When I was asked if I would review the new Fiskars Rotary Cutter & Ruler Combo, I immediately said YES! I’m a quilter, and have been for more than half of my life. I teach quilting at a local quilt shop, and often do demos of new rulers. Quilters, as a group, love gadgets. We haven’t met a new notion we don’t immediately think we need. And companies know this. So they are constantly coming out with new notions for us to buy. The challenge is, we can only spend our money once – is it worth spending it on a new ruler, or on more fabric for our stash?
I should also add that I love Fiskars products. I’m on my second standard Fiskars rotary cutter, having worn out the first. Did I mention that I do quite a bit of quilting?
When I evaluate a new quilting product, like this Rotary Cutter & Ruler Combo by Fiskars, I look at 3 things. First: Will it save me time? Second: Will it make me more accurate? Third: Do I have to have it? I’ll answer these questions at the end of this post, first I want to address the features of the tool.
Here is what Fiskars says about their Rotary Cutter and Ruler Combo:
Specifically designed to cut multiple layers, a rotary cutter with a 6″ x 24″ ruler attached makes measuring and making perfect cuts through fabric easier than ever.
Great for beginners, the unique design of this tool makes perfect cuts through fabric a breeze — since you’re not managing two tools separately, you don’t have to struggle with a misaligned ruler or worry about holding the rotary cutter straight. It includes a 45 mm spring-action rotary blade that makes clean cuts through multiple layers of fabric and an ergonomic blade carriage that makes cutting smooth and easy. The ruler features a bold 6″ x 24″ grid that is printed on both sides for right- or left-handed use, plus highlighted numbers for excellent visibility on light or dark fabric. The unique rail design prevents lint build up as you work, the no-touch magnetic blade change system makes blade change safe and easy while storing used blades, and a carrying handle offers easy, convenient transportation.
- Ideal for measuring and making precise, clean cuts through fabric when strip cutting, cutting long swaths, cutting basic shapes like triangles and more
- Ergonomic handle and a 45 mm rotary blade make smooth, confident cuts through multiple layers of fabric easy
- Spring-activated blade only engages when in use
- Built-in ruler features a 6″ x 24″ measuring grid with highlighted numbers that are easy to see on light or dark fabric
- Grid is clearly printed on both sides for easy right- and left-handed use
- Bias lines make it easy to measure angles before cutting
- Rail design prevents lint build up
- Traction strip provides excellent stability while cutting
- Magnetic system provides easy, safe, no-touch blade change (extra blades and magnetic blade change tool sold separately, see item 195120-1001)
- Built-in handle offers convenient transportation
The carriage that houses the rotary blade is very comfortable to use. If I was cutting a lot of 2.5″ strips for a quilt, this would be a go-to ruler. It also cuts through 8 layers of fabric at once. I didn’t quite do it right the first time, though.
That was my only mis-cut, though. I had success with every other cut – so I would chalk this one up to a learning curve.
The 6×24″ ruler is a lovely, large size. A recent advancement in rulers is adding both dark and light lines so that they can be seen on both dark and light fabric. The Fiskars ruler does this, but not very successfully, for my taste. A company that does an excellent job of adding both dark and light lines is Creative Grids. I put the Fiskars ruler and Creative Grids ruler side by side so that you can see the difference.
On the top is the Fiskars ruler, and on the bottom is Creative Grids. You can see they both have lots of lines, in both white and black. The Fiskars ruler (top) has white around their black lines, whereas the Creative Grids ruler has white dashed lines in addition to the black lines. This is a BIG difference.
Because the white lines on the Fiskars ruler are opaque, they make the line 3-4 threads thick. Their quarter-and-half-inch lines are only about one thread thick. This means that if you are cutting a strip that is a whole number of inches thick (3″ or 5″), your accuracy can be off by several threads. For a beginner, that isn’t a big deal. For a seasoned quilter, every few threads off on each strip contributes to the whole quilt being off by the time it is finished. Since the half inch lines don’t have the added thickness of the opaque white, it is still perfect for cutting 2.5″ strips.
I do love how easy the ruler is to use with both the right and left hand. Because my quilting table isn’t easy to walk around, sometimes I find myself (a rightie) wanting to make a left-handed cut. The Fiskars rotary cutter and ruler combo cut left-handed beautifully.
I did use the angled lines to cut some bias strips for binding. They were easy to use, and very accurate.
My only wish is that the ruler was about 2″ longer to be able to cut bias strips out of fat quarters. With a standard rotary cutter and ruler, you can “fudge” the ends of a bais line to cut all the way accross, slightly beyond the edges of the ruler. Because this rotary cutter is fixed in place, you can’t go beyond the edges, and end up with a cut that is slightly short when cutting a fat quarter on the bias. This, however, is the only time that I found the length of the ruler to be an issue.
I had virtually no lint build-up, and the ruler did not slip at all during use. There is anti-slip built into the entire length of the ruler, under the metal rail. Fiskars was so smart to put the anti-slip there – it doesn’t interfere with being able to see through the ruler at all, and the pressure of engaging the blade engages the anti-slip at the same time. Genius.
It does have a carrying handle, that makes it easy to transport. However, if you push down on the blade carriage, it engages the blade. Carry this around and have someone bump into it, hard enough to push it into your leg, and at the very least you’ll cut your pants leg. The blade doesn’t come down so far that you’d be needing stitches, but it would be nice for there to be some kind of lock on the carriage to keep the blade from engaging when bumped. This would also be handy for transporting it in the car – if the carriage gets pushed down, it will cut whatever is on the other side. If that is a finished quilt you’re bringing to a guild meeting, you’ll be mighty sad.
I was not sent a new blade, so I did not have a chance to check out the magnetic blade change system, but I am excited about it. I love that Fiskars is thinking of a new way to change rotary cutter blades. And the new system also allows for safe disposal of the old blade – very smart. My first quilting experience involved two stitches from a rotary cutter incident, so I’m very excited whenever a company works to make these essential quilting tools safer.
Now down to my criteria. After using the ruler to cut out a quilt… what do I think?
Will it save me time?
Not really. I’ve been using a rotary cutter for over a decade, so I’m pretty fast when it comes to cutting.
Will it make me more accurate?
Maybe. When cutting 2.5″ strips, it cut through 8 layers beautifully, with no slip. This is tough to do with a regular rotary cutter and ruler. For a new quilter, where a few threads off isn’t a big deal, and where a rotary cutting can often lead to injury, I would say that will help with accuracy as well as safety.
Do I need it?
Often, the rulers that fall into this category are the rulers called for in a pattern – without the ruler, there is no way to complete the quilt. However, if I was teaching a quilt class for young quilters, and I wanted to introduce rotary cutting, I would say that I need this ruler. There are gloves and other tools out to help reduce injuries from rotary blades, but this is the safest rotary tool I have seen. The blade is not exposed until it engages with the fabric, there is a large metal rail between fingers and the blade the entire time it is exposed, and it automatically tucks away when not being used. When my boys want to make their first quilt, this will be the rotary cutter I reach for.
Do you need to run out and buy this ruler? That’s up to you. If you cut a lot of strips that use a 1/2″ mark, you might think it is handy – especially if you are prone to hand or wrist fatigue. If you are a new quilter, you’ll like the stability that the ruler provides. If you’re teaching a brand-new quilter, you will absolutely want to have this ruler on hand – it might save you a trip to the ER!
The Fiskars Rotary Cutter and Ruler Combo retails for $59.99 – about half of my ER copay. Or if you use our CTD affiliate link, you can get it for less!
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