Tutorial: Cutting Curves with a Rotary Cutter

Ever since I got my first rotary cutter I’ve thought it was THE most brilliant invention in sewing.  I mean, cutting with scissors is okay, but you have to lift the fabric to fit the blade under and since we all know fabric is fickle, lifting it off the surface can make it hard to cut straight.

If you want *perfect* fabric squares, there’s nothing better than a rotary cutter.  No lifting, no fabric distortion, everything comes out perfectly . . . except when it comes to curves.  For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out a way to cut curves.  I tried a little itty bitty rotary cutter,

mini cutter

but it was so tedious and it didn’t always come out right.  Plus the blade wasn’t wide enough to use with a ruler.  And moving a big ruler around  a curve?  Very awkward and no fun!

Enter this little baby, my Omnigrid 6″ x 1″ ruler:

mini ruler

It’s perfect for cutting curves – so easy to maneuver. And since there’s no way to do a picture tutorial, I’m trying something new to me – a video!


Originally uploaded by craftapple



It takes some practice, and if you get really good, you can forgo drawing on the fabric and just cut around pattern pieces without cutting into them!

As with all my tutorials, this method may not work for you, or maybe you’ve been doing it this way forever.  But just in case you haven’t, I wanted to share and hope you enjoy!

45 Responses to “Tutorial: Cutting Curves with a Rotary Cutter”

  1. 1 Jamie November 20, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Thank you for posting that video! That will certainly help me, I look forward to practicing that technique this weekend.


  2. 2 tryingtraditional November 20, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Wow, I have always thought it would be nice to figure out how to cut curves with a rotary. The little ruler was just added to my wish-list. It would have been great for the projects I did the last few days (including one of your patterns.)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. 3 Janellybelly November 21, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Thank you so much for posting this (just between you & me, I have been using a dinner plate – & not very successfully LOL!).
    Janelle xx

  4. 4 tinkerverve November 21, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Hey! You’re brilliant! I have done curves freehand but the cutter nips into the pattern and I don’t always have good control. I’ll remember that technique next time! thx.

  5. 5 thornberry November 21, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Thanks Linda! The video is fantastic, and it’s something I’ve always wondered how to do!

  6. 6 woody November 21, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Wow, Thanks for sharing that – it should make life a little easier.

  7. 7 teresa November 21, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Thank you so much for that video! I can’t wait to try it now.

  8. 8 Sweet Em November 21, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I’m impressed – to be honest I don’t think I have the manual control you have to keep the ruler in line AND cute all the way through the fabric the first time. I’ll give it a try though – Thanks.

  9. 9 Deb November 21, 2008 at 9:08 am

    wow… great video!! A video is worth a thousand pictures = }

  10. 10 applecyder November 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

    This is great. Esp for finicky little doll outfits. Thanks!

  11. 11 Allison November 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Ooooh – what a great tip – thanks!

  12. 12 kristin November 21, 2008 at 10:05 am

    You are a genius. Thank you!

  13. 16 Melanie November 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    amazing! And I like the new background too. 🙂

  14. 17 Ali November 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    ooo – I have both those items – just never thought to use them together. Thanks!

  15. 18 Hilari November 21, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    actually caught you on craftzine and had a little celebrity spotting moment…i was all “wait! i know her!” and then i realized, no, i actually don’t. sometimes webreality taps you on the shoulder at the oddest times….

  16. 19 Hoppo Bumpo November 21, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Fantastic video – thank you for sharing such a great tip.

  17. 20 Amanda November 21, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Wow! Thanks for posting this. I am clumsy with scissors or the rotary cutter, so I do not do well with curves! I will have to try this method soon.

  18. 21 randomrevelations November 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Who is holding the camera? Or did you have a 3rd arm I didn’t know about? Fun little video! Now I want to make a movie!

  19. 22 beverly November 22, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you! When I stop swooning over this elegant method, I’m going to get me a little ruler so I can do it myself!

  20. 24 Jocelyn November 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    OMG that has got to the best idea ever! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 🙂

  21. 25 Tiff@Three Peas November 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I need to get one of those!! That would make my life so much easier!!!

  22. 26 Alisa November 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Very cool. I usually just free hand it, but it is slow and not super accurate. Next time, I’ll try it your way. Thank you for taking the time to make the video!

  23. 27 Janine November 24, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    This is great! I need all the help I can get. I’m off to buy a small ruler!

  24. 29 Denise Felton November 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    This tute rocks! I’ve scheduled a link to this post to go live on my blog Thursday morning (Central USA time), Nov. 27. I hope it brings you a few extra clicks.


  25. 30 Christie November 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    This is great! I have had one of those little rulers and have been wondering why forever. Now it has a purpose! I’m going to have to try this out soon. Thanks for sharing such a great tip!

  26. 31 Regina December 2, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    That’s great. I’ve always been a little afraid of cutting curves that way.

  27. 33 Jenny December 6, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Hey 🙂 did I miss an “I’m going to be away” announcement? Everything okay? Nudge nudge.

  28. 34 Katrina December 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks! Didn’t even cross my mind because I didn’t think it was possible. Appreciate the video!!!

  29. 35 Natalie December 26, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing your video – I would never have thought to use my rotary cutter for cutting out patterns, I’m going to go buy a small ruler and give it a go!

  30. 36 Emera December 29, 2008 at 3:41 am

    A friend linked to your blog, and I found this post – absolutely brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind in the future.

  31. 37 Nick March 21, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Hey, I’m so interested of fashion, wanna try sewing how should I get it started?? Total newbie 🙂

  32. 38 Paper Trimmer November 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for the great demo! Cutting a straight line is hard enough and I never would have been brave enough to try a curve without this.

  33. 39 Mary Michael McTeague July 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Excellent! We were talking on the phone about how one might do it. A ruler didnt enter the conversation, Thanks so much,

  34. 40 Jenny Wells April 11, 2014 at 6:10 am

    🙂 What a great idea, i’m going to have to give that a try! I had one of these rulers stuck at the back of my drawer and never even thought of using it.

  35. 41 Phil Hewett February 9, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Phil Hewett
    February 9th, 2015 15:28

    Why use the ruler…why not just free hand it. It seems there is as much room for the ruler to move and there is to not stay precisely on the curve.
    I cut my curves with significant accuracy without the ruler. As you say though “…this method may not work for you…” Thank you for the video, it is very interesting.

  36. 42 bibs July 14, 2016 at 6:13 pm

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  1. 1 Video tutorial: Cutting curves with a rotary cutter · Needlework News @ CraftGossip Trackback on November 27, 2008 at 8:37 am
  2. 2 Video Tutorial: Cutting curves with a rotary cutter · Sewing @ CraftGossip Trackback on December 24, 2008 at 12:44 am
  3. 3 I wanna be like everyone else « Trackback on June 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

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Craft Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, crafting is my apple. It’s what I do to maintain my sanity while taking care of my family. I homeschool my three boys, ages 14, 15, and 16), am a quilter, a bagaholic, and pattern designer.  Oh – and I also like taking pictures.

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