Once you’ve mastered the basics of sewing, I suggest you invest in a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. These products aren’t sewing essentials, but they can help you finish sewing projects faster. They also make your projects look better because you can cut pattern pieces more precisely.
What Rotary Cutter Should I Buy?
Rotary cutters come in several sizes. You should use a 60 mm blade when cutting thick fabric and a 28 mm blade when cutting intricate patterns. If you can’t afford to buy a few different sizes of rotary cutters, choose a 45 mm blade for versatility. You can add more rotary cutter sizes to your collection with time.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a rotary cutter is the price of replacement parts. Some blades cost more than others and some are easier to change. Olfa is a good brand to try because I feel like you get a good bang for your buck with blades and parts and you can find them at most fabric stores.
I also like Fiskars brand rotary cutters because of the ergonomic grip handles — they are comfortable and easy to control. Plus, Fiskars rotary cutters last a long time. I still own and use the first one I bought.
How Big Does My Rotary Cutting Mat Need to Be?
You should never use a rotary cutter without a mat. Rotary cutters are very sharp and will leave cutting marks on your table. There are two different types of rotary cutting mats to choose from — self-healing and hard surface. I think self-healing mats are better that hard surface mats because they last longer, but they do cost a little more and need to be stored flat.
There are lots of different sizes of cutting mats you can buy with progressively higher price tags. I think you should buy the biggest one you can afford. It doesn’t make much sense to me to buy a small self-healing cutting mat unless you are only using it for quilting. You need one big enough to cover your whole table. This way you can cut out a pattern and not have to worry about moving the cutting mat as you go. That definitely wouldn’t be faster than scissors.
If you’re designing your dream sewing and craft room, you should get the Alvin 48” x 96” cutting mat. It’s amazing because it will seamlessly cover your whole table, but it has a hefty price tag. A better budget option, that I personally use, is the Olfa 23” x 70” cutting mat. It has clips that let you configure the mats in different ways.
I love using my rotary cutter and mat because I complete sewing projects so much faster than before. Of course, a rotary cutter can’t get into small areas, so it can’t completely replace your sewing scissors. You also still need sewing scissors to clip threads, trim edges, and make little cuts on your sewing projects. However, a rotary cutter and self-healing mat is a nice upgrade as you get better at sewing. I definitely suggest you get a rotary cutter and self-healing mat set.