Rotary cutter and ruler

Rotary cutter and ruler

The rotary cutter has made a huge difference to cuting fabric, particularly for quilting.  Although I still use scissors for cutting curves, I will always use my rotary cutter for cutting straight lines.  The downside is that they are sharp instruments and they need to be used safely.

The beauty of a rotary cutter is that you can cut up to four layers of fabric at a time.  Not only does this save time, but you are secure in the knowledge that the squares you have cut are exactly the same size as each other.

If you decide to buy a rotary cutter, then you really have to buy and a mat and ruler at the same time.  The blade of the cutter is very sharp and can only be used safely on a cutting mat, never on a table.

Cutting mats and rulers

Cut strips of fabric

Cut strips of fabric

The mat I use is 24″ by 18″ and is marked out with a grid of 1″ squares.  Mats with imperial measurements are by far the most common but it is possible to get them with metric grids as well.  Usually they have markings for triangles as well so you can use them to cut different shaped triangles.

The choice in rulers is unbelievable.  Again they are available in metric or imperial.  they are made of strong plastic and they guide the rotary cutter along the line you wish to cut.  the colour of the markings varies and this may influence your choice of which to buy.  Some quilters might find yellow markings more clear to work with while others might prefer black markings.

Rotary cutters

Which brings us to the rotary cutter itself.  These vary in size of blade, type of handle, quality, colour etc.  They all have shields to guard the blade but don’t let your fingers get in the way while you are cutting – keep them firmly on the ruler.

Trim the edge of the fabric

Trim the edge of the fabric

Having decided on the width of cut you need to make in your fabric, line the edge of the fabric along one of the lines of the mat.  You will almost certainly need to make one cut to trim the edge of the fabric to make sure that all the edges are straight.

Hold the ruler down firmly with your left hand (keeping fingers on the ruler) and line the rotary cutter blade against the ruler just before the fabric edge nearest to you.  Keeping the blade against the ruler, cut uip the length of the fabric in the direction away from you – always cut away from your body, never towards it.

Move the fabric strip that you have just cut away before you move the ruler because sometimes there are odd sections that may not have cut right through.  It’s easier to snip these while the ruler is still in place.  If your cutter is not coping with the cut then change the blade.  It’s a simple procedure and will give you a clean cut to your fabric.

Rotary cutters are a great help – just respect them.

The video may help explain:


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