Hey y’all, today I’m going to show you how to cut out sewing patterns with a rotary cutter. After I showed how to use a rotary cutter to cut straight lines, several people asked via my question form to get more information on how to use a rotary cutter to cut out a sewing pattern.
I made this video showing how to use a rotary cutter to cut out patterns, which you can also watch on YouTube here.
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Tools for Cutting Patterns With a Rotary Cutter
- Rotary Cutter
- Pattern Weights
Now some of my thoughts about tool preferences. If you’re cutting out clothing, you’re likely to run into small curves, and therefore a smaller diameter cutter is more useful. You’re less likely to lose control and slice off part of your pattern with the smaller cutter. I prefer a 28mm size, like this one (affiliate link).
I also prefer a thicker, softer mat. The cheaper, thinner plastic-y ones are fine if you’re cutting with a ruler, but a thicker one is preferable for cutting patterns. It slows your slicer, so you can be more precise. Since I only use a rotary cutter with swimwear and lingerie, this 18 x 24 size works well for me. (Affiliate link). But if you’re planning to cut full garments with your rotary cutter, the biggest mat you have room for will make that task easier.
Finally, you need pattern weights of some kind to hold the pattern pieces against the fabric. You can use random household objects – your phone, soup cans, etc. But eventually you might want dedicated weights. I bought these pattern weights from Thanks I Made Them on Etsy. They’re marble, have felt on the bottom so they don’t tear your pattern, and have fun designs on top.
With the right tools, cutting out a sewing pattern with your rotary cutter is as simple as laying the fabric and pattern on your mat, putting weights on top, and tracing the blade around the edges of the pattern.
I love the weights you’re using! I use rocks when I’m cutting my oven mitt pattern pieces! Now I’m going to find some extra mosaic tiles 🥰 Workanddream.etsy.com
I have used the weights that come on Mylar helium balloons for pattern weights. Sometimes they are heavy metal disks and sometimes something akin to concrete. Leave the cover on or recover with fabric scraps.
I read that you should use a fresh blade when starting a new project. However, that was for quilting, and that takes more cutting than for clothing. Try a fresh blade and see the difference it makes on your fabric. Then you’ll know what it’s supposed to do. Certain fabrics, heavy upholstery for instance, and multiple layers, will wear your blade faster.
I had the same problem with the blades and they would also skip. Then I found out that there is a right and wrong side or top and bottom to the blades. If they are inserted into the cutter the proper orientation they are wonderful. I felt like such a dufus!
Hi Donna: It does require some pressure to cut with a rotary cutter. Yes, the videos make it look easy — for the most part these are very experienced cutters and it often looks like they are not putting pressure on their cutter. The reality is, they ARE putting pressure on the rotary cutter, however since they have been doing this type of cutting for a while it looks deceptively easy. Just make sure you begin cutting before you get to the fabric — otherwise you will always have to go back and cut the first few threads. In the same way, try to cut a few threads past the pattern piece you are cutting out — otherwise you will again have to go back and cut those few threads. Anytime you ease up on the pressure on your cutter you may find that the fabric is not completely cut through. It takes practice, soon you will be cutting like a pro! I seldom use scissors any more as it is so much easier to use the rotary cutter. If you had asked me about that 10 years ago I would have laughed at you and told you rotary cutters are only for cutting quilt pieces 🙂 Happy practicing!