Rotary Cutting Mats

Rotary cutting mats are an essential tool when quilting. They come in a range of sizes from small to large. When purchasing one choose one that is thick enough for the blade, flexible and also has a big enough surface to cut on.

The mats are self-healing which means that they are not easily damaged by the rotary cutter when used properly and they do not damage the rotary cutter. The first one I purchased I am still using but there are grooves where I've cut in the same place repeatedly, so take care to not use the same cutting line over and over.


Mr. Yoshio Okada, founder of the Olfa Co., watched a television program that caught his attention while in Europe in the late 1970s. It showed a tailor cutting silk with bulky scissors that left jagged and frayed edges. Nine months later the first rotary cutter was born.

It was initially designed for the clothing industry but in the early 1980s quilters transformed quilting by converting from scissors to this revolutionary tool.

The cutting mats on the market today have grid lines with marked angles for precise cutting. They come in a range of sizes and you can also purchase a rotating cutting mat that allows you to cut smaller pieces without moving around the table. I love mine! It feels like a lazy suzie server and works in a similar way. Another revolutionary change for quilters.

Care Tips

1. The one problem quilters experience with these mats is that they can warp when exposed to sun or stored inappropriately. This is easily rectified by using warmth and weight to flatten them again. One word of caution however, is once the mat is flattened out, the markings need to be checked for accuracy since the material may have expanded and then contracted unevenly.

2. To maintain the self-healing ability remember to not cut on the same line over and over.

3. Clean your mat using a lint roller. This removes the build up of lint without harming the mat.

4. Ensure your rotary cutter is always sharp and in good condition.

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