How to Use a Rotary Cutter: tips and tricks for cutting patterns and fabric


Part of sewing is having the right tools. Proper tools can make sewing a quicker and more enjoyable experience. Using a rotary cutter to cut patterns or fabric is very helpful and let’s be honest… who doesn’t love a good gadget? ;) Read on to find tips and tricks for cutting patterns and fabric with a rotary cutter, recommendations, and things NOT to do.

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What kind of rotary cutter should I use?

When choosing a rotary cutter, you want one that is reliable and sharp. this means changing the blade often if you use it frequently or after cutting through fuzzy fabrics. You don’t want to use the same rotary cutter for fabric and for paper patterns, so dull blades can be “downgraded” to paper.

I have several different sized rotary cutters – smaller ones are great if you cut small pieces like doll clothes, quilt pieces, or baby clothes.

This Olfa 45mm is the rotary cutter I use the most for fabric. I also have and love this 28mm Olfa rotary cutter and this 18mm Olfa rotary cutter is fantastic for very small projects.

What supplies do I need to use a rotary cutter?

If you’re using a rotary cutter, you’ll want to also have a cutting mat. I recommend one that is self-healing like this Fiskars cutting mat. If you’re sewing a lot of adult garments, you’ll want a large mat that can hold adult-sized patterns. But if you are mainly sewing small items, a small cutting mat will work just fine. A cutting mat is important to protect your table, though.

How do I use a rotary cutter safely?

Rotary cutters are very sharp and can be dangerous if you don’t use them safely.

  • I highly recommend NOT letting children use them
  • Keep your fingers away from the blade at all times
  • Cut slowly when using a rotary cutter – prioritize safety over speed!
  • Press firmly but gently when cutting – don’t press too hard
  • Try to cut smoothly, continuously rolling the blade along the fabric or paper pattern
  • Keep the guard closed over the blade when not in use
  • Store high up, away from little fingers, if you have little ones in the house
  • Use different blades for paper vs fabric to prevent prematurely dulling the blade

When should I avoid using a rotary cutter?

Using a rotary cutter on thick or fuzzy fabrics will dull your blade, so I would recommend using scissors instead. Some fabrics like felted wool will also just be much easier to cut with scissors.

While you absolutely can cut fabric or patterns without a rotary cutter, you’ll be so grateful to have one! It’s an easy way to cut things out quickly and smoothly, and I highly recommend adding one to your sewing toolbox.

Do you have a rotary cutter? Or do you prefer scissors?

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