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Tips & Techniques > Inexpensive, durable rotary mat

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Posted by: patsijean

About patsijean star
Member since: 1/16/03
Reviews: 19 (tips: 8)
Skill level:Advanced
Favored by: 1 people
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Posted on: 10/29/07 2:55 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 28 people   
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Like most quilters, I like to use a rotary cutter for much of my cutting. As a sewist I like to cut most patterns with my rotary cutters and electric shears. The most important accessory for rotary cutting is a good cutting mat, but most are small, or expensive if large. I have been using my cutting mat for at least 15 years, and probably will use it for 15 more. How? I use a smooth-bottomed, rectangular vinyl chair mat available for purchase in most office supply stores. My mat is 3ft by 4ft and is large enough for nearly all my cutting needs. It does not seem to harm my rotary blades any more than normal use would and I can lay out and cut several garment pieces at a time. A child's shirt takes only one layout session as all pieces will fit on the board. When sewing for my grandson I will carefully stack 2 or 3 pieces of fabric and cut out the pattern with either my large rotary cutter or my Black & Decker electric shears depending on the fabric. The smooth surface is great for moving the shears along. Under the mat is an old cardboard cutting mat. I use the inch marks for lining up fabrics but not for accurate measurement. I often place instructions under the mat so that I can find them without searching for the last place I put them down, and most print can be read through mat. The cost of a mat like this is about $30-$50 depending on size and thickness, however, you do not need a thick mat for this purpose. Many mats will have a chair lip at one end. This can be removed with a good circular saw, and the edges sanded. Now you have two mats, one large and one small. Click the link above for a captioned photo album.

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carolrv said... (7/8/10 8:56 AM) Reply
Thanks for the great idea. We recently started living in an rv and I think I could slide that mat under our mattress!
patsijean said... (12/23/08 9:56 AM) Reply
Lucy, I have been using my mat for nearly 11 years and I have no problems with it. The surface of the mat feels fine to me. I don't know if that means it is "self-healing" or not. I occasionally use rubbing alcohol and a Scotch Brite cleaning pad to clean the mat, then wipe the little fibers off the mat with the sponge side of the pad. I would suggest that when cutting very fine fabrics like silkies you use a new blade as using an older blade that requires you to push harder could push fine fibers into the mat.
Lucy in Virginia said... (12/22/08 10:41 AM) Reply
This is a great idea, since the other mats are so expensive! I do have a question. I have one I bought from WalMart which is getting rough and snags delicate fabrics. Obviously it is scarred and not a self-healing mat. Do the chair mats self heal as you cut into them?
SewPurple said... (3/24/08 6:25 PM) Reply
Wow! Great Idea!!
Raye of Sonshine said... (3/6/08 3:34 PM) Reply
What a Great Idea!!! The other cutting mats are expensive and sometimes you can find these cheap at second hand stores!!!
JEC said... (12/1/07 2:29 AM) Reply
Hi Terrific Idea and I never would have thought of it. Thanks. Judy
Grandma DRake said... (11/7/07 4:09 PM) Reply
Wow EEE! this is so clever, I will be running to the office supply store to get one (I was on my way to JoAnn's). How clever!
Miss Fairchild said... (11/7/07 8:48 AM) Reply
You are brilliant! After all those years I spent working in an office, I never thought of using this for a mat! And putting it on top of your other paper mat is clever!
Babe B said... (10/31/07 9:13 AM) Reply
Brilliant! Thanks very much for sharing.
Susan M said... (10/30/07 2:02 PM) Reply
I am so impressed with your ability to see this as a rotary mat. I will pass this on to every sewer I know. Thanks for posting.
Stitchology said... (10/30/07 1:59 PM) Reply
Wonderful! Now I can lay out large amounts of fabric on the floor.
patsijean said... (10/30/07 12:30 PM) Reply

patsijean said... (10/30/07 12:15 PM) Reply
Nancywin, This is obviously not a "squishy" mat, however, when I use a dull rotary cutter, having to push a bit harder to cut cleanly, a very fine fabric has embeded on occasion, but not every time. I found that by changing to a new, sharp blade the problem is all but eliminated. There may be a few tiny fibers embeded, but not enough to be a problem or pull out fibers. I think that cleaning/scrubbing with the abrasive side of the cleaning sponge helps a bit too and I did just scrub the mat. Right now I am making a reversible cape for my husband's Halloween. One fabric is a slipery poly-satin and so far no problems. Let me try something even thinner.............Nope, no problem....cut a thin silky with an older blade and with a new one. Silk Dupioni cut just fine.
Nancywin said... (10/30/07 0:44 AM) Reply
Great idea1 I'm interested to know about how "squishy" it is. I have a pinnable mat that I bought at JoAnns, but whenever I cut something fine, like silk or lining, the cutter embeds it into the mat. Does this happen with yours?
motomoda said... (10/30/07 0:24 AM) Reply
What a clever idea! I wish I hadn't thrown out my wonky chair mat :(
kkkkaty said... (10/29/07 7:14 PM) Reply
that's very inventive, good idea!
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