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I’m hoping some of you lovely people out there will share your experience with me. I’m thinking about investing in a rotary cutter as they seem more accurate than scissors. But I’m put off by the price of the cutting mat £30 for an A3 sized mat seems very expensive (and quite small)
1. Is a rotary cutter a good buy?
2. Is there a cheaper option for the cutting mat?



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  • Purplefan_large

    Feb 8, 2014, 10.28 PMby purplefan

    Rotary cutter-suggest you look at Olfa brand. There is an ergonomic model plus models with 45mm and 60mm blades. The blades can be sharpened (if you have an electric sharpening kit) or replaced. I have had a generic titanium blade replacement on the Olfa-darn item seems to need frequent sharpening once the blade is dull. What a hassle-stick with Olfa brand blades.

    There are some cutters with cartridges that have a plastic cover over the blade housing but once the blade dulls, you are stuck replacing the entire cutter.

    Mat-a friend gave me a 17 inch by 23 inch gridded Fiskars mat which is double-sided for quilting work (cutting fabric for piecing,strips or trimming ears off blocks with diagonal seams, etc). It’s a good size for small projects.

    The thing is for sewing, unless you are basically cutting blocks for sewing, I don’t see how a rotary cutter will work for points and curved sections if you are cutting fabric for a sewing pattern say for clothing.

    Invest in good quality mat and cutter/blades if you find that you need them for your projects.

    Quilt stores-they can vary in what they charge for the same items. Keep a watch on the ones closest to you for seasonal sales on accessories so you might get a savings on your purchases.

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Feb 9, 2014, 12.50 AMby katexxxxxx

    Rotary cutters are great for garment cutting, but you need to practice (as with any sewing skill!) to be able to do the kind of free-hand cutting that the irregular curves and shapes of garments need. Also, you need to be sure this is something you are going to do a lot, as a single A3 mat is not going to be large enough for a whole garment.

    I tend to use 3 or 4 A0 mats laid out side by side and a collection of different sized cutters for different things: larger ones for long straight bits, smaller ones for tight curves.

    The combination of mats and cutters really comes into its own if you are cuttings lots of chiffon, silk charmeuse, and other really floaty fabrics, where sliding the scissors under the fabric to cut can really distort it. Thicker fabrics like denim and corduroy don’t cut so well with the smaller cutters, though i have cut jeans and skirts this way.

    Most of my garment rotary cutting is things like self bias bindings, straight panels for historic costume skirts, tiers for gypsy skirts and net petticoats, and similar items.

  • Rita_for_burdastyle_photo_large

    Feb 9, 2014, 01.43 AMby rita61

    I have two 24 × 36″ OLFA mats tapped together with painters tape. I also have two smaller mats. I have 4 different sizes of Rotary cutters. I have two cutters of the two middle sizes, one I use for paper, the other for fabric. (thank you Thrift Shop) After you learn how to use them, they are awesome; but they do take some getting use too. I also keep my small scissors close by when I’m cutting, to get into fine angles. I sew every different type of fabric, and I also sew a lot of Denim and flannel. (I don’t post everything I sew). I would suggest giving yourself time to get used to them. I gave up at first, but tried again several months later after someone told/showed me the secret: keep the rotary cutter straight, don’t angle the blade when cutting. I wish I could explain that better, but after that, I’ve had no problem using them, and they are fast. Good Luck.

  • 2013-11-28_10_32_23_large

    Feb 9, 2014, 01.27 PMby PennyMac

    Thanks for the advice! It really helps to hear other people’s experience.

  • Purplefan_large

    Feb 9, 2014, 04.59 PMby purplefan

    Since BurdaStyle members are using rotary cutters for their sewing fabrics, I assume you have separate ones for specific fabrics ie. one for lightweight silks, another for denim, etc.? If a quilter uses a rotary cutter on non quilting cotton fabrics, blade dulling is assured to happen faster. Have encountered that in cutting fabric for quilt programs (outreach not quilt store run)-a few participants have quilting cottons but some get fashion fabrics that have poly/cotton blends with some kind of sizing and sometimes even printed rubber motifs or metallic threads—not suitable for proper quilting. My rotary cutter blade has to get sharpened. Once the blade gets nicked, a discernable snag or waviness is seen where the nicked blade section cuts the fabric. I don’t always have a spare blade but do reach for the sharpener.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 10, 2014, 08.50 AMby katexxxxxx

      Nope, it’s like the scissors: same ones get used for everything cloth. If they get blunt, like the scissors, they get sharpened. After a couple of sharpenings, I swap the blades out for new ones and designate the older ones ‘paper only’.

      It’s not so much the fabrics (though things like silk organza and polyester suitings can do it), as the cutting mat that blunt the blades.

  • Purplefan_large

    Feb 10, 2014, 02.16 PMby purplefan

    I have experienced some comments about my mat-when it gets the grooves, they are due to dull blades. Cannot win…

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Feb 11, 2014, 09.17 AMby katexxxxxx

      The cutting mats (even the self-healing ones!) are a lot tougher than fabric, unless you are cutting things like fiberglass matting or Cordura!

      Scissors get blunt far less quickly than rotary cutter blades. I use both a lot. So far the mats show little sign or wear after several years (the oldest is about 10 years old, the newest about four. The only one showing damage is the one that I put the table top ironing pad on and ironed a corner! It’s a bit rippley… ), but I go through blades at the rate of about one per wedding gown/ball gown/large historic dress.

  • Missing

    Feb 15, 2014, 09.42 PMby arisaid

    Fellow sewers please remember to clean your scissors and blades! Either use something to wipe them clean or wash them under warm water. This will help to remove any clinging fibres. If ‘someone accidently’ uses them for paper make sure you wash the blades! You will be surprised how much sharper your scissors and blades stay by doing this.

  • Missing

    Feb 18, 2014, 02.00 PMby Laura Dufresne

    • This is a question
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