My cutting mat for fabric is one of my most-used and most-loved sewing tools. It’s there for me at the start of every project, and it helped me level up my sewing practice when I was just a baby stitcher.
Choosing the right fabric cutting mat may feel daunting — there are more than 7,000 results on Amazon for “cutting mat” in the Arts, Crafts & Sewing department alone!
Rest assured, YOUR ideal (or next) cutting mat for fabric is out there, and this article gives you five places to start the search.
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Benefits of Using a Fabric Cutting Mat
Here are the top three cutting-mat benefits for garment sewists.
1.) A mat gives you a smooth, flat, task-specific surface for cutting fabric. No more cutting on lumpy, soft carpeting (ugh!) or worrying about damaging a tabletop or flooring.
2.) A mat will speed up cutting fabric — especially if you use a rotary cutter, too. When you use a task-specific surface, the task can only help to go faster, right?
3.) Most mats have a ruler grid. The grid is incredibly useful for sewing-room measurements of all kinds — pattern pieces, elastic, stashed fabric yardage, etc. — and for finding grainline.
🛑 BUT WAIT, I have a super-bonus non-sewing benefit for you!
4.) A mat is the perfect surface for wrapping presents (and other household or school projects that call for scissors or a utility knife). I’m thankful for my cutting mat every Christmas, no joke.
Garment Sewists’ Best Cutting Mats for Fabric
I scoured the internet for the finest variety of fabric cutting mats — variety because different sewists have different needs. Here’s what I came up with for you.
🏆 The All-Around Winner: Olfa Connecting Grid Self-Healing Rotary Mat Set, 35 by 70 inches
This is a set of three 24-by-36-inch mats. To get to 70 inches, the mats are joined with four clips.
I have two of these mats (and at one point I had two clips to join them, but I lost one, wah!).
Yes, they’re as good as people say they are. You can cut on both sides, the (imperial) grid is accurate, and they wear like iron (save for a burr every once in a while). I’ve had my Olfa mats for 10-plus years, and they’re still going strong.
My No. 1 tip when buying a cutting mat is, buy the largest mat you can afford (and store, natch). The less you have to shift around large pieces of fabric when you’re cutting patterns, the happier you will be. And, your cutting will be more accurate, too.
It’s an investment, but you’ll probably have them forever.
💵 The Budget Option: Dritz 890 Superboard Durable Kraft Board, 39.75 x 72 inches
If you need a big, flat area for cutting out sewing patterns, this is your jam. It’s a whopping 6-feet long and more than a yard wide.
That’s a lot of square feet for cutting fabric for less than $25.
This cutting mat is made of sturdy quarter-inch corrugated cardboard, so it’s not self-healing.
It features imperial and metric measurements and folds down to 12-by-39.75 inches for storage. Plus, because it’s cardboard, you can pin fabric to it.
When you decide that it’s too beat up to carry on, you can recycle it (or give it to your grand/kids to play with — my sons are obsessed with cardboard). ♻️
👜 The Portable Option: Fiskars Crafts Folding Cutting Mat, 24 x 36 inches
Sewists have places to go and people to stitch with. We need sewing supplies that travel as efficiently as we do.
That’s why there’s such a thing as this folding mat for cutting fabric, which unfolds to an impressive 24 by 36 inches. My stationary self-healing Olfa mat is 24 by 36! (Do I need to upgrade?)
When it’s not in use, the mat tri-folds down to 12 by 24 inches, and it has a hang hole for vertical storage. We 👏 love 👏 vertical 👏 storage. 👏
Speaking of folding products, did you know that Fiskars also has a 6-by-24-inch folding ruler? It’s the perfect partner to a folding fabric cutting mat.
👹 The Biggest Beast: Rhino Self-Healing Cutting Mat with Grid Sheet, 4 x 8 feet
I looked and looked and looked, and this was the biggest cutting mat for fabric I could find.
This is a two-piece product. The grid sheet sits underneath the translucent plastic cutting mat.
Did some research, and this cutting mat actually is intended for “large applications and fabricating environments.” Yeah, it’s heavy duty.
If you added this mega mat to an adjustable-height workbench, you’d create a drool-worthy cutting table. (P.S. Did you know you can buy workbench plans on Etsy?) Oh, to have that much sewing space.
💫 The Spinning Option: Off the Wall Quilt Rotating Cutting Mat, 18 inches
This is the largest rotating cutting mat I could find — an 18-inch diameter. That’s 255.5 square inches of cutting area, BOOM.
You may ask, “Yo, Erin. Why would I want a rotating cutting mat?”
And I would say, “DUDE, because with a rotating cutting mat, you spin the project to where you are standing, instead of walking around the whole table!”
Smart, right? No more kinking your arm in strange positions.
It’s true it’s not the biggest cutting mat. But, it’d be PERFECT for smaller pattern pieces — collars, cuffs, bust cups, etc. And, a lot of those small-ish pieces tend to have a lot of curves, corners, and edges, which makes putting the project in a more comfortable cutting position for YOU particularly awesome.
When you buy the 18-inch rotating mat, you also get a lil’ 7-inch rotating mat, and both mats are double-sided.
Bonus: Cutting Mat Maintenance
Here are some products to make sure your fabric cutting mat stays in tip-top condition.
Colonial Needle Mat Smoother
If you’ve had a rotary cutting mat for a while, you know that over time its once-smooth surface gets roughed up. How frustrating is it to get fabric snagged on a burr on your mat? SO. INFURIATING.
Say hi to the mat smoother. This circular-sanding-block-looking gadget removes cuts, knicks, and burrs from the mat’s surface without rubbing off the ruler grid.
The little doo-dad also has more than 200 four-and-a-half-star ratings on Amazon.
Mat Magic Cleaner Cleaning Fluid for Cutting Mats
A few drops of Mat Magic Cleaner and a microfiber cloth clean up well-loved (and well-soiled) self-healing cutting mats.
After using Mat Magic, one reviewer on Etsy said, “My cutting mats are now as good as new!”
Cutting Mat Cleaner Tool from The Gypsy Quilter
This heart-shaped silicone scrubber picks up loose threads, lint, and dust from cutting mats. Just slide in your hand and rub away in little circles.
I kinda totally want to buy this, because I loathe picking up cut-off thread ends.
Final Thoughts About Fabric Cutting Mats
Getting a cutting mat changed my sewing practice forever. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not.
Once I had a big, smooth surface for cutting out patterns — and then I got started with rotary cutters! — my efficiency and accuracy skyrocketed.
I still use fabric shears from time to time (when I want to go old school), but the expediency of a fabric cutting mat + a rotary cutter is a thing of beauty.
I want to hear from you! If you have a cutting mat, how big is it? Is it a good size? Is it self-healing? If you DON’T have a cutting mat for fabric, why not? Ooh, and please drop your mat recommendations in the comments, too. Thanks for reading.