When I first started quilting I took an awesome beginners class. Not only did I learn how to quilt, I learned some awesome tips for using a cutting mat.
First make sure your mat is ‘comfortable’ by that I mean a few different things. First the numbers need to ascend left to right. This makes it easier when you are counting. Second I like to have my mat at a convenient height. I usually set mine up on the kitchen island. This way I don’t have to bend over. I don’t like to sit while I am cutting and when I do I usually end up standing anyway. Third make sure you have enough room around the mat to set your supplies.
Another great tip I learned was to line your fabric up with the mat, not the mat up with the fabric. If you don’t I have noticed that things don’t end up very square, and when you are quilting precision is key. I always start by squaring off my fabric. To do this fold it so it fits on your cutting mat. Then line up the folded edge with the mat. Next line up the ruler with your mat to ‘straighten’ the raw edges. This makes it so much easier to work with. It really doesn’t take that much time either, plus it saves time in the end.
Make sure your ruler is secure before you start cutting. I can’t tell you how many times I have cut something crooked because I didn’t focus on the ruler. I usually cut slowly and inch my hand holding the ruler up the same pace as the rotary cutter.
Always hold your rotary cutter upright. This helps the self healing mat to do it’s job. I have also gotten in the habit of putting the safety on while I am not using my rotary cutter. They are so sharp and it is easy to cut yourself.
I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any other tips you would like to share we would love to hear them!