Tool of the Trade: Rotary Cutter
This blade does the same job as fabric shears in half the time.
Whether you're a crafter or a home cook, it often feels like there are so many tools you can purchase to help you get a job done. Which ones are really worth investing in? Our editors are here to help. From everyday essentials to more obscure must-haves that will take your practice to the next level, we're breaking it all down. Each week Tool of the Trade will highlight one must-have crafting or cooking item you need to know about.
When cutting a piece of fabric from around a template or pattern, you may want to reach for something else other than a pair of scissors. As a tool you'll find in Martha's own craft room, the rotary cutter is easier to use and does a more accurate job than its cutting counterpart. With a pattern pinned in place, just roll the cutter along the outline, no lifting required.
What Is It?
A rotary cutter works well on a variety of materials including fabric, paper, and leather. Rotary cutters come equipped with an easy-to-grip handle, a safety guard for its simple blade-release mechanism, and blades of various sizes. Often, one tool will be sold with multiple rotary blades. Smaller blades are best for working within tight corners and curves such as appliqué designs; larger blades are better for larger projects like curtains and quilts.
How Is It Used?
A rotary cutter is used in making a long straight or curved cut into material. For best results, align the tool with a grid ruler. Not only does this produce a more straight line, it takes more accurate measurements for hems and buttons. Its perforating blade will, as the name implies, perforate paper. As a safety measure, always flip your safety latch on when your cutter is not in use to avoid accidents.
Why We Love It
As anyone who's worked in fabrics will tell you, a rotary cutter is a must-have tool when wrangling long yards of fabric whether it be leather, satin, or silk. This tool cuts through fabric without causing shifting or distortion in the pattern. Plus, it rolls right through slippery and stretchy (read: tricky-to-handle) fabrics like silk and satin. For comparison: a pair of shears is less equipped to handle the job, which can hack at the material, warp the pattern in cutting, and leave behind a jagged edge. Over the years, our editors have put it to good use in a number of projects: dozens of Christmas ornaments wrapped in plaid ribbon, denim cases and tea-towel dresses for Martha's granddaughter Jude, and even Martha's Spellbinding Sorceress Halloween costume. (For that, we cut a panel of tulle 3 feet wide by 8 feet long, cut strips from the remaining fabric, and gathered them into a ruched gold stole for her magical evening look.)
Our Editor's Pick
We like Fiskar's Adjustable Three-Position Rotary Cutter. Unlike most rotary cutters with a single back-and-forth restriction of movement, this tool's ergonomic, soft-grip handle pivots to three locked positions for a full 180-degree rotation-making your projects easier and more comfortable in the making. Use it as a classic stick, flip it to a power position when cutting thick materials, or adjust the blade to the right or left ergonomic position to take the pressure off your wrist and improve your line of sight at awkward angles.