Monday, July 10, 2017

Cutting Mat of Doom

About a month ago, I noticed that my rotary cutter blades were dulling quite fast. They were definitely new, but it seemed that in half the amount of time per usual, they were unusable. I do a lot of cutting and sewing, so this was really important (plus, the price of rotary blades is terribly high). Did I buy a faulty batch? Had I installed them wrong? What was going on?


Well, after we moved, I took a look at my cutting mat, clean and free of all debris. And I realized how thin parts of it had become (both sides); so thin, in fact, that it felt like my cutter might go slicing right through one of these days. I've heard of that happening. Then the lightbulb blinked on: it was time to go and buy a new cutting mat, after 4 years of heavy use.


Almost simultaneously, I received an end-of-the-school-year gift card from a longtime student, which was so very sweet. It significantly reduced my investment! I ended up with a 24" x 36" green Olfa mat. At first, I was disappointed because it's only marked on one side, but it was by far the most quality one I could find in person. And guess what? The rotary cutter glides like a dream. What do you know?

Has something like this happened to you? If you've been sewing for a long time, how often do you buy new cutting mats? What do you do with old mats? I'm keeping my other one for now to use as a backup and for sewing days, but I can't imagine using it for heavy cutting anymore.



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22 comments:

  1. I replaced my mat about two years ago (I got the original mat in 2010!) except that despite it being the same brand, it is much stiffer and there are places where the rotary cutter has gone clear through to the opposite side and places where the plastic has literally chipped off. I had saved my original mat and thank goodness that I did because I basically only use the "new" one for pictures and use the "old" one as my primary mat because despite it being used for almost seven years straight with a short hiatus, it is still in better condition than my newer mat. Hmph.

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  2. My original mat was a transparent one. It was small and I only used it a few years. I actually still have it and use it at the craft end(painting, paper stuff etc) of my 9 foot church cutting table. I have a number of smaller ones I keep under/next to my sewing machine and a large on on my table. I dont always cut on the lines of the mat and rotate it occasionally. I haven't worn any of these out because I cut on so many different surfaces.

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  3. I do my best to clean my mat and keep it new, but I honestly end up buying a new one about once every 18-24 months. My husband takes my old ones and used them in the garage. :) Speaking of which, my new blade just dulled really quickly... yeah, I might need a new one, too. Time to go take a look.

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  4. I'm on my third mat since starting to sew in 2010. I'd like to get a cute colored mat as all of mine have been Olfa teal. I'm ready for some other color!

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  5. I did actually cut all the way through my small mat and replaced it with a new one, but I find all sorts of uses for old mats. If you do a variety of crafts, there's always a need for something to protect your nice table! I used an old mat recently to cut strips of cardboard with a utility knife in order to make new scratching posts for my cats.

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  6. I do use the back side of my mats but then I rarely use the printed markings.

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  7. Was your old one a fiskars mat? They will replace them for FREE! There is a warranty claim on their website that you fill out and they mail you a new one!

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  8. I've heard that you could use the mats in the bottoms of bags. Makes them sturdy.

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  9. Yes, mats wear out. I think the Olfa ones are easiest on the cutters. I too use the back of the mat as I almost never use the lines on the mat. Blades are expensive, especially in Canada with the exchange. (CAD=1.4x USD) But we need good tools. We are artisans and a woodworker for example would not think of carving with blunt tools.

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  10. A friend of mine cuts her old mats up and uses them as dividers for her fat quarters in her storage containers. I just replaced my large one and haven't decided what to do with the old one yet. I also notice that my cutting isn't quite as accurate when my mat gets old (at least that's my excuse!).

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  11. When I started quilting 6 years ago, my teacher said not to use the cutting lines on mats because they aren't always accurate. So I've never used the mats for that purpose. I am on my second mat but only because I went up a size from the medium sized version I had at first. I have a small mat I keep in my tote for when I got to day retreats, etc.

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  12. I recently flipped the two 24x36" Olfa mats that I use taped together to create a larger mat. They are 90's vintage mats. One saw little use during my home school years and the other I picked up at an estate sale and it was obviously her backup as she had a large industrial table with mats in her studio. My cobbled together setup had developed split pitting that was making my blade skip threads. I drew two perpendicular Sharpie lines on the back and so far it has worked quite well but I know I am just buying time.

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  13. I always buy my blades with a coupon at Hobby lobby or JA Fab. They are just close by, I could go to Michaels too. I like sharp tools and find that I do not gouge my mat as much.
    When my mat gets wobbly to cut on, I hunt for a new one. When I find a good deal I get it.
    I have two old ones that I use for the grand kiddos, for play doh fun, painting etc. I can hose them off. The one I have now is a Fiskars.
    I save all of my crummy old blades in a box, and use them to cut cardboard, or pizza... just kidding, paper and stuff.
    Have a fun roasty toasty week

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  14. I've only replaced my mat once, but I have been noticing it's time for a new one. I've got my eye on the same one you got...the Olfa 24" x 36" inch. Hope that fixes things for you. --Andrea

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  15. I turn my mat over and use the RULER to measure, NOT the lines on the mat. This ensures that your cuts are accurate, and the mat stays cleaner for longer. Old trick, works great. I have had one mat for 20 years, and no problems.

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  16. I start out by marking the date of purchase in a sharpie on the back of my mat and add my name. If I take it to a sew day, I can find my mat. When I replaced my mat (2012), I marked my old mat as BATTING and only cut batting on it because batting tends to get down in the slices and case problems. I bought a white Fiskars mat because it is getting harder to cut dark fabric on a teal board. But I don't particularly like the mat because it feels like my blade cuts deeper into the board. I have lots of old boards that I use to cut paper, cardboard, and sometimes set up pieces of blocks on them or transport things from sewing machine to ironing board or cutting table to sewing machine. It is better to use up your supplies than to buy them and let them sit!!!

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  17. I replace mine about every 2 years and come to think of it, I'm overdue for a new one...I was just complaining about how quickly my last rotary blade got dull so I guess I need to go ahead and get one soon.

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  18. On my first cutting mat, I actually did split a hole right through it on the 10" line. I kept that one waaaaayy to long! My current mat is probably about a year old, and I think it's got another year in it.

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  19. I've had my cutting mat way too long (maybe over 5 years?) but I don't use the markings on the board and it is two sided to I have not worn through any one area too much.

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  20. Have you tried Quilting Blade that is advertised and sold on Amazon for half price sometimes so its only $12.50 for 5 blades. I tried them and they are excellent and fit my Gingher cutter. I recommend them

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  22. What great comments! I use both the grid on my mat and my ruler to measure; it never occurred to me to turn my mat upside and cut on the back. Brilliant -- that would definitely increase its longevity!

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