A Cut Above: Handy Accessories for Rotary Cutters
A frosted ruler, special blades, and a circular template aid in cutting.
Rulers, templates, and blade options improve and expand the ways garment sewers can use rotary cutters. Circular cutting guides and circle rotary cutters make it fast and easy to cut flawless fabric circles. A ruler designed for visibility over different fabrics is an excellent rotary cutter guide, and with the correct rotary cutter blade, you can cut pinked or decorative edges on fabric.
In general, rotary cutters make the process of cutting fabrics faster and more efficient. Since the fabric remains flush with the cutting surface, garment sewers can use pattern weights instead of pins. Quilters can make perfect squares with a ruler and rotary cutter, and no extra marking is required.
A few handy rotary cutter accessories available are described in “Essential Techniques: The spin on rotary cutters,” Threads #197, June/July 2018. More are listed below.
No matter which way you roll, always be careful when handling rotary cutters and blades. Because rotary cutter blades are sharp, always engage the blade guard or safety whenever your rotary cutter is not in use. Also keep rotary cutters and spare blades away from children. In addition, be sure to use a cutting mat to protect your worksurface and prolong the life of the rotary cutter blade.
The following accessories and blade options can enhance your rotary cutting.
Frosty cutting guidance
A clear ruler often is used in combination with a rotary cutter to measure and guide accurate cuts. Ruler measurement markings can be difficult to see when working with dark fabrics, however. Olfa Frosted Advantage rulers are easier to read with dark- and light-colored fabrics. Thanks to a translucent white coating on the underside of the clear acrylic rulers, black measurement markings, at 1/8-inch intervals, are visible over dark fabrics. The coating also gives the Frosted Advantage rulers a nonslip surface.
The Olfa Endurance Blade is made of tungsten-blend steel. A rigorous forging and honing process means the blade stays sharp for twice as many cuts as a regular rotary cutter blade. If you like to save time and change rotary cutter blades less frequently, these are the blades for you. Be aware, though, that endurance blades cost more than ordinary blades.
Olfa Endurance Blade, 45 mm, is available on Amazon.com.
Alternative blades for rotary cutters
Wave, scallop and peak, and pinking rotary cutter blades cut a decorative or practical edge on fabric and paper. They cost a fraction of the price of comparable shears. Also, if you’re a perfectionist, you know how difficult it is to accurately line up successive cuts with pinking shears. With a specialty rotary cutter blade, just stay on a roll and you’ll cut each edge cleanly, without visible stops and starts. Note, however, that these alternative cutting edge blades do not work with all rotary cutters, due to differences in blade shields and blade-changing mechanisms. Check with the manufacturer for compatibility with your cutter.
Available on Amazon.com:
A template for cutting circles
The Fiskars Fabric Circle Cutter enables you to cut consistent fabric circles quickly. The two-part kit includes a clear acrylic cutting template and a push cutter with a retractable 18-mm blade. The template has rubber feet for stability and 11 cutting channels. It creates circles from 2 inches to 12 inches in diameter, including 1/4-inch seam allowances. To use, fold the fabric, align the template over the fabric, and hold down both securely. Place the push cutter into the chosen cutting channel, push down firmly, and move the cutter along the channel. The small blade rotates as you cut, for a perfect circle. The cutter comes equipped with a cover for when it is not in use, and it features a quick-change system for blade replacement.
Fiskars Fabric Circle Cutter is available on Amazon.com.
A pivoting blade
For precision control over the diameter of each circle, try the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter. The cutter works like a pencil compass, and it cuts circles with an 18-mm replaceable rotary cutter blade. It is useful for cutting paper, fabric, leather, wallpaper, and other materials. An adjustable pivot spike positions the cutter on the material and the cutting mat. The Rotary Circle Cutter creates fabric circles from 1 1/4 inches to 8 3/4 inches in diameter, not including seam allowances. The pivot spike comes with a screw-on cap. The rotary cutter blade has a retractable cover and a quick-change mechanism. The handle’s ratchet feature means that the blade angle adjusts as you cut, for a smooth circle circumference. The ratchet feature is reversible for left- or right-handed use.
Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter is available on Amazon.com.
A parting tip for rotary cutter users
Dispose of blades thoughtfully. Because the blades are sharp, even after prolonged use, don’t throw a loose rotary cutter blade into the trash. Instead, fold and seal it within a length of duct or packing tape. The sharp edge will be rendered harmless.
If you purchased single rotary cutter blades and saved the cases, it is a good idea to throw out each rotary cutter blade in its original case.
Do you rely on rotary cutters in your sewing? What are your favorite rotary cutter features and accessories?
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