How To Cut Patterns With a Rotary Cutter

We're always looking for a quicker and easier way to get things done, aren't we? From laundry, do dishes, to cleaning the bathroom... But how about a way to streamline something more fun? I absolutely LOVE to sew (obviously), but I think my least favorite part of sewing is cutting the pattern pieces out. I used to do it the old school way of pinning the pattern to the fabric and using scissors... or tracing my pattern onto the fabric and using scissors. But then I learned how to use a rotary cutter and my life has never been the same. So let me share my wisdom so that you can get to the fun stuff faster too!

How To Cut Patterns With a Rotary Cutter


This may seem self-explanatory, but for the sake of full disclosure...

You will need:

cutting mat
rotary cutter
pattern weights (recommended, but not necessary)

Cutting straight pieces

First thing's first. ALWAYS use a cutting mat! Rotary cutters are sharp and will mess up anything else you try to cut on! Also, make sure you change out your blades fairly regularly. A dull blade makes for sloppy and ragged cuts, which is something you don't want.

Thankfully, cutting straight pieces is super easy and a good way to practice. I will most often use measurements and a straight edge (like my acrylic ruler) to get precise and straight pieces. Just make sure your ruler is straight (either parallel or perpendicular to the grain of the fabric). Hold it down tight so that it doesn't move. And run your cutter straight down the edge, pressing down so that it goes through all of the layers you are cutting through. If you don't have a straight edge but have a straight piece such as a neckband, then you will just have to be a little more careful to stay right along the edge of your paper pattern piece without cutting through it.

Cutting curved pieces

Cutting curves takes a little more care, but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back to cutting with scissors again! With a rotary cutter, I will only lay and cut one piece at a time. It makes it easier to see what exactly you're doing and you are less likely to cut into something you don't want to. 

Lay out your fabric. Make sure there's a fold if you need one there. Lay your piece out flat on top. This is where pattern weights come in handy. Lining your piece with weights will help keep it from shifting and messing up your cut.

Once you have everything where you want it, carefully place your rotary cutter along the edge and cut SLOWLY. I cannot stress that enough. The faster you go (at least when you're first starting to cut this way) the more likely you are to get off track and cut something you don't mean to. The more you do it, the faster you will be able to go without incident.

When you first start out, you might want to practice on a few scraps to get the hang of it, but with practice, you'll be cutting everything with a rotary cutter like a pro before you know it!

Have a rotary cutting success story to share? Please do! In the comments and/or in the Bella Sunshine Facebook group! We'd LOVE to hear about it!
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