You gotta roll with it! - Why you should consider adding a rotary cutter to your sewing tools.


I know for some of you you've been using rotary cutters for years and can't imagine why someone wouldn't use one... but there's also those of you who are quite happy with your scissors thank you very much and can't see why you'd need one. So today I thought I'd share a few reasons why I love to use a rotary cutter.

Please let me start by saying, you should always put the safety cover back on your rotary cutter, even if you're only putting it down for a moment. Professor Rotary Safety says, "Safety never takes a day off".

Olfa Rotary Cutter

Why I love using my rotary cutter
*It's quick and easy to cut long straight lines

*You can cut many layers of fabric in one go

*It's great for those with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis or other joint conditions. If you suffer with these, buy a rotary cutter that is a straight 'stick' style with a pull down safety cover, rather than one you have to grip to get the safety cover to retract.

*A rotary blade will last a good few months of continuous use, once it's blunt you can use it for cutting paper!

*You can easily and accurately cut fabric on the bias without worrying about it shifting off bias. Good mats and rulers have angles (15, 30 and 45 degrees) marked on them to make it even easier!

*It's easy to cut round curves without having to worry about the fabric distorting as it's held to cut with scissors

{Via Olfa}

What you'll need:
To start using a rotary cutter you will need the following:
*A rotary cutter - they come in multiple sizes, my favourites are 28mm for small precision work and 45mm for the bulk of my work. My favourite is the one pictured above by Olfa, although I have used the one from Fiskars too.

* Replacement blades - You can purchase rotary blade sharpeners, but I don't find them that effective. You do not need to buy branded blades, I personally buy mine from Barnyarns here in the UK. I keep old blades for cutting paper and foam as I think cutting these blunts new blades. I also have a pinking blade, but you need a good bit of welly to cut through some fabrics with that!
{Via Olfa}

* A Self healing cutting mat - Buy the biggest you can afford at the time. You will need to place this on a solid surface, either a worktop, table, or a solid floor (it's a bit tricky on carpet), then you can lay your fabric on top and cut safely. You can easily clean self healing cutting mats by laying them flat in the bath and rubbing gently with tepid water and a lint free cloth to get any trapped threads out of the mat. They should then heal without leaving any cut lines.
The easiest way to damage a self healing cutting mat is to go back and forth with a rotary cutter creating gouges.
Donna Dewberry Cutting Mat by Fiskars - the mat I have

* An Acrylic ruler - These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I have two, one that's 6" x 12" and one that's 6.5" x 24". I also have a French Curve, but that's a discussion for another day!
Buy a ruler that you find clear and easy to read the lines on

It's helpful to add non slip dots to the back of the ruler to prevent it from moving whilst cutting.

True Grips - Available on Amazon

You can also get a shower handle from the disability section to 'suction' onto the ruler. This is great for picking up and moving the ruler, but also for pressing down to hold it in place.
Disability aid - Shower handle
Tips for great rotary cutting:
* Remember, safety never takes a day off! Always put the safety cover back over the blade before placing the cutter down, even for a moment.
* Keep finger tips well away from the edge of the ruler, or what you're cutting.
*Always cut away from you, not just for safety, this will make it easier to keep a constant pressure.
*Cut confidently with the rotary cutter to ensure good deep cuts with even pressure.
*Never go back and forth over the cutting line, cut once with good pressure, otherwise you may damage your cutting mat with gouges.
*If using a ruler, then butt the rotary blade against the edge of the ruler and go as slow as you need to, to ensure that you do not veer off away from the ruler. Similarly, try not to veer into the ruler, or you could blunt your blade.

I know I've made it sound really complicated, but it's not that's super simple.

Lay your fabric on the cutting mat, line it up against the markings and your ruler, then whizz through the fabric with your rotary cutter. Easy peasy!

I use a Fiskars cutting mat, an Olfa Rotary cutter and a Sew Easy ruler. I'm not brand loyal, or sponsored, these are just the particular versions I like of each thing!

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