Best Fabric Cutting Tools for Quilters

Updated: Feb 16

Having the right tools for the job helps in any endeavor, but it's especially true when it comes to quilting. Whether you're working on simple squares or complex cuts, quilting cutting tools that work quickly, cleanly, and effectively reduce frustration and help you complete tasks faster. Read on to learn more about quilting fabric cutting tools sure to make your creative life much easier.


Quilting Cutting Tools for Novices


When you're first starting out, consider all-inclusive beginner's quilting kits that feature essential tools in one handy pack. For example, the Dritz quilt kit comes with basic tools, including a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, and quilting technique book with illustrations, and it's available at Amazon with affordable pricing for easy ordering. With this kit that includes several start-to-finish quilting tutorials, all you need to get started is a cutting mat that puts some protective padding between your quilting cutting tools and the table.


Perfectly Sized Quilting Cutting Mats


Available from trusted brands such as Olfa and Martelli, cutting mats come in a variety of sizes, depending on the size of the fabric you plan on cutting. Large cutting mats work great for patchwork and fat quarter cutting, medium ones make an excellent choice for Celtic squares, and small, compact mats are just the thing for trimming out flying geese formations. Most have precision-marked fractional inches to aid you with accurate measuring on the fly, and self-healing cutting mats repair themselves every time you cut quilt pieces on their surface, ensuring extended durability for heavy users.


Scissors, Shears, and Snips for Quilters


Additionally, all quilters — beginner and expert alike — need high-quality scissors that glide through fabric like a knife through butter. Top-notch options from brands such as KAI come in a variety of styles, including bent-handled shears and scissors with finely serrated blades that keep multiple layers of fabric straight while you cut out your template or pattern. A small pair of snips is also essential for trimming down stray threads once you join your quilt blocks via your sewing machine, and seam rippers help you cleanly remove stitches that need repair.


Rotary Cutters for Trimming Quilt Blocks



While scissors and pinking shears serve as excellent fabric cutters, using these quilting cutting tools isn't very practical when you need to trim down large batches of quilt squares. Fortunately, rotary cutters make big jobs a breeze by letting you cut multiple layers of fabric with just the push of a tool. These versatile fabric cutters roll smoothly, helping you create evenly curved quilt pieces, and they're also economical because they use replacement blades. For projects that require precision, OLFA carries a rotary cutter designed specifically to create perfect circles, and for comfortable use, that offer options with ergonomic handles that ensure comfortable use.


More advanced quilters looking to bring some pizzazz to their creations may want to add specialty quilting cutting tools to their crafting space. Alternative rotary cutter blades, for example, let you cut fancy wave and scalloped shapes without the need for expensive decorative scissors. Keep in mind that rotary cutters come in two sizes, depending on the type of quilting project you're planning. Both sizes work with replaceable rotary cutter blades for hassle-free cutting. These sizes include:

  • 45-millimeter rotary cutters: Designed for all-purpose use, 45-millimeter rotary cutters glide through thick single quilt pieces or a couple of layers of thinner fabric.

  • 60-millimeter rotary cutters: Use these quilting cutting tools for thicker-than-usual materials such as quilt batting and foam. These rotary cutters also reliably cut through multiple layers of fabric.

Templates for Creating Precision Quilt Blocks


Save time by using premade templates with a rotary cutter to cut out your quilting blocks. Templates come in a variety of basic shapes, including circular, triangular and square, and they're usually made from exceptionally sturdy material that lasts the long haul, even if you use them frequently in your quilting projects. While you can use free patterns you find in magazines or online to achieve the same precision shapes, quilting templates help you build custom designs on the fly with multiple size options that seamlessly scale down to balance your layout.


Quilting Rulers for Fabric Cutting


The old adage about measuring twice and cutting once holds true when it comes to quilting, and rulers designed especially for quilters help you with precision cuts while saving time. Quilting rulers with scalable shapes help you keep your design well balanced, and those marked with standard measurements for quilt squares take the guesswork out of fabric cutting for novices. Many have oversize designs that hold your fabric flat for marking, and they're usually transparent so you can see how fabric under the quilting rulers aligns with your design. For added convenience, many quilting rulers include nonslip backing to keep them in place while you work.


Manual Cutters and Electronic Cutting Machines


Not just for paper crafting and scrapbooking, manual cutters and electronic cutting machines simplify the process of custom creation and help you craft fuss-free appliques that suit your personal style. Manual cutters such as the Accuquilt GO! Ready and Sizzix Big Shot Pro utilize steel dies to slice and dice preset designs, ensuring you get identical quilt pieces every time. To use these machines, you make a sandwich from cutting plates, steel dies, and fabric, then roll it through the machine via the side handle.


For those who don't want all the hard work of manual loading, fabric cutter machines may just fill the bill. Built to work with special software, the Cricut Maker lets you build a quilt block design on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, then send it to the machine. You then put the fabric on a special mat, replace the default blade, load the mat into the Maker, then watch as it cuts quilt pieces to your exact specifications. Keep in mind electronic machines work best for specialty pieces or fussy cuts, with templates being a much faster option for basic shapes.


Having the right quilt fabric cutting tools on hand helps both hobbyists and entrepreneurial quilters get excellent results, and a big part of that comes down to their quilt pieces and how they cut them. Knowing what each tool does and how it can help you in your quilting journey saves time and frustration while making your work much more enjoyable and satisfying.


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