Using a rotary cutter

Using a rotary cutter

How to use a rotary cutter…

…Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ keep that cutter rollin’ rawhide.

If you watched the Great British Sewing Bee and you saw my cheeky chops on there then you’ll know what a fan of the rotary cutter I am.

Not a panoramic shot tended to go by without me having my fabric out, pattern unfurled and shiny pebbles cast on top and rotary cutter in hand. Well I thought I’d take a few minutes to say why I like them so much and a few handy tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

On the bee we were always under the pressures of there not being enough time. As such we were always looking for ways to speed ourselves up. Don’t get me wrong, I do love good pair of sheers but I always found that no matter how hard I tried I’d always nudge it a bit or disturb the pattern etc. Well nothings more frustrating than starting off on a new garment on the wrong footing now is it.

So on the lead up to the show I started to experiment with a rotary cutter, think pizza cutter but for fabric, and I’ve never looked back. It sped me up by a good 5 or 10 minutes per garment, and let’s face it when you have a 90 min challenge you need every little minute you can. I have to say it’s something that works for me, and I get an accurate cut every time.

Ok so let’s get down to the basics:

1. Don’t do this on your best work top.

As soon as you buy a rotary cutter, buy a cutting mat. These two go hand in hand. It’s important to take care of your work surface.

2. Go large or stay small

Rotary cutters come in different sizes. They can be handy for different tasks. The big ones tend to be good for large straight cuts, whilst the smaller blades work well for tighter turns and curves.

3. Pin free

The beauty of this means that you needn’t pin the patterns in place, you can just scatter a few weighty objects on top and get cutting. This is where those shiny pebbles came in handy for me, just seconds after laying out the fabric and I’m off and running.

4. The supporting act

When working with a paper pattern, I find that supporting alongside the cut line helps the fabric from shifting at all. Just a light hand next to it is all that you need.  If you do find yourself cutting fabric without a pattern then you might find a plastic or metal ruler helpful.

5. Please be extra careful

These little blighters are super sharp, with blades like that of a razor and take only a brush on fabric, and skin, to make a clean cut. I always wear shoes when cutting, it may seem a little funny but I like having all 9…sorry 10 of my toes!

6. Always store away the blade when not in use

All rotary cutters have a retractable blade, normally a little thumb catch on the side. Use them before and after every cut.

That’s that everyone, some quick tips to help you along your way. Have fun, stay safe.

Matt Chapple, winner of the Great British Sewing BeeMatt x


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The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!

1 Comment

  1. Carley price 4 years ago

    Thanks for the great advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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