A cutting mat must be used with your rotary cutter. Cutting mats are available in a number of sizes from key chain size (used as a decoration) all the way to table-size mats. Most mats come with an inch grid silkscreened over the top. These mats are ‘self-healing’ meaning that after you cut on the mat the cut line will disappear.
Make sure to store your cutting mat flat. I have had students drive to class with their mats in the trunk of their cars on hot days. The mat curls and you can not get it to lie flat again.
Learn about different rotary mats in this video.
TRANSCRIPT: Cutting Mat; Encyclopedia
You will need a self healing rotary mat to use with your rotary cutter. Self healing means that when your blade comes out and you cut your fabric, the line, instead of causing problems on this mat, it self- heals itself; it disappears. As opposed to the line over here that the kids cut into my table when they were doing a project with the rotary cutter. This mat also helps keep your blades sharp. These mats come in many different sizes. Naturally, the smaller the mat, the less it costs. So let me move this.
This size is a great size for beginners. It’s about eleven inches by seventeen inches. The reason why I recommend this for beginners is because you can cut small pieces of fabric on this. But it’s also just big enough that if you fold your fabric a couple times, fold it in fourths, then you can these longs strips. So I also like this because I put it next to my sewing machine, it fits perfect alongside of the machine and so when I’m sewing, I’m able to just lean over and trim on the mat whenever. You can see that this mat has been used quiet a lot. I’ve had this for about 20 years now. So rotary mats are pretty good investment.
This mat is what I use most of the time. Its about eighteen inches by twenty- four inches. And probably the reason why I use it more than any other mat is because it stays out all the time. It fits perfect on a counter in my sewing room so I’m able to just walk up to it and cut my pieces. I like this size because I can cut larger blocks. Sometimes I’m working on blocks that are about fifteen inches big and so this makes it a little bit easier to cut that size. I’m not so much concerned with the lines on this mat even though it has some nice forty- five degree angle lines and thirty and sixty degree. I mainly, when I’m using the rotary mat, I’m using the one inch grid system but, it’s nice to have those other lines there if I need them.
This large mat is great for cutting long border strips. Sometimes I don’t like to fold my border strips because maybe there’s a special motif that I want. Or there’s stripes in it and it’s easier for me to lay that whole piece of fabric out, and this large mat helps me with that. I also like to use this large mat when I’m finishing up quilts. Now this is a small quilt, but it’ll give you an idea. I’ve got the back, the batting and the quilt top ready to go and I want to trim off this excess, but when I trim this off I want to make sure that I’m trimming it in a straight line. If I had a smaller mat, I’d have to be constantly readjusting this, so it makes it much easier on a large mat. The reason I don’t like this large mat is actually the size because it’s thirty inches by thirty- six inches, I do not have a spot where I can keep it at all times. So as soon as I’m finished working on this mat, I store it under my bed because all of these mats, you need to make sure when you store them, you keep them flat and you keep them out of the sunlight because they will buckle and they’ll be permanently damaged if you don’t keep them flat and out of the sunlight.
This is the last mat that I wanted to show you. It’s about seventeen inches by seventeen inches; it’s square. It looks like all the other mats, however its a little bit different because it has a swivel base. So when I’m ready to cut my fabric, here’s a piece of fabric. And you know when you rotary cut you always want to cut away from your body. And on my next cut ,which would be here, I either have to move my body over here or move the whole piece or if I have this swivel, I can just swivel this and cut away from my body. So you don’t have to buy seventeen inches by seventeen inches this one also comes in a number of different sizes. So if you don’t have a rotary cutter, ruler or mat, I advise you to buy one. It’s a great investment and will help you in your cutting.