All About Cutting Mats

cutting mats

If you do a lot of sewing, you know that a rotary cutter is a must-have. But if you use a rotary cutter, you’ll also need good quality cutting mat made for that purpose to keep your surfaces intact, your fingers safe, and your cut lines perfect.

How to Buy a Cutting Mat

Cutting mats come in all sizes, so measure the space you work in the most and get one that fits well. They also come in a few different colors and grid/line mark-ups, so take a look at all your options before buying. Be sure to get one that is self-healing with at least a ruler grid.

Personally, I prefer the mats that are 24” by 36” that include bias angle lines. This is a great size for most projects and makes it easy when you want to see how many yards of this or that stashed fabric you have (since 36” is a yard). I started out with an 18” by 24” mat, and I still use it on occasion; especially if I am sewing somewhere other than my house. (Sew-dates with your crafty BFFs are always a great time!)

Other Uses for Cutting Mats

If you’re not interested in making an investment in a cutting mat just yet, know that cutting isn’t the only task you can do with it. I use my mat for lots of different things. It’s also nice to do your pinning and marking on a mat. This protects your table or counter from getting scratched by pins or accidently marked on. For really big projects, I will also take both my mats to the dining room table and lay them side by side for an even larger work space.

They also make these handy portable cutting and pressing stations that have a cutting mat on one side and a surface for ironing on the other. These are wonderful if you are limited on space or sew on the go often. If you have a dedicated sewing area and want to make the investment, there are even companies who will make custom sizes for you. (Oh yeah, my dream sewing studio would have a table-sized mat for sure!)

Want more beginner sewing tips? Check out this article: Essential Sewing Tools and Supplies

Have something to add? Leave a comment or email editor@nationalsewingcircle.com

Discussion
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15 Responses to “All About Cutting Mats”
    • Customer Service

      Hi Diana. Costs can vary a lot depending on the brand as well as the size of the rotary cutters, mats and rulers. Commonly, the smaller the cutting mat size and the shorter the ruler length the less expensive it will be. The same can also apply to rotary blade size, with the smaller blades generally costing less. Also, you can sometimes find deals at your local craft stores for less expensive sewing tools. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  1. Carolyn

    I couldn’t be productive without my cutting mat. I have several of different sizes. I do have a large table mat, which is great.

    Reply
  2. Sheree

    Great article however I would like to know how to use it for measuring. I find the lines very confusing. My mat has the usual inches but also lines starting in bottom right hand corner and going off to the left. I don’t know what to use them for. thank you for your time.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Sheree. All of the larger solid lines going both vertical and horizontal represent one inch. When you lay your fabric on the mat, you can use the vertical lines easily for measuring the fabric length. If you are cutting a square, rectangle or another shape that requires you to measure several sides, you could then use the line at the bottom going to the left to measure the bottom of your shape without having to pick up and rotate your fabric.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Barbara

    I recently joined the Sewing Circle. I have scanned over some of your sites and really pleased with what I see so far. I am older, have sewn for years, but been dormant for a long time due to being a caregiver. I have stashes of everything and trying to organize and make projects out of old scraps of fabric that I used for making my kids clothing. I have about 5 outfits out of scraps up to size two cut out, marked, and ready to sew. There are always uses for the scraps from scraps. I had little wooden dolls, spool dolls, clothespin, and sock dolls ready to finish years ago, but never got to them. I am now enjoying assembling, painting and dressing them. I have a bag of vinyl and your ideas are great. One day I hope to have my sewing room in order, many gifts to give, or fill a need.

    Reply
  4. anna

    A mat I paid $50 for accidentally got buckled up on one side from heat , laid heavy old machines on it for days to see if it would force the mat to return to its orginal flat surface, no go, anyone know of a way please😀😊😀

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Anna. So this might seem counter intuitive but one way to get a mat to lay flat again is to add a little heat first and then set something heavy on it. I’m not sure where you live, but if you are still in a sunny area you can lay the mat out on a porch or deck to warm for an afternoon and then stack something heavy on it to get it to lay flat again.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  5. Adella tom

    Need to find a mat with groves where a rotary cutter sits on this groves to cut for.quilting?

    Reply
    • Robin

      There are rulers for that. Like the June Tailor Shape Cut 12”x12” Slotted Ruler. It has slots every 1/2 inch and you cut where you need. for 2-1/2 inch strips, cut once every 5 slots. You fold your fabric VERY CAREFULLY so it fits the height of the ruler.

      Reply
  6. LaRue Jones

    My husband built a really big folding cutting table for me. It holds two large Olfa Cutting mats. The large leaves fold down on each side for storage, making it less than 18 inches wide. It’s on casters and can be stored inside of a folding-door closet. It’s wonderful, but heavy as lead because it’s made of 3/4 inch plywood and has 2 x 2 inch legs.

    Reply
  7. SHEILA

    I have a large cutting mat on my cutting table and on that fits the arm of my sewing machine cabinet(always open) that I use for cutting threads or ear or left over make quick project

    Reply
  8. Miriam

    I have a large (72”) cutting mat that I’ve had for 30+ years. Only recently I’ve heard of how to care for them so that it will continue to “heal”. Can you give me info on caring for my mat.

    Reply