Rotary Cutting – Cutters and Boards

Rotary cutting offer quilters the chance to cut out very precise and accurate blocks and pieces for their patchwork, appliqué or quilt blocks. The rotary cutter is a circular blade and is very strong and accurate. It can be used for both cutting and trimming.

Rotary cutters are very strong and will easily glide through thick, course or heavy material, or alternatively cut through a number of layers at one time.

A rotary cutter should always be used with a rotary board because the blade is very sharp and strong and it can often mark the board, table or mat underneath. A rotary board is designed to resits any cuts or tears made by the rotary cutter, and is also designed to prevent any slippage as the matt is made from a thick rubber-like material.

It is also advisable to have a clear plastic ruler when cutting fabric with a rotary cutter, as it provides a simple guideline for the cuts and prevents “shaky” hands from running off course. There are other measuring tools that can be used such as wedges, squares and diamonds which all have different degree angles to give the quilt a variety of shapes and patchwork options.

Rotary cutters have a very sharp, fine and strong blade so quilters should always be very careful when cutting as it is possible to very easily cut yourself. There is a blade guard so it is advised that you always apply it when you are not actually using your rotary cutter.

After long periods of usage (e.g. years of full-time usage) your rotary cutter’s blade can become dull and not cut as crisply or cleanly as before. If this happens you will need to change the blade or buy a new rotary cutter.


You will also need scissors when patch-working and quilting as the rotary cutter will not be useful for every cutting task. There are three different types of scissors available:

Dressmakers Shear - These scissors are very sharp and are used for cutting fabric (in place of a rotary cutter).

Paper Scissors – For cutting out templates and paper stencils or patterns. Do not use your dress-making scissors to do this as the paper will blunt them!

Embroidery Scissors – For cutting off loose threads and tidying up the back of the quilt. These scissors are small and very sharp and should not be used to cut anything other than thread.

When using a rotary cutter please remember to ensure all material that is cut is ironed out and placed flat on the rotary board (not accidentally folded) in order to prevent you from cutting an underneath piece of fabric or miss-cutting your material.