Working with a Rotary Cutter

Follow along as Myles gives tips and tricks for working with a rotary cutter.


Rotary cutters are great for making quick, accurate cuts and for cutting through multiple layers of fabric.


Rotary Cutting Equipment:

Rotary cutters are available in regular and ergonomic styles. All rotary cutters come equipped with a new blade and replacement blades can be purchased as the old ones become dull. Rotary cutting mats have a self-healing surface that often has a grid printed on one side. They protect your work surface while keeping your blade from dulling quickly and come in various sizes. Rulers come in a variety of sizes, each one being useful for different sizes of cuts.If you are going to be cutting strips for quilting it's a good idea to get a ruler that is at least 24'' long so you can cut across the folded width in one cut. Wider rulers are great for cutting wider strips or blocks. Watch for different styles of rulers on the market such as the ‘True Cut' ruler. This ruler has a lip on the edge of the ruler the True Cut cutter hooks onto, keeping your blade tight to the edge of your ruler. Non-slip dots can be stuck on the back of your ruler to prevent it from sliding around as you are trying to cut.

Cutting Strips of Fabric:

When you are ready to start cutting strips of fabric, it is important to straighten out your fabric first. Once you have washed, dried and pressed your fabric, line up the selvedge (finished) edges.Keep in mind when you do this that your cut edges may not line up. Once your selvedges are together, line up your folded edge along one of the crosswise lines of your cutting mat. Next, line up your ruler along one of the lengthwise lines of your mat and cut your fabric starting from the folded edge, working your hand down the ruler as you go. Keep in mind that when you are straightening your fabric if you are right-handed your ruler and the majority of your fabric should be on your left-hand side as you cut.

Now we are ready to start cutting fabric strips.Line your fabric up again with the fold along one of the crosswise lines on your cutting mat. If you are right handed, you will want to move your fabric so the majority of the piece is sitting on your right-hand side as you cut strips.Now you will line up the markings on your ruler with the edge of your fabric to get the cut you need. Again start at one edge, apply a little bit of pressure and run your cutter along the edge of the ruler, moving your hand down the ruler as you go.

Safety Tips:

Keep in mind that these cutters are very sharp! When you are not using them make sure to replace the blade cover and lock it in place (if possible). If you keep the plastic case your replacement blade comes in, you can use it dispose of your dull blades safely. Whenever working with your cutter, MAKE SURE TO KEEP YOUR FINGERS FAR AWAY FROM THE EDGE OF YOUR RULER. You don't want to slip and cut your finger!

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