Rotary Cutters In Review

The first quilt I ever made was a basic 9-patch that I hand pieced and hand quilted, a little bit at a time.

Since I wasn’t sure if sewing and quilting was something I would enjoy doing so I was pretty reluctant about investing in a lot of tools. The first time I went out to pick up supplies, I thought I could get by with using scissors to cut my squares, but after struggling with cutting things straight, I splurged on a cutting mat, an acrylic ruler and a rotary cutter.

I chose a Friskars brand rotary cutter because it was a brand I recognized, it was at a reasonable price point, and the mechanics of it seemed pretty simple and it looked to be very ergonomic.

When I got everything home, I unpacked my fabric, set up my cutting station and got to work.

But, I still struggled.

I had a hard time getting my rotary cutter to stay flush along my ruler, the ruler kept on slipping on the fabric, and worse of all, even when I did everything right, the rotary blade would skip and wouldn’t produce a clean cut, even through one layer of fabric.

As a newbie, I figured that I wasn’t applying enough pressure on everything. So, I started using my weight to hold down the ruler and I tried to roll the cutter with more downward pressure.

Nope. The extra pressure just made everything even more inaccurate and it took a week for me to cut out the squares I needed for my tiny quilt.

For each quilt after that first one, I struggled with cutting, I watched videos and read reviews of my rotary cutter, convinced that I was doing something wrong. I changed the blades, practiced on scrap pieces, did everything I could think of to try to make the cutting process easier.

Then I decided to just go back to scissors. Even though my squares weren’t perfect, they were about the same as the ones I made with the rotary cutter and used half the energy to produce.

I never thought that the problem wasn’t me and when I finally realized it was probably the tools fault, I had a mental block about choosing and purchasing another.

It’s so funny because I will drop a ton of money on a lot of other things, but this $15 defective rotary cutter that I bought in 2011 was going to be the one and only cutter in my repertoire.

Well, J.D. finally convinced me to go shopping for a new rotary cutter this weekend and I decided to focus on finding an OLFA brand cutter because that’s the name that a ton of people recommend in my quilting group.

Image Source: OLFA.com

I didn’t want to spend a lot, since I still kind of thought that a lot of the struggles that I preciously had was due to user error. So, I wanted to stay in the $20 range.

There were a bunch of different sizes — 60mm, 45mm, 28mm and 18mm. I did some on the spot research and found that the bigger sizes are for cutting a lot of yardage, while the smaller sizes are for small cuts and curves. So, I decided to stick with the 45mm, which is the same size as the Friskars cutter I already owned.

Since I narrowed down my choices by size and price, I was left with a pretty easy choice.

Obviously, I chose the OLFA Splash because it’s a cute color and slightly cheaper.

I tried it as soon as I got home and I am in complete shock that this new rotary cutter is so damned amazing!!

One of my biggest issues with my Friskars cutter is that the blade would often pop back up and screw up the cut I was working on. It just took too much effort to keep the blade engaged.

Not the case with the OLFA Splash!

I pushed the safety guard up, lined up my ruler and rolled the blade across my fabric. After one light swipe of the blade, I had a perfectly cut strip of fabric — no skipping, no need for extra pressure, no slipping ruler! Just a perfect cut!

I tried cutting double and triple layers and it also worked flawlessly. I only had to increase pressure a little bit when I tried to cut four layers, but it was nothing compared to the amount of pressure I had to apply to one layer of fabric with my old Friskars rotary cutter.

I dug out my old Friskars rotary cutter to do a test. After three passes at the same spot, with the same pressure — nothing. I applied a lot more pressure for the fourth cut, and finally got through one layer of fabric. But not completely through.

So my assessment of it is completely accurate. My original Friskars rotary cutter absolutely sucks.

But I’m so crazy excited about my new OLFA rotary cutter because I really avoided starting any new quilting projects because I was dreading the whole cutting process, but now I can cut a ton of fabric really quickly and precisely!

I love this tool so much that I want to go out and buy a million of them! Also, J.D. remembered to find a 40% off coupon while we were standing in the checkout line and the bill ended up being about $8. What a steal!!!

Disclaimer: I included links to all the products I mentioned in this post. I found all the available OLFA rotary cutters on the OLFA website, but they were cheaper on Amazon and most would ship free using Amazon Prime. But, if you want the best deal, go to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and use their 40% off coupon. 

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