Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Cutting Tools

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Today’s tip is: USE A ROTARY BLADE!!!! Just do it, m’kay? I will confess that I have never tried cutting knits without a cutting mat and rotary blade, so I’m totally biased – I just can’t see how it could be done with any accuracy! 

One of the things that baffled me while watching The Great British Sewing Bee was watching everyone meticulously pin their pattern to the fabric, then cut with shears. That method is so slow, and as you cut, the scissors lift and distort the fabric. A rotary blade and mat lets you cut smoothly and quickly without pinning. 

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(Look, Ma! No scissors, pins, or even weights!) 

I have a large self-healing mat, which I put on the floor so that the jersey doesn’t stretch or distort by hanging off a table. I also have a smaller cutting mat that I move around if part of the pattern piece doesn’t fit the big mat. (For example, the Tiramisu skirt piece is wider than my mat, so I slide the little mat under one corner.) That lets me cut big pattern pieces without distorting the jersey by shifting it around on the mat! 

cutting tools large rotary

This is the most common size of rotary blade that I’ve seen. It has a 45mm diameter, which is about 2”, maybe? It’s great for straights and gentle curves. Keep your blade sharp, especially for thin tissue knits or cheap jersey – those can be the devil to cut, and leave messy fluff stuck in the cutting mat! 

cutting small rotary blade

This little guy is my secret weapon for tight curves. I’m not sure of the exact size, but I think it’s less than 2cm or 1”. I also use this blade for cutting notches into woven fabrics… I’m much less likely to cut too far than with the big blade! 

Here they are together, for size comparison: 

cutting tools

Do you use a rotary blade to cut fabric? If you use scissors, what do you like about that method? And has anyone had good luck with rotary blade sharpeners? I have one but I can’t get my blades very sharp! 


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