Stay Sharp: Rotary Cutting and Blades


The rotary cutter was developed in the late 1970’s and adopted by quilters in the early 1980’s. It truly revolutionized quilting by increasing the both speed and accuracy of cutting.

I have a healthy respect (bordering on fear) of my rotary cutter and have had a few near misses. Go to any quilt guild and at some point — usually while you’re eating — people will start to show their scars and tell their stories. Ugh.

Anyway, I think this healthy respect keeps me from changing my blades as often as I should. I usually wait until my fabric is fraying and then another week or so for good measure. Early this week, however, I changed blades and marveled at the difference. You cut through the fabric with absolute ease and there is far less pressure required on our hands because the blade is doing the work, not downward force. This alone should be a reason to use a fresh blade regularly.

Cost is an issue. I have always used Olfa blades ($34.95 at Joann’s for a package of 5) but recently tried Gingher’s ($26.95 for a package of 5). This is the time to use those 40% or 50% off coupons, or stock up during a sale. Gingher makes great scissors and their rotary cutting blades are wonderful. I’m not sure if it’s just because my previous blade was so dull, but I feel like my Gingher blade is better than the Olfa.

I store old blades in the same plastic container as my new blades, however I mark them with Sharpie “x’s” to indicate they are used.

Here’s some more info on rotary cutters for anyone who is interested.


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