A rotary cutter, not only can cut perfectly straight lines with ease but you can also cut through many layers of fabric at the same time, all with great accuracy.
Now there are many rotary cutting brands out there, so here;
The top 3 criteria for a good rotary blade.
- I look for a small (28mm wheel) to a medium (45mm) rotary wheel on most projects, if I am just doing long straight cuts, then I look for the biggest blade I can get, 60mm.
This factor plays a couple of rolls in your rotary needs, the smaller the blade, the tighter curves and patterns you can follow without a hitch. Smaller blades are lighter in weight and simply easy to maneuver and store.
- When it comes to a rotary wheel you wnat to look for, ergonomics, or looking for one designed to work with your hand, not against it. This goes especially for left-handed people. If you are contorted while using a sharp blade as you apply pressure to it, you are a recipe for disaster.
- Finally look for something with weight. The weight of the rotary cutter can be a help in an even and good cut, without having to press almost at all, with a sharp blade and good weight, it becomes effortless to rotary many layers for your quilt at one time. The only way to do this is to physically go test them, at a class or maybe use a friends/relatives.
A Public Service Announcement from other Savvy Sewers
Please use your safety features. All of the rotary cutters today come with some component of blade safety, use it silly! It will save your skin…literally. Even the most careful of rotary cutters will one day bump into their rotary blade, even brushing it with the back of your hand will cut skin, especially if you do not have the safety measure engaged.
I cannot tell you the number of stories I have of people accidentally knocking the rotary cutters off of the tables and lacerating the tops of feet.
Alright rant over, but safety is key!!!
A cutting mat will be needed to use with your handy dandy rotary cutter. This mat will server to protect your other household surfaces from the sharp round blade when cutting out your material.
Check out our Rotary Cutting Mat Guide.
Rotary Cutter Blade: Maintenance
The last thing to know about your rotary cutter are the blades. The key to a great and easy rotary cutting project is a sharp, un-nicked blade. A sharp blade can be guaranteed by either buying a new blade (which sometimes, is necessary) or sharpening the blades you already have dulled. Of course, the most sustainable way to keep your blades sharp is to invest in a blade sharpener. I know they are not cheap, but in the long run they do save time and money going to and from stores, while also using the same blades much longer.
Replacement and Disposal:
Replacing a nicked or dull blade is inevitable when using a rotary cutter. When changing your blade, be sure to note the size blade to match with the replacement.
You can’t be too cautious when replacing a rotary cutting blade, they are still, compared to our skin, very sharp, even when dull on fabric. Wear gloves if you would like and always use tweezers to handle the rotary blade. Remember when turning the little screw to unlock and remove the blade; righty tighty, lefty loosey. 🙂
When disposing, always wrap in cardboard or a barrier of some kind before throwing away. This prevents the blade from cutting through the bag, and ‘=] injury.
Finding the Right Size:
It is important to match the right blade size with the right rotary cutting tool.
Here a few key steps to buying the right blade every time.
Find your rotary cutter itself.
The blade size needed will be printed right on the blade or, in some cases the tool itself.
Rotary Cutter Blade Sizes-
There are three sizes of blade and a fourth blade used in specialty circular cutting tools.
(I personally adore these circle tools and they make great perfect bubbles for your quilts and circles for yo-yo quilts.)
Small- 28mm, very detailed
Medium- 45mm general purpose
Large- 60mm time saving.
The 28mm small blade is used in projects with high levels of detail and tight curves, although cannot go through as many layers.
The 45mm is used in most of the rotary cutting you will want. Decent in most garments and quilting projects, while cutting through a very good number of layers 5-8.
The 60mm is perfect for cutting through many layers and is best if they are nice and geometric. (Long straight lines are the 60mm specialty)
Knowing the blade size needed is key to finding replacements at your local store or at online shops.
If you do not know your size/s needed, you can determine the blade size in a few ways.
Before you throw away the nicked/dull blade, take a look on the flat side, the size will be printed there, this will tell you the replacement size.
If you have no blade to compare I highly recommend taking your empty rotary into the store with you, this will help you compare it to the correct blade.
Depending on your brand of rotary cutter, it may have the size of the of the compatible blade imprinted on the tool, again maybe not, it all depends on your personal rotary tool.
Specialty Rotary Cutting Blades and Uses:
Specialty rotary blades are also an option for many rotary cutting tools.
–Scallop Blades which are used for creating decorative scalloped edges, this scalloping also helps to reduce fraying with woven fabrics.
–Pinking Blades, used to pink fabrics, meaning to cut triangles in the edge of so the woven material will have the fraying process slowed during use.
–Wave blades create a wavy pattern to the edge of your fabrics, and finally the
–Perforating Blade is used to perforate the material not cut it all the way through, can be used to make patterning in fabrics and leather.
These specialty blades are slightly tricky when using with a ruler since the blade cannot be pressed up to the edge of the ruler. They are great for freehand cutting and freehand edging on any project with ease.
No matter what the use, decorative or utilitarian, fiber arts or paper crafts, rotary cutting will change your artistic life.