The question isn’t “what can you do with a rotary cutter?”—it’s more like “what can’t you do with one?”
This versatile tool can handle just about anything. Essentially a rotating razor blade with a protective safety guard attached to an easy-to-grip handle, the rotary cutter works well on a variety of materials, including fabric, paper and leather. When used with a cutting form or straight ruler and a cutting mat, it takes on both curves and straight-line cuts with precision and can slice through multiple layers of material in a single swipe. And, unlike scissors, you don’t need to purchase a special right-handed or left-handed version, since the cutter converts to either easily.
Rotary cutters are available in a variety of sizes and styles to meet your comfort and crafting needs, like the many models in OLFA’s line of Rotary Cutters. You’ll find Original Rotary Cutters in several sizes, ergonomic versions, such as the 45mm Deluxe Handle Rotary Cutter (RTY-2/DX) designed to reduce hand and wrist fatigue, as well as Quick-Change Rotary Cutters with a simple blade-release mechanism that makes replacing a dull blade super easy.
There are even decorative-edge blades like the Stainless Steel Scallop Blade (SCB45-1) that produce a scalloped pattern when cutting. It’s no wonder that experienced artists and beginning DIYers identify the rotary cutter as a must-have craft device. Here are the top 5 ways crafters are using this go-to crafting tool:
Back in 1979, the first rotary cutter was introduced by OLFA, and it revolutionized sewing, making fabric cutting safer, quicker and more precise. Today, sewing enthusiasts continue to depend upon the rotary cutter because of its accuracy and speed. It can handle any type of fabric without causing shifting or distortion in pattern lines, which can occur with scissors. Plus, the rotary cutter rolls right through slippery or stretchy fabrics like silk, satin and knits more smoothly than ordinary sewing shears, which can hack at the material and leave behind jagged edges.
Medium-size versions, like the 28mm Straight Handle Rotary Cutter (RTY-1/G), are perfect for making straight and curved cuts for clothing. For cutting into curves, tight corners and trimming seams, the Original 18mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-4) works best. It’s more maneuverable than its larger cousin.
Want to keep material from raveling before you get a chance to sew it? Or finish non-woven fabric like synthetic fleece to make a pretty lap throw? Outfit your rotary cutter with the OLFA 45mm Pinking Rotary Blade (PIB45-1) and cut away. The blade does the same job as pinking shears in half the time.
You can even add seam allowances to patterns that lack them. After pinning the pattern on your fabric, place both on the OLFA 24″ x 36″ Self-Healing Rotary Mat (RM-MG). Align a ruler so it is 1/4″ beyond the pattern line, run your rotary cutter along your ruler—and voilà, you have a 1/4″ seam allowance!
Nothing can turn out the numerous strips and blocks needed for patchwork patterns faster than a 45mm rotary cutter! In a couple of quick swipes, you can prepare pieces for all kinds of patterns, including nine-patch designs, log cabin quilts and more. Smaller cutters, like the OLFA 18mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-4) and 28mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-1/G), are sized right for petite shapes like the kinds found in appliqué designs. The pint-size blades on these tools slide easily along tight corners and sharp curves, allowing you to cleanly cut shapes in no time flat.
Does your quilt pattern include circles or half-circles? No problem! The OLFA Rotary Circle Cutter (CMP-3) is up to the task. This model features an 18mm blade that will smoothly cut clean circles with just the twist of your wrist.
3. UPCYLING CLOTHING
Repurposing old or worn clothing is all the rage these days—and a rotary cutter makes modifying store-bought garments super simple. If you want to transform a pair of old jeans into a high-low skirt or a handy tote bag, turn to the OLFA Original 60mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-3/G) to cut out the shapes before sewing. Or use the OLFA Deluxe 45mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-2/DX) to cut across the chest, just below the armholes, of a colorful knit T-shirt in order to fashion an infinity scarf. Slice narrow strips on one edge to create fringe, then add knots or beads or knot, and you’ve created a one-of-a-kind accessory. You can even re-size a too-tight knit top by using the 45mm rotary cutter to slice up the sides, then sewing a panel of lace or contrasting material to the edges in order to create a more comfortable—and more stylish—fit.
4. PAPER CRAFTS
Whether you’re interested in scrapbooking, card making, quilling or any kind of craft involving paper, a rotary cutter can be your best friend. Just as with sewing and quilting, paper crafts call for the kind of accurate, smooth cuts that a rotary cutter delivers with ease. Turn to OLFA’s Deluxe 45mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-2/DX) to create clean, straight lines or swap in a decorative-edge blade like the 45mm Wave Rotary Blade (WAB45-1) for eye-catching edges.
5. HOME DÉCOR
Need a valance for your breakfast nook window? Considering reupholstering your favorite armchair? Or are you thinking about dressing up your dining room walls with wallpaper? Keep your rotary cutter at the ready—it will come in handy for all kinds of DIY decorations. The OLFA Original 60mm Rotary Cutter (RTY-3/G) is ideal for use with heavy-duty upholstery fabrics and can handle anywhere from six to eight layers of material at once. You’ll be able to produce home décor projects just like that!
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
- Apply even pressure as you roll your rotary cutter through fabric, paper or whatever you need to cut. This will ensure a clean slice every time.
- Pair your rotary cutter with a straight ruler or curved cutting guide for the highest level of accuracy. Keep your head directly over your cutter as you roll it forward in order to clearly see your cutting line.
- When cutting several pieces of fabric at one time, align the grains when layering the fabric. This will ensure that your pieces are identical and will prevent strips or pieces from puckering when they are sewn together since the grains will all be going in the same direction.
- Pattern weights (either store-bought versions or heavy items you have on hand, like full salt shakers or small canned goods) can be used to hold fabric in place and further increase the accuracy of your cutting.
- Visit the OLFA North America YouTube channel, and browse through the many videos available: from changing the blade on a rotary cutter, to proper use and care instructions and finding the right cutter for you. Click here!