Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: January 22, 2021
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Forget the scissors, how about opting for a rotary cutter for your sewing projects? But is it really a better option? Judging from how much easier it is to use, we certainly think so – no need to cut through multiple layers of fabric with scissors. The best rotary cutter will make a mundane and tiring task a lot easier. This means no more hand fatigue or discomfort—something persons suffering with arthritis will definitely appreciate.
What criteria did we use to come up with our list of recommendations below? Each cutter has different specs to offer which determine a number of factors including performance and durability. To pick the best ones for the purposes of our review, we looked at the blade diameter and shape as well the overall dimensions. All of this contributes to its performance. By comparing these features –and more—you can pick one that suits your needs.
Many hours went into the research so we could come up with a comprehensive buyer’s guide. We had to go through countless customer reviews—both good & bad—to get an unbiased opinion of the products. We also asked a few professional dressmakers to add their feedback to our data. To aid in your decision-making process, we included a comparison table highlighting the different specs each product has to offer. We also took the liberty of reviewing each product in detail outlining all the specs and where they best excel. Finally, we have included a buying guide with more info on all the features you need to consider.
Reliable is known for using innovative technology to manufacture high-quality products and this product is no exception. The fact that it ticks all the right boxes where performance and versatility are concerned is probably why it’s our top pick
You’ll be impressed by its high power electric motor which gives a clean cut. You can cut through a one ply up to a one-inch thick fabric with utmost ease.
The octagonal blade makes it a very versatile unit by allowing it to cut through a variety of fabrics from cotton to canvas —plastics included. Because of this octagonal shape, it won’t pull the fabric giving you better control.
The best part is you won’t experience any hand fatigue after since it’s very lightweight. Cutting is further made easier thanks to the automatic sharpener which guarantees a sharp edge on each cut. The light die-cast design and extra thin base plate make it even easier to operate.
However, we’ll be quick to point out that it’s not ideal for your heavy duty sewing projects. It works best on light to medium weight fabrics.
Also, you might need to tighten it every now and again because vibration tends to loosen some of the parts.
Still, on the downside, it’s not the quietest –or cheapest – machine around, but we reckon it’s still worth the money.
Here we have yet another versatile cutter designed to cut through even the most delicate fabrics up to one inch layered denim. This is thanks to the powerful motor with a one-inch cutting capacity. Other materials you can use it on include denim, leather as well as plastics.
Like the Reliable cutter reviewed above, it also has an octagonal blade designed to give you better operational control.
Another of its impressive features is the thin aluminum base plate which though lightweight is quite durable. This same base plate has brass wheels which make the machine very agile and easy to maneuver. Cutting straight lines is also a breeze with this unit making it a good rotary cutter for quilting.
The built-in sharpening stone enhances its cutting performance making cutting effortless at all times. This also significantly improves the lifespan of the product.
Operations are straightforward and intuitive: Simply activate the cutter, depress the button a few times and it’s ready to cut.
For such a powerful unit it’s very lightweight which allows for easy handling.
A few users have however noted that material tends to get stuck under the blade especially if you work on too much fabric.
Also, it unfortunately has a few design flaws which can affect operation. First off, the blade isn’t as tight as you’d want it to be and easily moves up & down, thereby getting in the way of your cutting. Also, the plug of the oil can keep coming out which creates a mess.
Here’s a yet another Hercules cutter which is slightly cheaper than the model reviewed above but nonetheless performs exceptionally well.
Though small & lightweight it’s surprisingly powerful judging by the way it allows you to cut fabric with ease. And another advantage of using a smaller cutter is it’s much easier to navigate through the fabric. This makes it a highly accurate cutting machine. As a result, it’s the ideal unit to use on narrow curves and sharp corners.
Ever used a hand shear? It functions exactly the same—only much faster. And the shears are designed to automatically stop when not held in hand.
It’ll work best for your light-duty projects: It cuts the single and low-lays of material such as cloth & lace.
The base plate is removable—a feature not present in some cutters. This means you can use it either on or off the table.
Your cutting experience will be a quiet one if you pick this unit. This is thanks to the shielded ball bearings which require no lubrication or servicing whatsoever.
Your safety is important to the manufacturer which is why it included an adjustable front knife guard. Simply slide the guard up or down depending on the thickness of the material you’re working on.
You’re also likely to be impressed with the double insulated motor designed to prevent overheating when used for prolonged periods.
Some users were however concerned about its durability citing that it stops working after a couple of months.
Looking for a quality portable rotary cutter? You can consider this small machine: It’s even smaller than the Hercules AS 100-K. Weighing just over 2lb you can tell it’s very light.
What sets it apart from the rest? Probably its built-in push button blade sharpener and finger guard. This makes it the ideal unit for persons suffering from arthritis.
This is one of the best electric rotary cutters for fabric because it’s designed to eliminate hand fatigue commonly associated with using the heavy duty cutters. End result—it takes less time to complete a job. You can cut through multiple layers of fabric quickly with this rotary cutter thereby speeding up your production process.
For such a small unit, the motor is quite powerful allowing you to slice up fabric up to 3/8” thick.
The motor coupled with the high-speed blade rotation means you can cut even the flimsiest and finest fabric smoothly.
There will be no snagging, jamming or pulling of fabric if you pick this nifty device making it a highly efficient tool.
For such a small machine you’d expect handling problems. On the contrary, it’s designed to allow for a comfortable grip during your cutting process.
However, though the manufacturer included a manual some of the instructions aren’t as clear. You may need to watch a few videos to learn how to perform certain cuts for instance precision cuts.
This product proves that you don’t need to purchase an expensive unit to get high performance. Though considerably cheaper than the rest, it offers the highest cutting capacity: It can cut up to 15 layers of fabric thanks to its 4” blade making it good rotary cutter for thick fabric. And it’s not very noisy at all.
Materials you can use it on include cotton, leather and knit fabric to mention a few. You can also use it on the finer fabric such as silk and sponge.
It’s the one to pick if you’re looking for a versatile machine that’s also lightweight. Because it’s not on the heavy side, it zips through fabric fast.
Like most of the models reviewed above, it also features an integrated sharpening mechanism so every cut will be an effortless one.
It’s the one to pick for your light to heavyweight fabrics, and you’ll be impressed by its free cutting & how it runs through the fabric.
It comes with a 14ft long cord so you can move around with it freely for instance if you want to cut through a carpet located far from the power source.
However, we must point out that it takes a bit of time getting used to especially for those precision cuts. But once you figure it out, such cuts will be a breeze.
Another thing is it doesn’t come with a finger guard, so you have to purchase that separately. It’s important to stay safe when working with these sharp bladed machines.
This our budget pick for the seamstress who wants a good cutter but is low on finances. But get this: By picking this unit, you not only get a cutter but the full kit inclusive of the cutting mat and measuring grid. That’s a bargain, right?
What else makes it unique? Both left and right-hand users will find the symmetrical design useful—and comfortable in either hand.
For your safety concerns, it comes with a blade guard to allow for safe storage and transportation.
You can protect the area you’re working on by simply placing the easy to clean double-sided cutting mat underneath. It also helps that the mat is self-healing so it’ll last you a long time. Just make sure you store it away from sunlight or heat. It also consists of bias lines which aid in simple shape and angle cutting.
Planning on precision cutting? The acrylic ruler is designed to make precise measuring easy. In addition, it features a highlighted seam allowance, but unfortunately, the grid lines aren’t the easiest to read. You will, however, appreciate that it’s non-slip for easier grip and handling.
The blade is 45mm thick making it ideal for cutting multiple layers of fabric. However, with regards to cutting performance, it’s not the smoothest cutter around. That might be the biggest trade-off that comes with purchasing the cheapest cutter on the list.
What we liked:
Mat easy to cuts easily through multiple layers of fabric
Easy to grip ruler
What could be better:
Ruler not so easy to read
Cutting performance not smooth
Things to Consider
Have a look at our buyer’s guide as we give you pointers on how to identify the best rotary cutter to suit your purposes.
Reasons to get a top-quality rotary cutter for fabric
Let’s be clear: If you expect high performance then picking any rotary cutter just won’t cut it. A top quality cutter is the one you need because it comes with the following advantages:
The blade will be sharper than the one present in a lower quality rotary cutter. As a result, it’ll cut through layers of fabric quickly and smoothly. This means accurate straight line cutting with no wobbling of which the Reliable rotary cutter is a good example.
Since their design and construction are superior, it means you’ll have a high-quality blade on your hands. This means a high-performance blade with minimal slippage.
Quality cutters are usually designed to take care of your safety concerns and offer safe cutting features to prevent finger cutting accidents.
Features to consider when choosing a fabric rotary cutter
So how will you know what a top quality rotary looks like? Well, there are certain features you must look at that determine important factors such as performance and durability. We list some of the most prominent below.
Blade size and shape
The first aspect you must look at is the size and shape of the blade because it determines cutting performance. The larger the size, the more fabric it can cut through. These blades have varying thickness levels, and most models come in sizes 18, 28,45 and 60. The one you pick will depend on what you’re cutting. Here are a few pointers:
A 28mm blade is quite thin and will come in handy for those intricate patterns as it makes cutting them much easier.
Blades such as the Friskers rotary cutter which have a 45mm blade are very popular because they are the most versatile: They can cut through both thin and multiple layers of fabric.
For the heavy-duty thicker materials, you can opt for a 60mm blade.
You might have noticed most of our reviewed cutters have octagonal blades. These are arguably the ideal type if you don’t want any pulling of fabric during use. This is thanks to the unique shape. Other types are round or hexagonal, and the one you pick will depend on the pattern you want to cut.
Overall dimensions and weight
Just how quickly do you want to get the job done? You’ll have to consider both the overall dimensions and weight of the product. The smaller and more portable cutters, for example, the Hercules AS100-K will allow you to cut through fabric quickly. Their only limitation might be the thickness of fabric they can cut through. Most small cutters aren’t designed to cut through thick layers. You can consider the bigger models for your heavy-duty projects and thicker fabrics.
What materials will you be working with?
As mentioned earlier, before you pick a rotary cutter you must take into account the material you’ll be working on. Some such as the Hercules A100-K will cut only through lighter and thinner fabric. Others—try the Hercules HRC-100—can handle heavy-duty fabrics and multiple layers.
You can also consider the power as it determines the strength and speed of the rotary cutter. To speed up the production process especially if you’re in the commercial sector, opt for the high speed cutters.
Though rotary cutters are welcome innovations designed to make your work easier, they’re potentially dangerous devices. It’s in your best interests to opt for one designed with your safety in mind.
A rotary cutter with a knife guard is always a good idea so that it can be stored safely.
With regards to operation, if you can pick one with a finger guard such as the Hercules ASK100-K, it’ll protect you from any accidental nicks.
This is one feature worth looking for: A built-in blade sharpener. Because of this feature, your blade is automatically sharpened to guarantee you a clean and sharp cutting performance with every use. Apart from that it also minimizes blade dulling so your cutter will ultimately last longer.
For any seamstress a rotary cutter is an investment: One you don’t intend on making a repeat purchase soon. If you get comfortable using yours, you won’t want to switch models, right? To avoid this, make sure you pick one with a reasonable warranty period. If it can cover both mechanism and repairing of faulty parts, you have a winner.
Extra caution needs to be exercised when dealing with a rotary cutter. Hopefully, you’ll find the following handy:
Think you can use any blade with any rotary cutter? Think again. For an effective cutting experience, the blade must correctly fit into the cutter. This is less likely to occur if the brand of the cutter and blade are different. In short: Match the brands!
Since they come in different sizes, why not invest in more than one size? This way you simply match them to your projects.
We strongly recommend you use a ruler. Not only will it help you keep those lines straight but it also acts as a protective barrier between your hand and the cutter. Once again: Safety is vital.
It’s a good idea to use a mat on your working surface—preferably a self-healing mat. Not only will it protect your surface but allows your blade to glide smoothly which makes for better workmanship.
Opt to always cut while standing rather than sitting. This way you get a better view of your work. While learning new habits always cut away from your body as opposed to pulling the device towards you as it’s a safer method.
While on cutting, always make sure you’re using a sharp blade. When it’s blunt, it’s time to throw it away. Blunt blades are more dangerous than sharp ones. Why? You tend to exert more pressure which increases chances of slip-ups.
Always exercise extra caution when changing the blade. Reading the manual before you do so is recommended
Yes, it can. Again this will depend on the type of cutter. However, if it has a thicker blade, the chances are high that it will work on carpet. Just check your manual for the specific materials it can cut through, so you don’t damage your new device.
More often than not, it can be caused by the position you’re holding the cutter. Tilting it towards one side will more than likely cause jamming. Aim to always hold it upright.
The shape of the blade also plays a role. The octagonal blade is designed against pulling of fabric.
High up on our list of top picks is the Reliable cutter. We love how easy it is to use and how it’s designed to give you excellent control as you cut. You can use it to cut through multiple layers of fabrics effortlessly. Plus, the cuts are pretty smooth, and you won’t have to worry about jamming with this model making it the best rotary cutter for dressmaking.
Following close behind are both rotary cutters from Hercules. Though similar they both have something different to offer depending on your sewing project. We appreciate the HRC-100 for its agility which makes it very easy to glide over the material you’re working on.
The ASK100-K is smaller than the HRC-100, making it your go-to for nipping sharp corners & edges. In addition, because it’s very portable, you’re likely to get your work done in no time because it’s so comfortable and easy to get used to.
Imagine your next sewing project—with one of these in your hand you’ll get it done even sooner. Which one will you pick?