Things You'll Need
- Laundered fabric
- Iron and board
- Cutting board or system
- Rotary cutter
- Straight edge (optional)
Cutting fabric using a cutting board system can make creating precise cuts and repetitious shapes fast and easy. Cutting boards are sold as simple mats, typically with measurement grids printed on the surface. Most of the mats are called self healing because the cuts seem to disappear after you make them. These mats last a long time. Other boards are sold that include built-in straight edges and alignment guides to further improve the precision and speed of cutting. Cuts are made using rotary cutting blades.
Pre-wash fabric and iron as necessary. With a small mat you can position the fabric directly on the mat using the preprinted markings. Cut through the fabric to the mat surface using steady pressure and a rotary cutter. This will produce fast, clean edges for projects where precision is not necessary.
With a larger mat, or larger project, lay several pieces of fabric onto the cutting surface at a time. Some systems have fabric clamps that will hold the fabric in place while it is being cut. More expensive cutters use cutting guides made of transparent acrylic that ride along tracks. This allows the cut to be more exact. Some systems have additional guide arms that allow fabric to be reloaded to the same measurement for projects with lots of pieces that are the same size. These are usually easily removable when the project is completed.
Angle the cutting guide on more expensive systems to cut different angles without having to move the fabric. Complicated shapes can be cut without needing to reposition, this also saves cutting time and cutting error.
Use large rotary wheels to cut through more layers of fabric at once.
Start off with a small mat and an inexpensive rotary tool just to see how they work together. Many people find cutting boards and mats much easier for long, straight cuts and for speed of cutting.
Choosing the cutting board appropriate for your needs will depend on budget and the types of projects you make. Top of the line cutting systems are expensive but often perform equal to the expense.
Be careful, it is easy to cut your fingers on rotary cutting wheels.
F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.