Rotary cutters and cutting mats are expensive. It’s hard to justify buying them when you can use a simple pair of scissors to cut out pattern pieces instead of a rotary cutter. Still, rotary cutters are cool because they help you cut faster. The good news is that if you buy a rotary cutting mat, it can last for over ten years. There’s an upfront cost to own one, but you’ll enjoy the benefits for many years to come if you take care of your mat.
General Care Tips for Rotary Cutting Mats
There are two different types of rotary cutting mats: self-healing and hard surface. Self-healing mats are the most popular because rotary cutters don’t leave cutting marks behind. A hard-surface cutting mat needs to be replaced once there are too many cutting marks and nicks on the surface. Of course, both mats are susceptible to more damage if your rotary cutter has a dull blade.
In general, you can prolong the life of your cutting mat by only using tools that are made for it. This means that you shouldn’t use pins and scissors on the cutting surface — only a rotary cutter and fabric weights.
After cutting out a few sewing projects using a rotary cutter and mat, you may notice that some fabrics leave dye behind on the mat and lint can also build up. You can clean the surface of a rotary cutting mat with a mild detergent and a soft cloth. Heavy detergents can damage the surface of the mat and might even remove the cutting lines. A lint roller is an easy way to remove lint and small pieces of fabric.
Storing Your Rotary Cutting Mat
Hard-surface mats are easy to store because they don’t warp. You can store your mat flat, hanging, leaning against a wall, or even rolled up. Some hard-surface mats also feature a carrying handle for easy transport and storage.
Self-healing mats require more care when you store them. They need to be stored flat to prevent warping. Never roll up a self-healing mat because you’ll never get it flat again. If you want to get a really big self-healing mat, consider getting one that collapses into smaller pieces and attaches together with clips to make storing it easier.
It is also important not to expose a rotary cutting mat to extreme temperatures. Direct sunlight can damage the surface and too much exposure to the cold can make the cutting mat brittle.
If you do a lot of sewing, you should own rotary cutters and a cutting mat. As long as you take care of it, you shouldn’t have to buy a new one for 10 years or more.