrylic mat vs plastic mat. Way cool.

    I'll be eager to see what you create with yours. I'm sure it will make beautiful projects (incl scrapbook projects too).


  9. I'm also curious about this machine and the Go. Which machine do you prefer. Thanks for the review, very informative.

  10. I am so glad that you did a post on the sizzix machines. You know how much I love the Vagabond. I can't wait to get mine...I have a deposit on it and I am waiting for shipment. Did you actually see the vagabond work? How did you like it in comparison with the electronic Big Shot?

  11. Have you tried the accuquilt cutters? If so how did the Sizzix compare to them?


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More Later-Beth


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