If you do a lot of sewing, you may find that a cutting mat is a great tool to have in your supply stash. Cutting mats allow you to use rotary cutters or craft knives to cut out your pattern pieces, and they protect your work surface from knicks and scratches.
Where to Buy Cutting Mats
You can find sewing cutting mats in your local fabric or craft store or at a quilting supply shop. However, if you're looking for a special size or want to have the best selection, shopping online is a good idea. The following retailers sell cutting mats for seamstresses:
- Cutting-mats.net - This site specializes in all shapes, types, and sizes of cutting mats. You'll find self-healing designs and mats that are as large as your table surface. This store will even create a custom-sized mat for you.
- Fiskars - This popular brand makes more than just great scissors. You'll also find a good selection of cutting mats in different styles. The prices are affordable, but the largest mat offered is 36 inches wide.
- Create for Less - This online craft store is a great place to shop for good deals on most sewing supplies. There are dozens of cutting mats in many different sizes. Some of the mats at this store even fold for storage in tight spaces.
- Mats and Stuff - This small store sells only a couple of sizes of mats, but both are very affordable. Unlike many mats, you can roll these for storage, making them a good choice if you don't have a dedicated cutting table.
Selecting a Cutting Mat
With all the options on the market, choosing the right cutting mat can seem overwhelming. However, you'll end up with a mat you love if your keep the following tips in mind as you shop:
- Think about the best material for your mat. Mats come in self-healing and hard plastic varieties, and each has its advantages. Self-healing mats are made of a soft plastic that repairs itself when cut. However, this material can be delicate and may not last as long as a hard surface mat.
- Consider which tools you'll be using. Thin cutting mats, those that are less than two millimeters in thickness, may not be suitable for craft knives. If you'll be using your mat with a craft knife, buy one that is at least three millimeters thick.
- Decide on the best size for your mat. If you'll be cutting out a lot of clothing patterns, you may prefer a large cutting mat. However, storage is also an issue. Typically, it's a good idea to buy the largest mat you can easily store when it isn't in use.
- Choose a mat with markings that are helpful for you. Mats come with a variety of gradations or grid marks printed on them. Some include a simple square grid, while others have varying sizes of circles and arcs. If you'll be making your own patterns, it helps to have a sewing mat with circles in many different sizes. Also choose a mat with a grid that is small enough for your needs. Some have grids with squares that are 1/8 inch on each side.
Caring for Your Cutting Mat
As with any sewing supply, how you care for your mat will make a big difference in its life span. These tips should help:
- Clean your mat with mild soap and water if it gets dirty or sticky.
- Store the mat flat, or hang it up. Unless it's designed to be rolled, rolling it may damage the plastic.
- Always use sharp knives when cutting. Self-healing mats are particularly vulnerable to dull blades.
- Avoid getting your mat hot. Keep it out of the direct sunlight and away from your sewing iron.
An Essential Tool
Many sewing enthusiasts find that cutting mats are essential tools. If you do your research before you buy, you're sure to find a mat that's perfect for your needs.