A rotary cutter is a versatile tool that can come in immensely handy while executing any art or craft project. It comprises of a rotating razor blade encased within a safety guard. This setup is in turn connected to a handle which makes it convenient to move it around.
You can use a rotary cutter on various materials including leather, paper, and fabric. Generally, professionals prefer using this tool with a cutting mat.
This mat makes it easier to get precise straight line cuts and also curves. But if you don’t have a mat, you aren’t out of luck.
Can you use a rotary cutter without a mat? To use a rotary cutter when you don’t have a cutting mat, you can use thick cardboard or even the bottom of an old shelf in a pinch, but this can dull your blades with time. You can use the edge of a table to help you mark a straight edge. But in the long-run, you will need a mat anyway.
Rotary cutters come in varying sizes. You can choose the style as per your crafting requirements and convenience. You don’t have to fret if you don’t have a cutting mat to execute any task. Here is how you can use a rotary cutter for almost any task despite not having a mat.
How To Use a Rotary Cutter Without a Mat
If you want to cut long strips especially for cutting strips of fabric for quilt patterns, then you need to cut the strips accurately. Here is a step-by-step procedure for cutting fabric strips with a rotary cutter without a mat for your project.
Before we get into the steps, let’s be clear: you will need a sturdy and thick surface to use the rotary cutter on. Thick cardboard (or better several layers of cardboard) will work once in a while, but in the long-run this will dull your rotary blades.
We’ve also heard of using the bottom of an old laminated shelf (where it won’t be seen). If you have movable shelves and don’t mind having a few cuts on the bottom, this would also be a good temporary solution.
But in the long run, you will need to purchase a cutting mat or invest in a craft table with a laminate or similar surface.
Step 1: Wash And Iron Fabric
It is crucial to wash the fabric that you are using for your project. Depending on the type, the fabric may shrink a little. Washing and drying before using fabric for a project will offer you the best results, especially if you’re relying on a pattern.
Always have precise measurements ready before measuring the fabric. Iron the fabric and remove the wrinkles. This will make an enormous difference in the final outcome.
Step 2: Find Straight Edge For Cutting
While cutting any fabric, always place the fabric on a hard flat surface. Find the straight edge of your fabric. If you don’t have one, then you will have to fold the fabric in such a way to create a straight edge.
For creating a nice 90 degree cut on the fabric, you can match it up with a table corner. Make sure that the counter corner is straight. Before making any cut check that the bottom and the left edges of the fabric align accurately. This will help you understand if you are proceeding the right way.
Step 3: Use Flat Surface Edge to Cut Fabric Straight
If the edges of the fabric don’t align and appear slightly inwards or outwards, then you will have to trim the edges. Once you have two straight edges in your fabric, you can start cutting.
If you want to cut a square of 6 inches, then simply and mark 6 inches from one edge. Make a small cut or a marking where you need to cut.
Slide the rule to the other side and mark 6 inches in the same way again. Continue cutting with a rotary cutter to get the fabric of your desired measurement.
Make sure to verify if the edges are straight or not. Simply compare the fabric edges with the straight edge of the table. If there are slight angles, then you can trim the fabric with the cutter and make it look even.
Step 4: Check For Accuracy
The best way to check if you have a clean-cut or not is by folding the fabric in half and by ensuring that the width on one end is the same as the other end. Fold the fabric in the opposite way and check the other widths as well.
Tips For Using Rotary Cutter
A rotary cutter is the best tool you can use to cut precise layers of fabric. For a quick, firm cut, you need to keep the fabric on a flat, hard surface such as a table. Use the straight edge of the table for cutting the fabric straight.
Make sure to apply even pressure while rolling the rotary cutter through a paper or fabric. This will offer you a clean-cut fabric every time despite not having a mat.
For a high level of accuracy, always use a straight ruler as your guide. Roll the cutter forward while keeping your eye on the cutting line. Hold fabric in place with pattern weights to increase the accuracy of cutting while using a rotary cutter.
Cutting slowly can make the fabric shift. You can apply more pressure if you are having any issue in cutting the fabric. Once you gain experience and confidence, you will be able to cut several layers of fabric at once using a rotary cutter.
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