Last year I received a die fabric cutter as a Christmas gift from my husband. Using a rotary cutter and mat to cut fabric into desired shapes for quilt blocks was the fastest and easiest process I knew until I saw a die cutter demonstration at a high-end fabric store. After viewing that demonstration, I knew I had to have one. However, now that I have used my die cutter for a several months, I am finding it may not be the best way to cut fabric.
How rotary cutting works
The basic tools need for rotary cutting are a rotary cutter, ruled mat and ruler. Fabric is first folded on the strait of the grain. Then it is squared using the ruled mat and ruler. The raw edge is trimmed off before you make you predetermined cut. Once you have the correct measurement lined up with the ruler, you make one cut with the rotary cutter the length of the fabric. You then make more cuts to get the desired shapes.
How a die cutter works
The die cutter works similar to the rollers on an old washing machine. Folded fabric is placed on the dies, which contain the shaped blades, which are then rolled through the rollers. As the weight of the rollers push down on the dies, the fabric is cut into the shape of the die being used.
Die cutters are marketed as cutting precise shapes, which in turn creates perfectly square quilt blocks. I have found this to be true. The squares, triangles, and other shapes are precision cut and when sewn correctly produce a perfectly square quilt block. However, rotary cutting also produces perfectly square pieces, provided the fabric has been squared, cut and sewn straight.
The die cutter not only has dies to cut shapes for quilt blocks, but also has dies to cut shapes for applique projects such as flowers and animals, which can be used for quilt blocks or other craft projects. Trying to cut these types of shapes with a rotary cutter is next to impossible. Your best bet would be to use a pair of scissors.
Although manufacturers of die cutters boast that there is little fabric waste when using a die cutter, I have to disagree. Although I fold and position the fabric on the die cutter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, I find I have more waste than if I were cutting fabric using a rotary cutter. The only time a die cutter is useful is when odd shapes, such as flower or animals is needed for a quilting or other project.
Source: Personal Experience