This is a review of my favorite brand of cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler. I use these all the time in sewing. They are great tools to use to make cutting easy and fast.
About the three-piece cutting mat and rotary set
This set comes as a three-piece set. The cutting mat has easy to read numbering and grid. It is a self-healing mat, which means the cuts don’t show after you cut on the mat. The acrylic ruler includes an easy to cut seam allowance added in on the side. The blade can cut through multiple layers all at once with a single pass of the cutting blade.
The rotary cutter
The stick rotary cutter comes with a 45mm blade that will cut through multiple layers and hold fabric flat for accurate, straight cuts without uneven edges. This rotary cutter features a symmetrical design that will allow comfortable cutting for right or left-handed users.
The blade retracts for when not in use to protect against accidentally cutting yourself or something you didn’t mean to.
The cutting mat
This self-healing mat has double sides. It measures 18 by 24 inches. One side is a lighter side and the other side is darker. The mat is big enough to cut full widths of fabric from right off the bolt. It includes one-inch grid lines as well as bias lines and other lines for simple cutting.
The acrylic ruler shows a highlighted seam allowance, as well as 30, 45 and 60-degree lines. This clear ruler measures 6.5 inches by 24 inches. The numbering is easy to read and has lines that line up with the grid lines on the mat. Thus this cutter makes for fast and easy cutting of strips of fabric.
Fiskars vs Ofla and others
My favorite is the Fiskars brand. In the past, I have had Ofla also. Ofla is a little more known the quilting world than the brand Fiskars. It also costs a little bit more. At the beginning of learning how to sew I would use Fiskar mats, rulers and cutters. Then eventually got the chance to use Ofla. I already used to the way the markings were on the Fiskar’s ruler.
What I own and use
Each of the manufacturer’s rulers looks different and their markings differ from one another. Each one comes in different sizes also. I actually own 3 or 4 different mats. A handful of different sizes in rulers and numerous rotary cutters. I have the very basic rotary cutters to the more aerodynamic style. All in all, it comes down to personal preference.
I know I use my cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter with each sewing project I get into. It can take time to get used to using it. You do have to use quite a bit of pressure on the ruler to the fabric to keep it from shifting while you are cutting. I would recommend that you buy some really cheap fabric to practice cutting on at first. You want to be able to cut through all the layers of the fabric in one pass, not multiple passes. So once again you must use enough pressure on the ruler as well as with the cutter.
My tips and tricks to using the cutting mat, ruler and cutter set.
I have found that using the set on a regular table helps till you can get used to using it on other surfaces. Having the height, not too high, where you can use some of your own body weight to press down on the ruler.
My next tip is to not just set the cutter up against the side of the ruler to start cutting. This will cause you to constantly nick the ruler. I found if you place the rotary cutter blade about an inch from the ruler and slide it vertically on the mat up against the side of the ruler, it will not nick the acrylic material of the ruler.
Always start cutting before you go onto the fabric and extend the cut to beyond the fabric you are cutting. This makes sure you get a clean cut all the way through without having a little bit still uncut.
If you are cutting curves out on your mat make sure to always use a smaller diameter round blade. This way it will not cut out gouges from your mat.
How to care for a cutting mat set.
The cutting mat
One thing I learned the hard way is to not leave your mat in the direct sunlight. Any excessive heat will actually warp the mat. And there is no way to get it to lay back flat again.
Another thing I do ever so often is I will take and actually wash my mat with warm water and dawn dish soap with a wash rag. This will help clean off the mat. Always store the cutting mat flat when not in use.
The rotary cutting blade
I do change out the blade every now and then. It depends on how often I use my cutter. After a while, I am able to tell if the blade is getting dull and I need to put a new one on. Make sure to purchase the exact brand for your cutter that you already have. I made the mistake once of buying another brand that was on sale and it didn’t actually fit my cutter. The diameter was correct but the inside part looked completely different than my current blade. Sure enough, it didn’t cut right either. Lesson learned on that one.
Replacing the blade is as easy as loosening the nut that holds the blade in place. Completely remove the nut from the screw. Carefully remove the old blade and dispose of properly. Next place the new blade onto that screw. Place the nut back onto the screw and tightened it down.
On occasion, I do just a basic wipe down on my ruler. Usually, it is fine and stays nice and clean. Therefore, if it does get some fingerprints or even some sticky residue on it just wipe it off with some warm water and mild soap.
Where to buy
I have bought my sets from all different places. Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and even Amazon sells these mat sets. Makes sure and pay attention to the brands on these mats. The cheaper ones do work but the mat isn’t high quality and doesn’t self-heal well at all. If you catch them on sale at one of the local crafts stores then snatch it up. If not, I have found that Amazon sells them for cheaper without them being on sale. Here is a link to Amazon of the specific set I have described here in this article.
This set is a great must have set if you are a beginner or even an advanced sewer. If someone you know is just getting into sewing this would make an excellent gift for them. Having the right tools to do any type of job or project will make doing that project so much easier and fun. You can never have too many sewing accessories. The more the merrier I say.