Tips and Tools: Rotary Cutters

We got this question from an awesome customer of ours…”I bought lots of fabulous Modern Textiles fabric, but now I’m scared to cut it! I don’t want to ruin any of it! Could you please give some tips for using a rotary cutter?”  We would love to! 

To make sure we are all on the same page, let’s start with the basics.  A rotary cutter is a tool that houses a circular blade that rotates to cut a continuous line.  It works great to cut fabric, but it’s really just one component of the process.  A self healing cutting mat and a clear ruler or cutting guide are also necessities it you plan to do a lot of fabric cutting.  (Or, in our opinion, any fabric cutting!)

As far as brand names and sizes of the rulers and mats, etc. it’s really a personal preference.  We would say to buy the best you can afford and definitely save up those coupons for the big box fabric stores or shop around online.  These pieces can be an investment, but I promise it will be worth every penny.  

Before we get started, can I just say to please, please be careful!  Rotary cutters are EXTREMELY sharp!!  They will most definitely cut you.  Keep all fingers out of the way!  

Okay, we’re ready to cut!  Lay your fabric out on the cutting mat.  The first step is to cut off one edge so it is perfectly straight.  This will give you a starting point for the rest of the cutting process.  Use the grid lines on the cutting mat to get started, then line the clear cutting guide over the mat.  Cut the least amount of fabric off the edge to straighten it.  To cut, release any safety your cutter might have and push the button to make the blade extend.  Use your left hand to hold the ruler in place, keeping all fingers out of the way of the cutter.  Start cutting, keeping the blade right next to the clear ruler, using it as your guide.

Now that you have a straight edge, you are ready to cut your fabric to the desired length.  For this example I will be cutting a 2 inch strip of fabric.  Align the straight edge of the fabric with a grid line on the cutting mat.  Place the clear ruler over the fabric 2″ to the left of the edge.  Again line up vertical and horizontal lines of the ruler and mat to ensure that everything is straight.  Holding the ruler steady, cut the fabric.  Rotate your fabric as needed to cut the piece to your desired length.  

A few more tips…

  • Check and double check your measurements before you cut! 
  • Rotary cutter blades don’t last forever.  They will dull over time and will need to be replaced.
  • Treat the blades like you would a fabric scissor.  Only cutting fabric will extend the life of your blades.
  • The above instructions are pictured for right handed cutters.  Left handed cutters just move the ruler to the right and cut on the left edge of the ruler.
  • These are just the basics to get you started!  

Please comment with any questions!  Thanks for reading our Tips and Tools this week.  Please comment or message us with your questions or ideas for future Tips and Tools!

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