What Size Rotary Cutter Blade Do I Need? (Solved & Explained)

When buying your first rotary cutter, you will face several different sizes and styles.

From the smallest 18-millimeter blades to the largest 60-millimeter options, each rotary blade is specially designed to take on different sewing and crafting tasks. 

How to Determine the Size of Rotary Cutter You Need: 

The rotary cutter you need will depend on your sewing style. Small rotary blades are great for small curves and detail work. Large 60mm blades are great for cutting multiple layers quickly and cleanly. The standard 45mm blade is the most versatile option and is a great choice for beginners.

What Are the Common Diameter Sizes of Rotary Blades?

There are four common blade diameter sizes for rotary cutters. You have the small cutters, which have diameters of 18 and 28 millimeters.

Next, you have the standard 45-millimeter blade. Finally, the largest cutter measures 60 millimeters in diameter. 

Each of these cutters is designed for different purposes. While the 45-millimeter is the most versatile and popular, each size has something to contribute to your sewing projects. 

Are Smaller or Larger Rotary Blades Better for Cutting?

Different rotary blade sizes are ideal for different projects.

Smaller blades will be better if you need to cut out small detailed curves. Large blades are the better choice for long, straight lines over many yards of fabric. 

The smaller the blade, the more precise tiny curved cuts will be. If you like to work with paper or cut small, freehand details in single layers of fabric, you will want to have an 18-millimeter blade on hand. 

28-millimeter blades can take on a few thin layers of fabric and are great for curves when cutting out patterns. 

The standard size 45-millimeter blade is a great choice for most sewing projects. This blade is big enough to take on all types of common materials and to cut through several layers at once.

It is still manageable enough that you can cut smooth curves without the size of the blade getting in the way.

Larger rotary blades, like the 60-millimeter, are ideal for larger projects or multiple layers of fabric. If you are using a thick fabric or planning to cut many layers at once, you will need a larger rotary blade. 

If you want to cut long, straight lines and do it fast, the 60-millimeter rotary blade will be your best option. Since once rotation of this blade covers the most fabric, you will be able to cut quickly and cleanly. 

The best blade for cutting will depend on your sewing project.

However, a standard 45-millimeter blade will be the most versatile choice if you are just starting. 

Can You Replace the Size of Your Rotary Blade?

Your rotary cutter is designed to fit one blade size.

If you purchase a 45-millimeter rotary cutter, you will not be able to replace the blade with a 60-millimeter or 28-millimeter blade. You will need to purchase an additional rotary cutter if you want different blade sizes.  

All rotary cutters are fitted with safety features to secure the blade when not in use. These safety guards are specially designed for the size of the blade that the cutter came with. 

These safety guards must function as intended with the correct blade size. This will keep you and any family members or pets around your sewing supplies safe.

It will also protect the blade from getting knicked, dropped, or otherwise damaged. 

Once you have purchased a rotary cutter in your desired size, you can easily exchange or replace blades of the same size. This is ideal for installing new, sharp blades or exchanging the straight blade for a more decorative option.

Sharpening and Replacing Blades

Rotary cutter blades will get dull over time and need to be sharpened or replaced.

You can easily purchase replacement blades that match the original blade size. You can keep these on hand and use them when needed. 

Alternatively, you can buy an at-home sharpener. You can find manual or electronic versions to help you sharpen your blades at home.

When you notice your blade requires more pressure to cut cleaning or is leaving threads behind, you can sharpen it right away and get back to cutting effortlessly. 

Using Decorative Blades

Another option is to replace your straight blade with a specialty decorative blade.

Specialty blades come in the same standard sizes and can be used instead of the standard straight blade on your rotary cutter. 

You might want to try a pinking blade or scallop blade if you want a decorative edge to your fabric.

If you want to incorporate some crochet to the edges of your project, you can try a skip-cut blade. These blades will leave holes behind that you can use later for decorative crochet. 

Can You Cut Multiple Layers of Fabric with Rotary Blades?

The larger your rotary cutter blade is, the more suitable it will be for cutting multiple layers of fabric.

Choosing either a standard 45-millimeter or larger 60-millimeter blade is the best choice for cutting multiple layers of fabric at once.

A 45-millimeter blade can comfortably take on 4 8 layers of standard cotton fabric. A large 60-millimeter blade can usually handle up to 12 layers of similar fabric. If you choose to cut layers of thicker fabric, the number of layers will be a bit less. 

Remember, the harder the cut is for the blade to make, the more quickly it will dull. If you regularly cut multiple layers of fabric, keep an eye on your blade for signs that it is getting dull. 

When it is no longer making clean cuts and leaves threads behind when cutting, it is time to replace or sharpen the blade. 

What Size Rotary Cutter is Best for Quilting?

Quilters commonly choose the 60-millimeter blade since it is best equipped for cutting many layers of fabric and batting needed for a quilt.

It is also the fastest and most efficient cutter for long cuts over many yards of fabric. 

Using a large rotary cutter with a quilting ruler lets quilters make long, straight cuts fast. These large cutters will also be up to cut through any thicker materials you might have included in your quilt, like denim or fleece. 

If you like to create small, curved cuts for the details of your quilting squares, you will also want to keep a smaller rotary cutter on hand.

If you prefer making straight cuts for smaller pieces, a 45-millimeter blade is a great choice. 

What Size Rotary Cutter is Best for Apparel?

When sewing garments, your pattern might require you to maneuver around many curves.

To cut these curves as smoothly as possible, you will want to choose the 28-millimeter or 45-millimeter rotary cutter.

If you are cutting out a pattern on thinner fabric that features many dramatic curves, the 28 millimeter is a great choice. If you have a pattern with gentler curves that will require a thicker fabric, the 45 millimeter is a better choice for you. 

Of course, you might choose to use multiple sizes to cut out one piece of your pattern.

The 45-millimeter blade for straight cuts and the 28-millimeter blade for curved sections will help you cut quickly and effectively. 

Final Thoughts

When purchasing the best rotary cutter for you, think about what you will most use your cutter for.

This will help you find the perfect cutter to add to your essential supplies. 

  • If you are an avid quilter, you will want a 60-millimeter cutter for long, straight lines and multiple layers of fabric. 
  • If you focus on smaller detailed work, consider the 18 and 28-millimeter cutters.
  • If you’re not sure yet, you can’t go wrong with a standard 45-millimeter blade. 

Sources:

All Free Sewing: Rotary Cutter Blade Guide

Cotton Patch: What Sizes of Rotary Cutters Are There?

Suzy Quilts: Quilting Rotary Cutters