dear fellow seamstresses,
I was wondering if I should add a rotary cutter to my sewing supplies.
I sew regularly and I think I could save some time by using it instead of (or along with) my fabric shears.

What are the pros and cons?
Can you share your experience?
freaky-philomeen

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    Apr 30, 2014, 11.36 AMby Deanna31

    Hi, theres not many draw backs! You will need to replace the blade every now and then, as you will get nicks in the blade which will not cut the fabric properly. When you cut seams that come to a point and notches, you may have a little trouble cutting right up to the edge as the blade is round (but this is an easy cut correction after). Also the healing mats that you buy to put under the fabric, are only so big. So you will have to move the mats a couple of times for the larger patterns (I defiantly suggest buying the biggest mat you can!!).

    On the plus side – cutting sheer, fraying, fabrics that shift about all over the place, and difficult fabrics is a breeze. I don’t even bother pinning it in place – just a weight or your hand is ok. You don’t have to cut a little bit, then open the scissors, move it forward and cut a little bit more – just one swipe of the blade and its done. Because the whole process is easier it saves a lot of time. Also the cut of the fabric is nice and straight – not jagged like some scissor cutting can do.

    If you buy the rotary blade – make sure you get one that is secure and doesn’t wobble from side to side like some manufactures make. One that sits flat against the side.

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    May 1, 2014, 08.47 PMby freaky-philomeen

    hi deanna, thanks so much for taking time to answer my question. Oh and all those things I would not think about like blades! Very interesting, especially what you say about difficult fabrics…I thought it was the other way round (that difficult fabrics can be, well… difficult to be cut with a rotary cutter). I think I will borrow one to see if I like it ;))

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    May 2, 2014, 03.11 PMby Dot Neveragain

    You should! My daughter-in-law with the AA in sewing scared me off rotary cutters for years (said they wouldn’t cut curves). But I love mine and they do cut curves! I never told her I defected, but have to smile when she complains about cutting georgette. I also got a grand big healing mat, as big as a cutting table—don’t make me go measure it, but I know it’s as large as the equivalent folding cardboard ones, except it doesn’t fold, of course—so in fact you can get both large and small ones. If you shop around you don’t have to pay top price, either (Amazon is never the bottom line best price).

    1 Reply
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    May 3, 2014, 10.24 PMby jen .ss1

    There always instances when scissors will be needed, but a rotary cutter can be useful. I mainly only use mine for cutting things like bias strips, for which it is quite useful. I think that the main disadvantage is the cost of a large healing mat, and in my case, the lack of storage for a large mat when its not in use. So, I have an 18×24″ mat this is good for small projects, but not for garment cutting (which in my small apartment, must be done on the floor).

    1 Reply
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      May 5, 2014, 05.04 PMby freaky-philomeen

      thank you, jenss! Well, the lack of storage space…same here ;)
      aha, I can really imagine cutting bias strips this way…why didn’t I think of that?

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    May 11, 2014, 10.34 AMby slitherydee

    I love my rotary cutter. It’s a huge time saver and I can’t recommend it enough. I have a small one, 25mm, so it fits pretty much any curve. There is a smaller one 18mm, which is hard to find blades for, but if you’re cutting out really tiny things like stuffed animal patterns it’s probably a good idea. It makes for super accurate cutting and there is no more need for pinning! I hate pinning. It also saves your hands from RSI if you’re cutting out lots of fabric.

    Downsides are that the blades are kind of pricey. It’s recommended that you change them out every 3 or 4 projects but I don’t think anyone does that. There are sharpeners but they get terrible reviews. Most people use the blades until they get dull, which can be dangerous.

    I have cut myself a couple of times trying to get the fabric to cut and forgetting my hand placement when going over a stubborn bit. My SO bought me some sous chef gloves ($10 on Amazon) because he was worried I’d cut off a finger. It sounds funny but the blades, even when they’re dull, are razor blade sharp and I have seem some nasty injuries right down to the bone. I had a small heart attack when I accidentally dropped mine once because I don’t wear shoes when I sew!

    Another thing to mention about the healing mats, they warp if you store them upright so you need to find someplace large enough to store this big flat thing.

  • Iphone_pictures_037_large

    May 12, 2014, 11.14 AMby Deanna31

    I store mine upright, but I put all my shoe boxes and other boxes against it to keep it flat against the wall. Don’t leave it in the sun though – mine warped really badly after doing that

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    Jul 1, 2014, 05.04 PMby katexxxxxx

    I use rotary cutters for garment cutting. BiIIIg mats (several of them!), and a selection of different sized bladed cutters will help: big ones for long straight cuts and gentle curves, smaller ones for tighter curves. Like any skill, they take time to learn to use and perfect the techniques. Fab for cutting light weight fabrics and bias cut things, and self bias bindings.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 12.01 PMby arisaid

    Roatary cutter yes – plus a good ruler too. I use a quilting ruler and have a safety guard on it as I am really clumsy. To prolong the life of your cutter once the blade starts to blunt just turn it over. Also make sure you clean the blade to get all the fluff etc off it. I have a tiny cutter which is great for “unsewing”. Get the largest mat you can afford.

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    Jul 2, 2014, 12.23 PMby mbuchanan1

    Definitely rotary cutter. I bought my first cutter and mats on sale about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back. To solve the storage problem, I bought two smaller mats ( 24 in x 36 in) and store them vertically in the narrow space behind the bookshelves. I place them side by side when cutting larger pattern pieces. I have different cutters for paper and fabrics. I use a new/newer blade for cutting delicate fabrics, save the older blades for cutting paper, vinyl, leather etc. I have the sharpener which works pretty well. It doesn’t restore the blade to the original sharpness, but certainly prolongs the life of the blades and good enough for cutting cotton and other non delicate fabrics..

    Nothing beats the rotary cutter for cutting cutting silk and other slippery fabrics. 1) The surface of the mat is somewhat non-slippery. It provides a little bit of “grap” and keeps the fabric from sliding around. 2) The rotary cutter does not lift the fabric up when cutting like shears do, so the cutting line does not get distorted. 4) You no longer have to pin the pattern to the fabric, just need a few good weights to hold the pattern down.

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