One of the most utilized tools in the quilters workspace aside from the rotary cutter is the cutting mat.
A quality cutting mat will not only provide a sturdy cutting surface but also self-heal in the process. The composition of the mat should not dull your rotary blade.
Although mats come in a variety of sizes, a new quilter will want to purchase an 18″x 24″ mat to get them started. This size is easily portable for classes and retreats.
Quilt fabric is folded between 21″-22″ wide. Most of the cutting occurs along this fold, and therefore the mat needs to accommodate the width.
Anything smaller and cutting involves sliding the fabric along the mat to complete the cut.
Cutting mats should be “rotary cutter” friendly. A rotary blade is different than an X-Acto knife. Avoid mats that have a rough or gritty surface. This type of surface will dull the rotary blade.
When cutting into the mat try to avoid deep cuts. The mat will not heal from a deep cut.
The best cut is a shallow cut. Over time repeated shallow cuts would become deep cuts. Once that occurs, the mat will no longer self-heal. Deep cuts will create a rough surface and may cause snags in the fabric.
The length of time a mat will last depends on its use. Typically mats will last three years. That may vary depending on cuts, the care of the mat, and the frequency of use.
Here Are The 6 Best Self-Healing Cutting Mats for Quilters
This Calibre cutting mat will not warp or crack. The thickness of the mat consists of 15 layers of self-healing compound. The surface heals faster and stays smoother longer.
Due to their compliance with European safety, the manufacturer has eliminated harmful chemicals, and therefore the mat does not contain chemical residue smells.
The numbers extend to the edge to aid in making a straight line. The mat also has cm measurements. As with most cutting mats, it includes 30°, 45°, and 60° angle lines.
This 3mm thick mat has a gray background with white lines. It is double-sided and will not warp or curl.
The cutting lines extend to the edge making it easy to see if your ruler is straight before cutting. It has line angles of 15°,30°,45°,60° and 75° making it extremely versatile.
The self-healing surface will stand up to shallow cuts and extend the life of your rotary blade.
The Olfa self-healing cutting mat is double-sided which means that when one side wears out the second side is available. It comes with the standard angled cuts lines and a handy 10″ square box.
This 10″ square box is best utilized for cutting down 10″ pre-cut quilting squares.
These squares are popular among today's quilters for making quick quilting blocks. The yellow lines are easy to see, and the lightweight design will make it easy to transport to class.
Store this mat lying flat to prevent bending. It has angle lines of 30°,45°, and 60°.
This cutting mat comes with a color choice on each side designed for different lighting conditions. One side is green with yellow lines, and the other is blue with white lines.
Whether cutting at home or in the classroom, the mat will accommodate lighting conditions. The surface of the mat promotes self-healing adding to the life of the rotary blade.
It has angle lines of 30°,45°, and 60°. Store this mat lying flat to prevent bending.
This five-layer cutting mat is not only durable but has lines printed every half inch. Often directions call for half-inch cuts. For example, “cut 5 2 1/2″ strips.”
This mat will help you make the correct cut when you line up the ruler. Made of PVC material, this mat self-heals and has a cm scale. Choose blue or black mats for quilting. It has angle lines of 45° and 60°.
The DAFA self-healing mat comes in both metric and standard measurements. The one side is metric, and the other in inches.
Due to the three-ply layers, the mat will not warp or curl. It includes 45° and 60° angle lines and is odor free.
The background is green, and the lines are blue which make them easy to see. The re-sealing surface will accommodate shallow cuts.
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A good quality self-healing cutting mat should accompany the best rotary cutter you can afford.
As a new quilter, a 24”x 36” mat will allow you to make larger cuts from a bolt of fabric and be portable enough to take to class.
A self-healing mat will not only last for repeated use but will help prevent the rotary blade from becoming dull.
Try to make shallow cuts and replace the mat once the shallow cuts become too deep. A mat stored flat will keep well and prolong the life of the mat for several years.