We will visit one of the most important tools for any quilter in our review of the 7 best cutting mats for quilting. As a quilter, it is essential to make sure you are using the right cutting mat for your project. The wrong type of cutting board could damage both your fabric and tools. You need to find one that will help protect your surfaces while also giving you the most control possible over your fabrics. It is important that you choose carefully when it comes to your cutting mat!
There are a variety of different materials that can be used for quilting cutting mats. The most popular types are self-healing cutting mats and plastic. Both types offer advantages and disadvantages for quilters and your individual needs and budget will help drive the decision of which is right for you. Before getting into my favorite cutting mats for quilting, let’s examine some basics.
What is a cutting mat for quilting?
A quilting cutting mat is an essential tool for any quilter. It is a thin piece of material, usually made out of plastic or rubber, that is used to protect your work surface and your tools when you are cutting fabric. A good cutting mat will have a self-healing surface, which means that it will close up any cuts or nicks that occur while you are cutting. This helps to prevent the fabric from being damaged and also keeps your tools sharp.
How to Use A Cutting Mat
All you have to do to utilize a cutting mat is lay it out on your working surface before placing your cloth piece on top of it. When using a cutting mat, it is important to make sure that you have the right tools for the job. You should use fabric scissors and a rotary cutter (not dull, always make sure the rotary blades are sharp) whenever possible. It is also a good idea to use a ruler or gridlines on your cutting mat to help you line up your cuts. Below is a great quilting ruler
Omnigrid 6 in X 24 Quilting Ruler, 6" x 24", Clear
If you are using a rotary cutter, again always make sure that the rotary blades is sharp and that you are using the correct cutting guide for the size of mat you are working with. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the cutter, as this can cause the blade to slip and damage your layers of fabric.
When cutting with scissors, make sure that you are using a sharp pair of scissors and that you are cutting in a straight line. Try to avoid making any sudden movements with your scissors, as this can also cause the blade to slip.
Plastic vs Self-Healing Mats
There are two main types of quilting cutting mats: self-healing and plastic. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, and which one you choose will depend on your individual needs and budget. Let’s take a closer look at each type!
Plastic Cutting Board
Plastic cutting mats are the most common type of quilting cutting mat. They are made out of a thin, durable plastic and are available in a variety of sizes. Plastic cutting mats are a good choice for quilters who are on a budget, as they are the most affordable type of cutting mat.
One downside to using a plastic cutting mat is that they can be a bit slippery, which can make it difficult to cut accurately. They also don’t have a self-healing surface, so nicks and cuts can damage your fabric.
If you are looking for an affordable cutting mat that is easy to use and doesn’t have a self-healing surface, then a plastic cutting mat is the right choice for you. Need some great fabric scissors to get your quilting setup going, below is one of my favorites.
Self-Healing Cutting Cutting Surfaces
Self-healing cutting mats are made out of a soft, rubbery material that closes up any cuts or nicks that occur while you are cutting. They have a grid lines or ruling printed on them to help you line up your cuts. This makes them the ideal choice for quilters who are looking for a precise cut.
One downside to self-healing cutting mats is that they are more expensive than plastic cutting mats.
If you are looking for a precision cutting mat that has a self-healing surface, then a self-healing cutting mat is the right choice for you. Looking for a great rotary cutter for quilting, below is one of my favorites
The maximum sharpness / Made in Japan /OLFA 45 mm tungsten steel Ergonomic Rotary Cutter & 45mm Rotary Blade Refill, 1-Pack Value Set
I’ve always been a practical person and I want to make the best decisions for my quilting. On a personal note, when comparing plastic and self-healing mats, the decision is pretty easy if your budget can afford it. My budget can only go so far, so when it came down to it, I choose to use a self-healing mat even though they were more expensive but I felt they are worth the investment and saves me money in fabric and tools over the course of their life.
Large vs. Small
When it comes to choosing the right quilting cutting mat, one of the most important factors to consider is size. Quilting cutting mats come in a variety of sizes, and it is important to choose the right size for your needs.
Large Cutting Mats
Large cutting mats are ideal for quilters who work with large pieces of fabric. They are available in sizes up to 24×36 inches, which provides plenty of room for large cuts.
One downside to using a large cutting mat is that they can be a bit cumbersome to move around. They also take up a lot of space, so they are not ideal for quilters who have limited storage space.
If you are looking for a large work area and not needing the mat to be portable, then a large cutting mat is right for you.
Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt: Learn the Basics of Walking Foot and Free-Motion Quilting
Small Cutting Mats
Small quilting cutting mats are ideal for quilters who frequently work with small pieces of fabric or like to make precise cuts. They come in sizes that range from 6×12 inches up to 12×18 inches, which provides plenty of room for small cuts and eliminates the need to move the mat.
One downside of a small cutting mat is that they can be a bit too small for some quilters. Some find it difficult to cut larger pieces of fabric on a small mat without running out of room.
If you are looking for a portable, easy to use cutting mat that works well with smaller pieces of fabric, then a small cutting mat is right for you.
Ruler Gridlines vs No Gridlines
Another important consideration when choosing a quilting cutting mat is whether or not you want grid line markings printed on the surface. Gridline markings are helpful tools for quilters who like to make precise cuts, as they help to line up your fabric correctly. If you are cutting a large piece of fabric, then grid lines can also help minimize the amount of fabric that slips off your mat.
One downside to having grid line markings is that they cost more than mats without them. Some people find the lines to be too distracting when they are trying to cut their fabric.
The 7 Best Quilting Cutting Mats
Now that you know more about the different types of quilting cutting mats, let’s take a look at my some of the best cutting mats for any type of quilting needs!
Best Cutting Small Mats for Quilters
Crafty World Quilt Mat
The Crafty World Self-Healing Mat is one of my favorite small cutting mats for quilting on the go. It has everything I want from a portable cutting mat, it is self-healing, has a strong grip and is durable with clear grid line markings to guide your cut.
The mat construction is 3mm thick and is a manageable 12 x 18 size that is small enough for travel but big enough to offer a nice work area. This is one cutting mat you cannot go wrong with regardless of your quilting experience level.
Cutting Mat for Sewing & Crafts - 12x18inches, Sturdy Rotary Cutting Mat w/ Self Healing, Non Slip Surface - Perfect Craft, Fabric Cutting Board for Quilting & Sewing - Large Double Sided Mats
June Tailor Cut ‘n Press – 12” x 18”
The June Tailor is one of my top picks for a plastic style mat. It is one of the more durable plastic mats I have used and provides for accurate cutting. It is great to sit in your lap with the solid surface while working on sewing projects. It is 12 x 18 in size. Again, it is plastic and has a smooth surface that is a bit slick and takes some getting use to. It is not self-healing so it is best for a light workload or as an extra portable cutting mat vs being used as your main mat.
June Tailor Quilter's Cut'n Press II 12 Inch x18 Inch
Fiskars 14”x14” Self-Healing Rotating Mat
Honestly, the fact that this mat can rotate to help you easily cut out squares is the main reason quilters love it. I mean, the sheer time this function saves you is enough reason to buy it. And when you add on the fact that this mat is self-healing and has an easy-to-read grid, it becomes irresistible!
One of my favorite time saving smaller mats. The main benefit of the Fiskars is that it can rotate. This makes it so easy to cut out squares. In addition, the mat is self-healing and the grid is easy to read. All together, it makes for a great small 14 x 14 sized cutting mat for quilting.
Fiskars 14x14 Inch Self Healing Rotating Cutting Mat
Best Portable Cutting Mat for Quilting
OLFA Folding Self-Healing Mat
The OLFA Folding Self-Healing Mat is a great mat and the measurements are 17″ x 24″. The surface construction is plenty durable with a 2.5mm thickness. The mat is self-healing and has a great grip and is great for projects of any size.
I imagine you are asking yourself why we would choose a larger mat as our top pick for a portable cutting mat. Let me answer that for you. As the name implies, the OLFA Folding Mat, folds. This makes it super covenant for traveling to and from quilting classes or vacations. In addition to folding, it is large enough once unfolded to provide a nice cutting area and the mat is double sided and features grid lines on one side.
Best Large Cutting Mats for Quilters
US Art Supply 24″ x 36″ Professional Self-Healing Mat
One of the sturdiest and most durable mats in our best cutting mats for quilters list. This large mat features 5-ply construction and has 1/2″ grid with markings at 1/8″. In addition to the easy to use large grid, it comes with both 45-degree and 60-degree angle guides. To top it off, this self-healing mat is double sided and ready to handle any fabric projects you throw at it.
U.S. Art Supply 24" x 36" White/Blue Professional Self Healing 5-6 Layer Double Sided Durable Non-Slip PVC Cutting Mat Great for Scrapbooking, Quilting, Sewing and All Arts & Crafts Projects
Alvin Professional Self-Healing Mat
Alvin, GBM Series Professional Self-Healing Cutting Mat, Large, Green/Black Double-Sided, Gridded Rotary Cutting Board for Crafts, Sewing, Fabric - 30 x 42 inches
OLFA Double-Sided, Self-Healing Mat – 24″ x 36″
One of my favorite large cutting mats is the OLFa 24″ x 36″ mat. It has one of the best grid markings of any mat on our list and one of my personal favorite mats to use. It is a great size and lasts a long time thanks to the durable the construction quality. One of the best larger mats on the market today and one any quilter can not go wrong in choosing for any projects.
OLFA 24" x 36" Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat
Wrapping It Up
We hope you enjoyed our overview of cutting mats. Quilters need cutting mats that will withstand the heavy workload of various projects and provide them with an accurate guide to cut their fabric pieces. With these 7 best cutting mats, the choice has never been easier! If you’re looking for help deciding which mat would be best suited for your needs, let us know;
Which one of these cutting mats do you like? Let me know in the comments below!
Do cutting mats wear out?
All cutting mats will eventually wear out regardless of how durable they are. A plastic mat will wear out much faster than a self-healing mat over the course of many quilting projects. You will know your mat is getting to end of life when cut marks become grooves which impact your cutting accuracy and also has the potential to snag your fabric.
How do you treat a self-healing mat?
There are several tips to prolong the life of your self healing cutting mat for sewing or quilting. First, make sure to flip or rotate the mat often during quilt projects. This prevents you from cutting in the same spot over and over.
When storing your mat, make sure to store it flat. This will keep it from warping.
Only wash your mat with slightly warm water and a mild detergent. Avoid using harsh chemicals as it will shorten the life of your cutting mat.
Finally, make sure you are using a sharp rotary cutter. Dull blades will create grooves in your mat.
Following these few tips should greatly prolong the use of your mat.
What are self healing cutting mats made out of?
Self-healing cutting mats are made out of a variety of materials; the most common material is PVC material that is compressed together. The ability to pass through these segments allows a blade to cut between them, after which they will close back together or “heal” when the knife is removed.
What is the difference between a cutting mat and a self healing cutting mat?
The main difference between the two is how they heal after an incision is made through them. Plastic mats will have indents left over from where they were cut, over time this may snag your quilt fabric or leave perforations in it. Self healing mats will “self-heal” after an incision is made through them. They close back together with no indents left over, leaving your fabric intact.
Can I make my own self healing cutting mat?
You absolutely can create your own self-healing mat for your quilt fabric. It is an inexpensive and easy DIY craft project. You can see my full guide at DIY How to Make A Self Healing Cutting Mat.