Best Cutting Mats for Quilting and Sewing

Hi! Our content is free. We participate in the Amazon Associates program. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.

The best cutting mats for sewing and quilting can make the difference between accurate cutting or wonky triangles. There are so many cutting mats available, from self-healing to rotating, it’s hard to know which one is a perfect match for your craft.

With so many options to choose from, how do you know what the best cutting mats for sewing and quilting are?

What Is a Cutting Mat?

Originally designed for quilters, cutting mats have long since revolutionized all sewing projects. The accuracy of a rotary cutter, ruler and a trusty cutting mat make chopping shapes, of all kinds, quick and easy. It’s no surprise sewists love them.

Cutting mats allow you to place your fabric flat on a table and make precise measurements with a ruler and the mat’s markings. Better still, unlike using a pair of scissors where you have to lift the fabric, a rotary cutter lets you leave your fabric on the mat and even cut through multiple layers.

Made from materials such as rubber or vinyl, cutting mats come in a range of sizes. Some, particularly rotating cutting mats, are even circular in shape. They protect the table you’re working on and are durable enough to withstand multiple uses. Plus, they often come in various colors to suit every sewing room aesthetic.

Best Rotating Cutting Mats

Even with the convenience cutting mats offer, you still have to manually move your fabric, or scoot around the table, so you can cut it easily. Rotating cutting mats offer the same precision as normal mats but they’re designed with a hard, rotating, non-slip base. This saves you the hassle of trying to find the best angle to cut.

Pros:

  • Rotates to allow freedom of movement without lifting the fabric

Cons:

  • Often circular which may not give you enough space

Fiskars 14″x14″ Self-Healing, Rotating Cutting Mat

Fiskars 14"x14" cutting mat, one of the best cutting mats for quilters and sewers

Square-shaped and offering plenty of space for your cutting needs, Fiskars 14″x14″ cutting mat offers 360o rotation and self-healing properties. The bias markings offer a range of angles (30, 45 and 60 degrees) to help measure all types of shapes you need to cut out. Plus, if 14″ is too big, there’s also an 8″x8″ option available.

Pros:

  • Square shape offers plenty of space
  • Rotates for ease-of-use
  • Self-healing
  • 30, 45 and 60 degree bias markings

Cons:

  • Some sewists have issues with the rotating top staying attached to the base
  • Center may bow due to rotating base
  • Due to square shaped base, the corners of the cutting mat may sag when rotated

Olfa 12″ Rotating Cutting Mat

Olfa 12" rotating cutting mat, green color

If you’re looking for a cutting mat to take to classes, the Olfa 12″ rotating cutting mat is a great portable choice. Small and light, it’s a perfect option for both fabric and paper crafts when you don’t have a lot of space free to work. The 360o rotation means you never have to awkwardly circle the table, or move your fabric, to make each cut.

Pros:

  • 360o rotation
  • Good for fabric and paper crafts
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Top and bottom pieces may come apart
  • May be too small for larger projects

Omnigrid 14″ Rotating Mat, Cutters & Accessories

Omnigrid 14" rotating cutting mat

Designed for ease-of-use, the Omnigrid 14″ rotating cutting mat has a notched diameter to allow you to turn the mat with ease. Unlike the previous two, square, cutting mats, the Omnigrid’s circular design ensures every inch of the cutting area has support from the base.

Pros:

  • 360o rotation
  • 30, 45 and 60 degree bias markings
  • Notches for easy-rotation

Cons:

  • Not self-healing

Best Self-Healing Cutting Mats

Self-healing cutting mats are the picture of ingenuity. Made with hundreds of tiny, independent pieces all pressed together, these cutting mats are designed to allow the rotary cutter’s blade to pass between each part without damaging the mat.

As the pieces revert back to their previous positions, it appears as though the cutting mat heals itself after every cut. Leaving a smooth, unblemished surface, every time.

Pros:

  • No nasty grooves left from multiple cuts

Cons:

  • Dull blades will damage the cutting mat

Alvin 36″x 48″ Self-Healing Cutting Mat

Alvin self-healing cutting mat

If you usually work on larger projects, the Alvin 36″ x 48″ self-healing cutting mat has your back. 3mm thick with grid measurements on both sides, you can use both rotary blades or straight utility cutters for all sorts of projects, not just sewing. Available in several sizes, you can find one perfect for your project and sewing room.

Pros:

  • Double-sided
  • Perfect for both rotary blades or straight utility cutters
  • 0.5″ grid lines
  • 45 and 60 degree angles
  • Available in several sizes

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Too big to take to classes
  • No rotating base

Olfa 24″ x 36″ Double-Sided, Self-Healing, Rotary Mat

Olfa rotary self healing cutting mat

Double sided for precise cutting of fabric pieces or general crafts, the Olfa 24″ x 36″ rotary mat is the perfect size for larger projects. Its self-healing properties make it perfect for multiple projects without damaging the surface. At 1.5mm thick it’s thinner than the previous cutting mat but no less durable.

Pros:

  • Self-healing
  • Double-sided

Cons:

  • Measurements are only on one side
  • Too big to take to classes

Best Large Cutting Mats

Small cutting mats are cheap and versatile but sometimes, you just need something bigger. Large mats allow you to turn your workspace into the perfect place to cut fabric. With bags of room, you’ll never have to worry about cutting over the edge and damaging your table or messing up an otherwise perfect line.

Pros:

  • More space to work

Cons:

  • Too big to take to classes

Dahle Vantage 24″ x 36″ 5-Layer Self-Healing Mat

Dahle Vantage cutting mat- one of the best large cutting mats

Built to last, the Dahle Vantage cutting mat is a force to be reckoned with. Its five layer design adds extra durability to its self-healing nature and it’s big enough for even the mightiest projects. Better still, it’s available in three colors to better fit your sewing room.

Pros:

  • Self-healing
  • 5 layer design
  • 1/2″ measurement grid
  • Available in three colors

Cons:

  • Measurements are only on one side
  • Size may be difficult to manage

US Art Supply 18″ x 24″ Self-Healing Cutting Mat

US Art supply cutting mat

If having measurements on only one side is a problem, the US Art Supply self-healing cutting mat is the perfect choice. With a 1/2″ grid on both sides and five layers for extra durability, you can cut through all sorts of fabric without worrying about your desk. Available in pink and blue, you can spice up your sewing room with the bright colors.

Pros:

  • Self-healing
  • Double-sided
  • 5-layer construction
  • Unique colors
  • 45 and 60 degree guides
  • 1/2″ grid

Cons:

  • Fabric may slide on the surface
  • Size may be difficult to manage

Things to Consider

Now we’ve looked at a few of the best cutting boards for sewing and quilting, here’s a list of frequently asked questions when it comes to these cutting utensils.

What Tools Do You Need With a Cutting Mat?

A cutting mat doesn’t need an arsenal of tools but there are a few essentials you need to be able to use it correctly.

First up, is a ruler. These are usually made of clear plastic and have gridlines to help you measure out your fabric pieces. Some even come with a curve.

Second, is a rotary cutter. Think a pizza cutter but designed for fabric instead.

What Are Cutting Mats Made Of?

Cutting mats are made out of durable materials such as rubber or vinyl. This gives them the ability to self-heal and be flexible and light, while offering a reliable surface to cut fabric on.

Why Do You Need a Cutting Mat?

If you’ve ever gotten tired of fabric slipping as you snip away with scissors, a cutting mat will ease your frayed nerves. With gridlines to make accurate measurements and a trusty ruler to make straight cuts, you don’t have to lift the fabric at all.

Can You Fix a Warped Cutting Mat?

Cutting mats are thin and flexible, making it easy for them to warp when stored incorrectly or subjected to heat. Luckily, there are a number of ways to fix a warped cutting mat.

Option One: Weight

Lie your cutting mat on a flat surface and set something heavy on top of it for a few hours. This should help flatten it back into shape. You can also try placing it beneath a large piece of plexiglass before placing heavy objects on top to better distribute the weight.

Option Two: Heat

If weight doesn’t help, you can try gently heating your cutting mat. This helps soften it enough it’ll be easier to coax back into its original shape. Don’t go haywire here! Your cutting mat will melt or warp further if heated too much. A gentle warmth is the way to go.

You can even get away with leaving it outside in warmer months. Just keep an eye on it and make sure the sun doesn’t make it too hot.

Option Three: Iron

If it’s too cold outside to leave your cutting mat to the sun’s rays, you can try an iron on a low heat setting. Sandwich your cutting mat between two damp towels and place it on a flat surface. The towels are important here, applying an iron straight to your cutting mat will cause it to melt or damage the markings.

Focus on the warped area and only until the mat is warm to the touch. Afterwards, use the heavy object method to convince the mat to settle back into shape.

How Do You Use a Cutting Mat?

With all the gridlines and measurements, cutting mats can be a little intimidating for a beginner. They’re not as scary as they first appear though.

To use a cutting mat, make sure to place it on a completely flat, solid surface. This will help you straighten out your fabric and give you something to cut against to ensure accuracy.

While spreading out on the floor might seem like a good idea, your carpet will be too soft for the cutting mat to be effective, leading to buckling and wonky lines.

Second, make sure the height of the table is suitable. Depending on your project, you’ll probably spend a lot of time cutting fabric pieces out. A table that’s too low will make you bend over, causing discomfort and backache. Make sure your chosen cutting area is the right height for you.

Finally, but no less important, your rotary cutter needs a sharp blade. Dull blades won’t cut properly, causing jagged lines and often leaving a mess of still joined fabric pieces. Not only that, but they’ll damage self-healing cutting mats. Using a cutting mat scarred from so much use will cause no end of problems.

How Do You Cut Multiple Layers of Fabric?

Unlike with a pair of scissors, the fabric on a cutting board doesn’t move as you cut. This allows you to slice through several layers of fabric in one go, making bigger projects with identical pieces a breeze.

You do have to make sure the fabric your layering is the same type though. Different fabrics react differently to going under a rotary cutter. For example, silk will cut differently to cotton. Mixing them both and cutting at the same time may seem great in theory but is really a recipe for disaster.

How Do You Store a Cutting Mat?

The purpose of a cutting mat is to help you accurately cut pieces of fabric. To this end, it’s important you store the mat as flat as possible. Warped or bent mats will be a hassle to work with and, despite their durability under a rotary cutter, they’re not made to withstand twisting and improper storage.

Keeping the cutting mat flat will help ensure longevity. For larger cutting mats, hanging them on a wall is a good way to store them. Since they’re too flexible to stand up properly, leaning them against a wall without proper support will cause them to buckle.

How Do You Clean a Cutting Mat?

Everyone likes drinking their favorite brew as they work, or snacking on biscuits to keep your strength up. Unfortunately, unless you’re dedicated to keeping food and drink outside of your sewing space, spillages can happen.

To clean a cutting mat, use lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Never use chemicals to clean any spillages, even for the tougher stains. They may damage or warp the cutting mat irreparably.

Conclusion

Large or small, cutting mats make a sewists life easy. Instead of struggling to make accurate cuts with a pair of scissors, a rotary cutter and a cutting mat can help you make precise shapes for all sorts of projects. Better still, cutting mats support all sorts of crafts, from quilting to garment making and even a few other hobbies outside of sewing.

Now you know the best cutting mats for sewing and quilting, hopefully you’ll find it easier to pick the one suited to your hobby. If you have a favorite cutting mat, let us know in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *