How to Use Rotary Rulers and Cutters to Cut Fabric

  • 01 of 05

    Prepare the Fabric Using Rotary Cutting Tools

    Prepare the Fabric
    Prepare the Fabric. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    All sewing projects have pieces that fit together. The better the pieces of fabric fit together, the better your finished project will be. Although they are very popular with quilters, rotary cutting tools are not just for quilters. Many free sewing patterns require basic shapes like squares and triangles to make the projects. Rotary cutting tools are perfect for cutting all shapes.  Use rotary cutting tools to make perfect squares, rectangles, strips and more. Drawing these shapes free hand...MORE will usually result in a lopsided square or a trapezoid. Use these tools so all of your pieces will fit together to create the project you had in mind!

    You will need a rotary cutting mat,  a rotary cutter and a rotary ruler that is appropriate for your task. Using rulers that are not designed for rotary cutters doesn't usually work out well. The rotary blade will cut through a wooden yard stick and be dulled trying to cut a metal yardstick if you do not manage to stay perfectly along the edge of the yardstick.

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  • 02 of 05

    Align the Ruler Markings

    Use the Ruler Markings
    Use the Ruler Markings. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Align the length of the ruler near the raw edge of the fabric and use the dots on the ruler to perfectly align the ruler to the folded edge of the fabric, matching every dot for the same measurement across the ruler to the folded edge. We all want to get as much out of our fabric as possible so stay as close to the raw edge as possible but be sure you are cutting the entire edge so that you end up with a true straight edge.

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  • 03 of 05

    Hand Placement

    Hand Placement
    Hand Placement. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Hold the rotary ruler down with your fingertips, applying pressure while keeping your hands away from the edge of the ruler. As the blade moves along the edge of the ruler, it is rolling and will cut through a finger much faster than you would expect. Playing it safe is much better than spending time in the emergency room getting stitches. Sewing Safety

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  • 04 of 05

    Using the Rotarty Cutter

    Using the Rotary Cutter
    Using the Rotary Cutter. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Roll the cutter along the edge of the ruler so that you are removing the raw edge of the fabric. Do not rush the process while cutting. Allow the blade to roll along the edge of the ruler and cut while staying on the outside edge of the ruler. If the blade is not cutting the entire length or skipping areas, you could be not applying consistent pressure as you move the rotary cutter, or your blade could need to be replaced. Do not keep working with a dull blade!  Change a dull blade! A dull blade...MORE can lead to injuries and poor, ragged edged, inaccurate cutting. Just as you would for your fabric scissors, do not cut anything but fabric with your rotary cutter to keep the blade as sharp as possible. Also only cut on a rotary cutting mat that is designed for use with rotary tools so that the blade stays sharp.

    Not taking your time and keeping your hands safely out of the way, can lead to injuries that will last a lifetime. Take you time so that your time is spent sewing, instead of waiting for medical attention!

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  • 05 of 05

    The Measured Cut

    Align the Ruler Markings
    Align the Ruler Markings. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Turn the fabric and align the ruler to the new squared edge. Cut the fabric after you have set up the ruler the same way you did for the raw edge, at the desired measurements.

    Create a square or triangle by rotating the fabric and measuring the desired amount before making your cut.

    Rotary rulers have angle markings on them. Use those markings and your straightened fabric edge to make bias cuts such as bias strips or other shapes that are called for in the pattern you are following.