If you have an AccuQuilt or Sizzix die cutting machine, you might be wondering whether it’s worth the money to get strip dies, and if so – which ones do you get first?
Why Purchase a Strip Die?
The best reasons for getting a strip die (to me) are:
- Cut more strips at one time
- Cut strips more accurately
- Cut other shapes quickly
If my plan is to cut only one or two strips, I either pull out my rotary cutter and ruler, or get out my Shape Cutter ruler. But if I have 4 or 5 strips to cut, or more, odds are I’m going to cut them on my die cutter.
However, I think the most often overlooked feature of strip dies is the fact that you can use them to cut other shapes. I’ve cut squares, rectangles, diamonds, and even triangles with them. A properly marked strip die is one of your best investments to make in dies due to this versatility.
Which Strip Die Should You Get First?
There are so many strip dies to choose from, based on the type of die cutter you have.
The most popular strip die by far is the 2½” cut strip. This strip is used in a lot of patterns, it’s a great size for sashing, cornerstones, and borders, and is a common width for quilt binding. If you can only get one strip die, this is the one I would suggest first.
What Other Strip Dies Should You Get?
This is a hotly-debated topic, and if you ask 5 people, you’ll probably get 5 different opinions. A lot of it depends on what you’re planning to make. However, from my personal experience making and die-cutting quilts for the past 5 years, these are the ones I would suggest in this order:
- 4½” strip die. This die coordinates with the 2½” strip. Now you can cut 4½” squares, 2½” x 4½” rectangles, and 4½” border strips. Adding this strip cutter can expand your block possibilities easily, working on a 12″ grid. I also like this size of diamond a lot better – they are larger and easier to sew by machine.
- 1½” strip die. I use this size a lot for cutting sashing and narrow borders. It finishes at 1″, so it’s also great if you need to add an inch to something!
- 3½” strip die. This is a very common size for me to use for borders. This strip width is also great for cutting squares that I need for blocks on a 9″ grid.
- 2″ strip die. This coordinates with the 3½” strip die to make bricks, four-patches, and other common blocks on a 9″ grid.
Less Common, But Still Useful Strip Dies
Over time, I have added other strip dies to my collection. I don’t use these as often, but having them around has saved me many headaches.
- 1″ strip die. This is a pretty narrow strip, but they are harder to cut accurately by hand so I prefer doing this by machine. The great thing about this shape is that if you need to just add an inch to something to bring it up to a different size, this is the perfect one. The finished width is ½”, so if I had a 15″ finished block that needed to be 16″ finished, sashing the block on all sides with this strip will do that.
- 1¼” strip die. I use this size most often for flanges. Folded in half and inserted between a border or binding will expose just a tiny sliver of fabric. It’s great for a pop of color. Incidentally, this is only offered for the GO! cutter (#55109), but if you want one to fit the Studio, you can order one from Custom Shape Pros. Just ask for the Ebony Love 1¼” Strip Die. There are 7 strips on the die (more could fit, but 7 keeps the cost down.)
- 2¼” strip die. I’ve had a few patterns recently that have called for this size strip. After the second pattern of cutting these by hand, I finally got one. Lots of people use this size for bindings as well.
- 6½” strip die. I have a Studio, so I’m able to have 2 strips on this die. I use it quite a bit, surprisingly! If there were only one strip on the die, though, I’m not sure I would bother with it.
Strip Dies I Have, But Rarely Use
I have nearly all the strip dies available for my die cutter, but some of them see the light of day but rarely.
- 5″ strip die. A lot of people buy this die because they think they want to make a bunch of charm squares. I can’t say I have ever done that with this die, mostly because charm squares imply variation, and a strip die is more for volume cutting. Maybe if I had a bunch of scraps that I wanted to make into squares? Nope, not happening. But, some people find this useful, so before spending the money, think hard about whether you really will use it.
- 3″ and 4″ strip die. I’ve used these more in the past week than I have in the 5 years I’ve owned them. You do the math. Not that they aren’t useful, they just make really weird sized blocks. But for borders? Not bad. Just rare.
- 3¼” strip die. It’s still in the plastic.
- ½” strip die. Yes, they make one, and for me it’s not for piecing. I’ve used this width when I want to do clothesline baskets, or to cut bias strips for crochet.
Is there a strip die on your wish list? What strip die do you wish were available?