What is a Rotary Cutter?

A Rotary Cutter is a cutting tool for fabrics. It is a sharp blade wheel, in a handle, used to slice through multiple layers of fabric and resembles a pizza cutter. Rotary Cutters also come in a variety of blade sizes, commonly 18mm, 28mm, 45mm and 60mm. The larger the blade size the more layers of fabric or thicker fabric you can cut.  The smaller blade size allows more manueverability. 

The blade of a Rotary Cutter is secured in a handle for safety. There are a variety of handle styles available, some designed ergonomically for those with physical issues like arthritis.

There is a protection mechanism to prevent the blade from being exposed unintentionally. Safety in using a Rotary Cutter is critical - always close the blade after each use and when not in use.

Benefits of a Rotary Cutter

  • A Rotary Cutter is much faster than using Scissors for quilt components. It allows for strips of specific sizes to be cut quickly and cleanly, then sub-cut into sizes needed for the quilt block being made. (Rember scissors and templates for quilt blocks?)
  • It is one of the most important tools, other than the sewing machine, that makes it possible for so many quilters today to accomplish what they want to make in the time they have available.
  • A Rotary Cutter should be kept in a secure location when not in use for safety reasons.
  • Decorative blades are available for cuts other than a straight line.

Supplies and Tools for a Rotary Cutter

  • A Rotary Cutter will work the best when the blade is sharp. Replacement blades are readily available. There are sharpening tools available that may allow an older blade to be refurbished and used rather than replaced.
  • Different handle styles allow the quliter to select that which is most comfortable for them.
  • Small Jar or container for used blades. Ensure the blade won't cut anyone while being disposed of. 
What I Wished I Knew When I Started using Rotary Cutter

ROTARY CUTTER is one in which "you get what you pay for". Lower quality Rotary Cutters do not hold up well and make the job of cutting less enjoyable. Always replace a blade when it starts to skip or miss sections of fabric. A sharp blade is also safer and easier to use than a dull blade. When changing a blade, line up each piece as it is removed from the handle to get to the blade. Once the blade is replaced, add the pieces back in the reverse order (first off, last on).

Rotary Cutter Resources