How To Use A Rotary Cutter

How To Use A Rotary Cutter, learn how to use this fabric and craft cutting tool that will help you to make accurate cuts to make any quilting or sewing project

Making a new quilt with any size of fabric pieces is a masterwork of art, quilters know well that the first step to make any quilt is to cut hundreds and even more little pieces of fabric.

Cutting small pieces of fabric became an easier task when quilters got a new cutting tool: the rotary cutter.

Being a quilter, I can remember the first day a friend told me how to use a rotary cutter and we could cut all those small pieces of fabric to make a new quilt top in just one day.

If you’re new to sewing or quilting, you will need to know how well the rotary cutter works to make those accurate cuts to help you to make amazing quilts and other sewing projects.

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

To cut your fabric with a rotary cutter, you will need also a patchwork ruler and a cutting mat.

Related: 10 Must Have Sewing Tools

The Rotary Cutter

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

There are a few different brands on the market where you can purchase a rotary cutter from, one of the best well-known is Olfa, and I have used them in the past, I only have good things to say about it, the blade is sharp and it’s easy to use when cutting fabrics for a quilting or a sewing project.

Another brand that is well-known by quilters and sewers when we talk about a rotary cutter is Fiskars, I’ve been working with this brand for the last 10 years and I’m happy with their quality,

The reason why I keep working with this brand is that its ergonomic shape helps me to get accurate cuts on the fabric and it also helps me to do all the cutting I need for small or big quilting projects without feeling tired or getting a sore back or shoulder.

The blades keep well protected all the time until you push the button on the top of the cutter when you need it, the same button has the ergonomic shape to place your thumb on it as you use the cutter when cutting any fabric.

The round small button on the side of the cutter is to retract the blade and keep it safe. It works perfect every time, and it will help you to stay safe when you don’t use it.

Always keep the blade in to avoid any accident in your sewing room, and always keep the rotary cutter out of reach from any kid or any pet.

How To Use A Rotary Cutter – Prewash The Fabric and Press

The first thing you need whether you are working on a sewing or on a quilting project and you plan to use a rotary cutter to cut some fabric, is to prewash the fabric and press it.

It’s well-known by quilters, a well pressed fabric will always be easier to handle when cutting all those little pieces with a rotary cutter, as it will be easier to fold in two or four layers, (I don’t recommend more layers) and make the any size cuts as you need for your project.

If you’ll be working with a fabric that easily slips on the cutting mat, you can spray with a good brand of any spray for ironing.

Step 1 – Lay Your Fabric On The Cutting Mat

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

Lay the folded fabric on the cutting mat and be sure the fold is aligned with one horizontal line on the cutting mat, this will help you to see if the fabric edge is well cut or if you need to make a first cut to square the fabric.

Every time you move the fabric on the cutting mat to make a new cut, be sure the folded side is well laid on a horizontal line on the cutting mat.

Step 2 – How To Line Up The Quilting Ruler On Your Fabric

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

Once you get your fabric well folded on the cutting mat, the first cut should always be on the edge of the fabric, by doing this you can be sure the fabric will be straight for the next cutting.

You will need to line up the ruler with the folded edge to assure the first cut will be 45 degrees always.

Step 3 – How To Cut Your Fabric With The Rotary Cutter

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

Once you’re sure the fabric is well folded and the quilting ruler is lined up on the folded side of the fabric, press the ruler with your left hand to make enough pressure to keep the quilting ruler in its place while you cut, the ruler should not move while you make the cut.

If you’re a beginner, you might notice that you might need to practice this before you get accurate cuts, try to cut short pieces of fabric at the beginning to get familiar on how to make the quilting ruler not to move while you cut.

Step 4 – How To Hold The Rotary Cutter

Most of the Rotary Cutters in the market are well-designed to help quilters, sewers and crafters to get accurate cuts with different materials, but you might need to get one or two from different brands to find the one that fits better for you.

In the past I’ve used different rotary cutters from different brands, and most of them are excellent, and have helped me to make many different sewing and quilting projects with accurate cuts from different fabrics.

So once you get your rotary cutter, get familiar on how it works, most of them have a mechanism to keep the blade in and safe, you might need to push a button to make the blade come out and ready to cut.

You will need also to get familiar to how to hold the cutter while cutting, you can make a test on the cutting mat with no fabric to feel the rotary cutter first.

Step 5 – Cut Along The Quilting Ruler

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

Cut along the quilting ruler on your fabric, make even pressure with your left hand on the ruler and with your right hand on the rotary cutter.

Step 6 – Rotate Your Fabric

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

For the next step, you need to rotate your fabric on the cutting mat and be sure the fabric keep well folded and well-placed on the cutting mat.

All cutting mats have a grid printed on the mat to help you to lay your fabric straight on it.

Step 7 – Line Up The Quilting Ruler On Your Fabric

Once the fabric is well laid on the cutting mat, line up the quilting ruler on your fabric with the cut width desired, take your time to check if the ruler is well lined up over all the fabric and well lined on the folded edge of the fabric.

Step 8 – Cut The Fabric With The Rotary Cutter

As you did on step 5, be sure to make an even pressure with your left hand on the quilting ruler, while you make even pressure with your right hand while you make the cut on the fabric with your right hand.

On this step, you will cut a strip of fabric, if you are following a quilt instructions, it might tell you what size and what shapes your fabric needs to be, you will need to follow these instructions, and line up the fabric strip on the cutting mat to make the next cut with the rotary cutter.

Always follow the sames steps to be sure to make even pressure on both hands on the quilting ruler and on the rotary cutter to make even cuts on your fabric.

Some More Tips About The Rotary Cutter.

From my own experience, at the beginning it took me some time to get used to cut my fabric with the rotary cutter and to get familiar on how to use it.

Today, I can share the best tip will be to buy a cheap cotton 100 % fabric, any color, prewash and press it and make as many cut from it to get familiar with the rotary cutter.

By doing this, it will help you to know how to work with the quilting ruler and how to hold the rotary cutter to get accurate cuts on your fabric without to be afraid of wasting a pretty fabric you bought for a sewing or a quilting project.

Always Use A Quilting Ruler

How To Use A Rotary Cutter

When using a rotary cutter to cut any fabric, always use a quilting ruler to help you to protect your fingers and hands from any cutting.

Rotary cutter blades are sharp and can hurt you badly if it’s not use properly, most of the accidents might happen on your left hand, as sewers or quilters lose control of the cutter while making a cut.

Quilting rulers are designed with an accurate width that will guide the rotary cutter while making a cut on a fabric, this width is designed also to help you to keep the rotary cutter on its path, and will help you to keep on its path and not to go up the quilting ruler and hurt your left hand or fingers.

Where To Buy A Rotary Cutter

You can find a rotary cutter on the speciality stores shelves, but you can also purchase it online. (Affiliante link to

How To Use A Rotary Cutter – Closing Thoughts

When you love to sew and making quilts, it’s always great to find new tools that will help you to work on any projects getting better results in less time and making your work easier.

Once you tried for the first time a rotary cutter, and you can see how well it works to help you to make accurate cuts from your fabric, you will love to have a good rotary cutter in your sewing tools basket.

We hope this article helps you to learn more about this sewing tool and helps you to learn how to use it.

There are a few different brands of sewing and quilting tools that offer you high quality rotarie cutters, try one and check if that brand is good for you, if not, try one from another brand, we are sure as soon as you find the rotary cutter that is good for you, it will be always in the sewing tools basket.

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How To Use A Rotary Cutter

3 thoughts on “How To Use A Rotary Cutter”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I am not a quilter myself, but I do make our Halloween Costumes every year. I never thought to use a rotary cutter or quilting ruler till I saw how you were actually supposed to use them. This will make it much easier for me this year to cut my fabrics, which can be very time consuming. Plus, this will help keep my fabric scissors sharp for when I really need to use them.

  2. I was fascinated by your article on how to use a rotary cutter. I am not actually a quilter, but I am a sewer so as I was reading it, I was trying to envision how I might use such a tool for sewing and I was unsuccessful. One of my friends in Australia is a wonderful quilter and made a really brilliant wall-hanging quilt for me when my granddaughter was born. She is nearly 9 now and it still hangs in her room. I am sure that your really great advice about how to use this tool will be well received by quilters everywhere.

  3. This is a very comprehensive post on the use of a rotary cutter.  

    It is essential to use the right tools to be able to do a professional job and you have shared one of those in your post.  I appreciate the photographs as it makes the process much easier to follow.

    It is an excellent tool, which is a must for anyone in the craft world.

    Keep up the good work.

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