Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#Tips2Sew: How To Clean A Self Healing Cutting Mat



There are a handful of tools I still have after 6+ years of sewing, every day. Recently I scribbled down a note that said "there's sustainability in legacy." This has been floating around my mind and as I work through what it means for the future of TrashN2Tees I realize how greatly it applies to our tools, our craft, and what we hope to leave behind.

The second most important advice I can pass along is to invest in quality tools. However, how often we forget that our tools need to be properly maintained. Our investment doesn't stop once you lay down the dollar.


CARING FOR YOUR CUTTING MAT 


How many of us soak our self healing cutting mats regularly? Keeping your mats moisturized will help it last longer. Using your bath tub, sink, or plastic tote mix together 1/4 cup of white vinegar to every gallon of cool water. Cool water is important, any amount of heat applied to your mat will cause damage. Soak your mat for 15-20 minutes doing your best to maintain a flatness in shape. Next you'll want to squirt in a dollop of Dawn dish detergent and use a soft cloth to wipe away and dirt. If you find there are clumps of fabric/fleece/lint that has become ingrained in the mat a soft bristled tooth brush will help you to loosen the debris. This build up prevents the mat from 'healing.'

HOW DO I CLEAN OUT LINT CAUGHT IN MY CUTTING MAT? 
After soaking your cutting mat, you may still find residual floater fluff left behind in the grooves of your cutting mat. This can be slightly annoying if you're OCD but it will also effect the longevitiy of your cutting tools and quality of surface. Here's a simple trick to remove the lint- use a larger rubber eraser, my brain automatically envisions the oversized BIG MISTAKE eraser, if you have that one... go for it! Rub the end of eraser in flat circular motions across the cutting mat.

PREVENT WARPING OF YOUR CUTTING MAT 

The number one reason for warped cutting mats (drumrollplease) improper storage. Okay so that's just my official observation. While not everyone has a permanent cutting table it's best to store your cutting mats flat under your bed, couch, or even hanging on the wall. Be sure that your mat isn't placed near a heating vent or in direct sunlight.

CAN YOU FIX A WARPED CUTTING MAT?

No, yes, I mean- maybe. While technically speaking no manufacturer can give you 100% certainty that warped cutting mats can be fixed. There are a slew of variables that come into play. It is possible to flatten a warped cutting mat by soaking it (as mentioned earlier) and laying it on a flat surface with an even weight on top to dry. Example: laying the mat with a box on top it. If you're up for a google search here are some other suggested remedies for fixing a warped cutting mat. 


I've been using the same large cutting mat since 2010 and it gets used almost daily. The table sized mats are really handy when paired with my rotary cuttter for cutting t-shirt yarn, garment patterns, or even for layouts using the grids to line up appliques and cut crafts with precision. In my book The Upcycled T-shirt I mentioned that the combo rotarty cutter/mat are without a game changer. Have you tried it yet?


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