Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rotary Cutting Mats

Guide To Rotary Mats And Cutters

I had a friend call and ask about buying a cutter and mat.  She knew about them but wasn't sure what to buy.  As we talked, she had a better idea but was still lost.  I offered to have her come over and try mine before investing in them.  She doesn't do a lot of quilting, but the project she was working on really needed the rotary cutters.

My best advice is go to to JoAnn fabrics with a 40% coupon or when they go on sale.  


You have to have a mat.  The cutters need the mat so they don't go dull.  I know, because I went through 3 blades in 10 minutes until I went back to the quilt store and bought one.  Mats come in various sizes from large to small.  There is no bad brand of mat.  Look for one that has some thickness for the blade to work with and that is easy to see the fabric with.  

My favorite size for home use is the 24x36 size mat.  You can easily cut large amounts of fabric with one.
From Embroidery Designs

The 18x24 is perfect for classes and is a good beginner size mat.  This is the mat I bought 7 years ago and still works perfectly. 
From Embroidery Designs

The smaller mat sits perfectly on my 6600 table next to my machine.  It's perfect for paper piecing and trimming up blocks.  You don't have to get up and move back and forth from another table.

From Embroidery Designs

Using a Mat:

Mats have grid lines for measuring.  Not all mats have equal lines though.  Same with rulers as I found out too.  Line your fabric up with the lines and cut.  I use a ruler instead of the lines.  I cut at an angle as well toward the upper right corner so the grid lines mean nothing to me.  Some people turn the mat over where there are no grid lines and use them that way.

Care of mats:

Don't leave them on your kitchen table for your kids to put their dinner plates on.  They will warp your mat.  I use my kitchen table for cutting and forgot one night.  The thinner mats warp much easier than the thicker ones.  Same with cold. 

Don't leave them out in your car.  They warp there as well.  I know some people have managed to "unwarp" their mat successfully but try not to get them warped at all. 

Don't leave the larger mats up against the wall.  They will fold over.  Most of the larger ones have a hole to hang them up on.  I wish the smaller ones had a hole and even when I tried to drill a hole, I made a mess.

Don't use the same cutting line over and over.  You will eventually leave grooves on the mat.  All of the mats I have are 6-7 years old and you can see the cutting lines.  I do move around, but there are grooves where I've cut in the same place.

I don't know if you should do this or not, but I spray mine with a a basic kitchen cleaner to wash the mat when it gets dirty.  I don't do it often.  If someone knows how to clean off your mat correctly, let me know.

Mine have lasted years and have paid for themselves several times over.  Take care of them as they are an investment.