Cutting Mats 101

Did you know is going to be a new periodic series to enlighten you on different aspects of the industry. We'll begin this one with an investigation into one of our most common tools--the cutting mat. Did you know that not all mats are equal?

My intent here is not to bash different companies, but the fact is that not all mats are the same, and each has characteristics that bounce them off my list. The other fact is that there is one that I prefer over all the others, and I'll give you the reasons why.

Self-Healing or Non Self Healing?

Over time, the self-healing capability of these mats is lost. If you have ever looked at our self-healing mats at the shop, you can see that with heavy use, they are no longer self-healing and now have ditches and divots all over them. The self-healing quality can prolong the use of your mat, but there are more important characteristics to consider when purchasing a cutting mat.

Now grab your cutting mat, and let's get started!

Surface Texture

Rub your hand across your mat. If your hand easily slips and slides across it, your fabric and ruler will too. Cutting mats with a slick, shiny surface do not make the cut (ha, ha! Get it?) in my book. These mats are usually less expensive and often found in big box stores. If you have learned to compensate for the slippery surface, then by all means continue to use it. I could not, and my fabric and ruler slipped all over the place.

The best mats are those that have a rough texture. The rough texture helps to grab onto your fabric and prevents it from slipping. 

Measurement Accuracy

Next, test out the accuracy of the grid lines on your mat by using one of your rulers. You want the mat's gridlines to match your ruler lines. In doing this, I actually discovered that the rulers I was using were inaccurate! I've stopped using those rulers and now use rulers that match my mats.

A note about using your mats for measuring...

The rule of thumb is to either use your mat or use your rulers so you have consistent measurements throughout your project. I never found this goal achievable and seemed to use my mat at times. To compensate for that I now make sure that my mats are as accurate as my rulers. Now I don't have to worry and can use whichever tool my project requires.

Final Evaluation

When purchasing a mat, you should consider two important characteristics--the surface texture and measurement accuracy. The products that I sell and that I use are the Creative Grid mats. They are the best ones that I have found on the market. They are incredibly accurate and grippy. They work perfectly with their rulers and have improved the accuracy of my cutting.

To learn more about these awesome mats, watch their YouTube video.

If you are familiar with another superior cutting mat, please share that information with us below. We love to learn about new products.



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  • Jeannie Burritt on

    Great article on the mats.

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