So you’ve just decided to learn how to quilt.
And nearly everything calls for “strip piecing.”
Time to buy a rotary cutter and mat….
…they look easy enough to use, right?
But there are some tricks to perfecting how to cut fabric with a rotary cutter and mat.
What You’ll Need
* A self-healing mat of at least 24in by 18in
* A long acrylic ruler of at least 6 by 24in
* A rotary cutter (I like the 45mm for cutting cotton)
* And – optional but highly recommended – a mesh glove, also called a Klutz glove (from my Amazon affiliate). Just a single glove, like Michael Jackson wore, but not quite as spiffy.
* Some fabric yardage!
How to cut fabric with a rotary cutter and mat
To get nice cuts, you’ll first want to press your fabric and then fold it once, meeting the selvages with no wrinkles in the fabric. This might mean moving the fabric left and right, because the side edges won’t match — the selvage is the only thing that counts:
To fit this on your cutting board, you might need to fold it again. Meet your fold up with the selvages. Be very careful – not matching your selvages perfectly can result in a “wavy” cut later.
If you have a large piece of fabric, sometimes lining up the selvages can be tricky…but just work at it. Whip that fabric into shape!
Now, line up the bottom folded edge with one of the horizontal lines on your cutting mat:
Grab your rotary cutter and ruler (the ruler is shown here with a little sandpaper circle on the corners so it won’t move as much when I cut), and channel your inner MJ by putting the glove on the hand opposite of the one you cut with:
I know what you’re thinking: “I’ll never need that glove; I’ll be so careful that I’ll never cut myself.” I know this, because I had that thought. I worked for several years without an accident, and then one late night, when I had an order to fill and strep throat, it happened – one slice down the fabric and into my finger! Ouch. Not worth it. Buy the glove, (Amazon affiliate) and cut safely!
Yeah, sometimes I still forget to wear it…but never when I’m starting to get tired.
Line up your ruler close to the edge of your fabric, along one of the solid, vertical lines on the cutting mat. Make sure you get all of the layers in without cutting off too much waste. Starting from the bottom, cut away from you, just like you would cut a pizza. Away from you, not toward you. Did I say “away?” Then lock your cutter before you place it back on your table while you adjust your fabric for more cutting. If the cutter falls and you’re not wearing shoes, it can plunge into your foot….ouch! And be sure to keep it locked and away from children when not in use.
Want a simple way to use your newly cut fabric?
Make some simple fabric napkins!
I cut my napkins to 14″ by 14″. I made the first cut to make sure my side was straight; made another cut 14 inches away, and then turned my large “strip” and made cross cuts 14 inches apart.
Then I took my fabric squares over to my serger:
…and made these beautiful rolled edges:
Here are some other napkins I’ve made with this method:
Now, certainly you can do the same project with your sewing machine, by making a 14 1/2″ square and folding over the edges by 1/4″ to the back of the fabric, pressing, folding 1/4″ again, and sewing the seams. In this case, serging is faster and creates a fantastic edge. We use fabric napkins all the time in my family — just wash them in hot water with your towels, and re-use. A pretty and eco-friendly way to dress up your everyday table.
Rotary cutting supplies can be pricey, but if you watch fliers for the big-box crafing/sewing stores, you should find a 50% off coupon to use. Rotary cutting will make your sewing projects go quicker! You might like this pincushion tutorial for more small-project fun with your rotary cutter.
Want to keep learning other sewing and quilting tips and tricks, like how to cut fabric with a rotary cutter and mat? (You might also like this post on sewing a strip-work stocking!) Please follow me by e-mail or on BlogLovin’ to keep up. The buttons can be found in the right sidebar.