Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Rotating Cutting Mat Hack

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click a link and make a purchase. 

Hello! I have a cutting mat hack to share with you today. I actually shared this tip on social media last week with a quick video, but decided to post some more details about it here.

Have you heard of a rotating cutting mat? It works just like it sounds. The mat sits on a base and can be spun around 360 degrees. It allows you to essentially move the mat instead of moving the fabric around as you cut on various sides of the fabric. You're probably already imagining scenarios when this might come in handy!

Full disclosure. I do have a rotating cutting mat, although I'm not sure where it is. I bought it years ago and I have used it in the past. It was a Fiskars 14"x14" mat. It was fine, but it didn't rotate as smoothly as I would have liked (although depending on your perspective, that could be a good thing as I'll explain later). I had considered buying the Matilda rotating mat because I've seen that one featured in various videos over the years and it seems like it would rotate more easily than the mat I had.


Pros and Cons

There are definitely benefits of a rotating cutting mat. It allows you to trim or cut on multiple sides of a ruler without picking up and moving either your ruler or your fabric, such as when trimming oversized half square triangles or flying geese. You don't have to get everything lined up again before making your next cuts which can make your cutting more accurate. 

These mats also come in a variety of sizes and shapes so you can decide which type fits your preference and budget.

There are some downsides though. These may not be enough to overshadow the positives for you, but they are something to consider. 

One, they can be expensive. The Matilda's 15" rotating mat is almost $70! The smaller mats are cheaper, but what if you buy a smaller mat and then you have a larger piece of fabric to cut and you can't even use it? You could buy a larger mat, but then what if you find that you don't end up using it that often?

Two, it's one more thing that is taking up space and needs to be stored somewhere when not being used. That might not be a big deal, but it can be a consideration if you are tight on storage space.

Third, it could potentially wobble or move on you while cutting which can result in an inaccurate cut. This is where a mat such as the Fiskars could be helpful. The mat I have did stay in place pretty well, but I kept finding myself wishing that it would be a little easier to turn when I wanted it to (it wasn't hard, but it didn't feel smooth to me either). However, while the Matilda's mat that seems to move more smoothly, at least in the videos I've seen, I also wonder if that would make it more likely to turn a little when you didn't want it to.


Rotating Mat Hack

Given the pros and cons, are you unsure if you should make the investment in a rotating mat or not? What if you could have the benefits of a rotating cutting mat but with the regular cutting mat that you already have? And I'm not going to tell you to turn your 24"x36" cutting mat around, don't worry!

If your cutting table is set up in a way that it has a corner with space to stand on both sides of it, you can place your regular mat on that corner and trim those half square triangles (or whatever you are cutting) on all four sides without ever picking up your ruler or your fabric (of course, this assumes that your ruler is the size you are trimming your fabric to, but a rotating mat won't help with that either!) Although, even if you have to adjust your ruler, it can sometimes still be helpful to not need to move the fabric too.

This might be stretching things a bit, but I like to think that this method also gives me some free exercise! Instead of standing in one spot for a long period of time, I'm constantly shifting back and forth from one side of my cutting table to the other. That little bit of movement has to be better than nothing, right?

How The Hack Works

Intrigued but not quite picturing it? Check out the video below to see this hack in action! You can play around with how to arrange your fabric on your mat to get it in the most comfortable position for you. For me, if I'm trimming half square triangles, I feel the most comfortable if I turn the unit so that a corner is facing me (like a diamond) rather than placing it in front of me like a square. A different placement might work better for you so try out different arrangements and see what works for you!


Benefits of This Hack

There are several reasons that I prefer this method of cutting over a rotating cutting mat:

It's free - sort of. You presumably already have a regular cutting mat if you're a quilter. You don't need to buy anything else.

No risk of the mat wobbling or shifting. A regular cutting mat should generally stay put while you're using it. So assuming you don't have any issues with regular cutting, you shouldn't have any issues with this method either.

You can use this hack no matter the size of the piece of fabric you're cutting. Well, assuming it fits on your regular mat, but I think you know what I mean!


Final Thoughts

So there you have it! I hope you've found this trick useful, whether you do not have a rotating mat and didn't feel you could justify the cost of another quilting tool or you have one but just didn't seem to enjoy using it and couldn't quite figure out why. I hope you'll give it a try and I hope you'll let me know what you think!

Until next time,


No comments:

Post a Comment