A self-healing cutting mat, quilting rulers and other cutting tools are important. Accuracy is achieved using the right tools. The rotary cutting mat is the number one essential quilting tool. It is called the protector. It protects against scratches to table tops as well as your fabrics and rotary cutter.
It protects fabric from slipping and even helps to keep your rotary cutter blades sharp.
Quilting stores are a great place for learning about selecting the right cutting tools for quilting and a fun place to spend an afternoon. You may even want to sign up for a specialized class to expand your quilting skills.
They are full of the best and latest tools on the market. When you go, look around for other valuable quilting treasures to enhance your quilting skills.
Cutting mats come in many sizes from a 5-inch by 7-inch all the way up to a 96-inch by 48-inch.
If you are limited to one size cutting mat a 24-inch by 36-inch is a good all purpose size. But it won’t be long until you have several sizes and shapes including a self healing cutting mat and even a rotating cutting mat.
The smaller mats are a single layer of hard plastic and much thinner than the larger mats. The hard plastic surface is not easily scuffed. But be sure you read the fine print just to make sure they will not warp, crack, or peel.
A rotary cutter blade will usually leave marks on the surface of a single layer mat which may affect the cutting accuracy of your cutting tools. The purpose of a cutting mat is to not only protect your cutting surface but to also protect the rotary cutter blade from dulling prematurely.
The larger cutting mats and the most expensive are made of three layers with a softer layer in the center. They are touted as being self-healing cutting mats which is another way of saying that the cuts do not remain on the surface.
The more expensive cutting mats are self-healing which means that when the rotary cutter scratches the surface the cut adheres together without any visible traces.
The only function of the Cutting Mat is to protect the surface on which you are using your rotary cutter. So be sure and get a mat that fits your table top.
If you don’t have a designated sewing room the kitchen provides a good alternative for a temporary cutting station. You will find the height of the counter top to be elbow height for stand-up work and will alleviate the stress on your back. Give it a try!
Most mats have a 1-inch grid stamped on one side with 1/4-inch markings along the outer side. This grid is helpful in aligning fabric and squaring blocks when using your cutting tools.
Generally you will find two 45 degree angles; some have a 60 degree angle. Be careful how you clean any mat as the grid lines are only printed on the surface and will wear or wipe off over time.
Often time you can just gently wipe with a damp cloth… lukewarm soapy water and no abrasives or chemicals as this will cause un-repairable damage.
It is best to store all cutting mats properly but your cutting mats require special treatment.
Be sure they always lay flat and away from heat as heat causes permanent warping and they seem to have a memory once rolled-so keep them flat.
Or better yet, hang them with a clamp-style wooden clothes hanger that you generally hang dress pants with. The soft padding on the inside jaws of the hanger will not damage the mats.
So Ladies, when transporting your quilting supplies to your weekly group meetings you want to watch storing any mat in the trunk of your car for a period of time as it will surely destroy it if left in the heat.
Ditto for not setting anything hot on your cutting mat. As with anything of value, your quilting treasures need a little TLC!