One of the questions we routinely get asked when it comes to fabric cutting is, why not just use scissors instead?
Scissors simply won’t get you the precision of using a specialist craft cutter. Not only do you need a pair of incredibly sharp and small scissors, you also need experienced hand control to match the accuracy of a machine.
Not only that, but using a fabric cutting machine is much quicker and easier than the laborious task of manual cutting.
No achy fingers and hands when you use a machine!
If you already own a craft cutting machine and are wondering why you might want to start cutting fabric with it, consider these projects:
Essentially, any craft project you can think of which entails cutting out fabric shapes and lettering will be made all the more easier with a fabric cutting machine.
Manual or Digital Fabric Cutting Machines?
Before you decide which fabric cutter you want to buy, you should consider whether you’d prefer a manual or a digital machine.
There are two schools of thought on this.
Some people prefer using manual die cutters to cut fabric, whereas others opt for more high-tech digital.
Which one you prefer will depend entirely on your personal circumstances. Here are the pros and cons for each.
Manual Fabric Die Cutter Machine
Crank operated die cutters are the traditional choice for cutting fabric and felt.
Cheaper than digital cutters
Easy to use: no fiddling around with blades and cutting mats
Some can cut multiple layers
You can choose from a huge range of dies for your cut patterns
Suitable for kids and beginners
Can work with a few other thin materials too
Not as precise as digital fabric cutters
Typically a narrow cutting width
Digital Fabric Cutting Machine
Digital craft cutters can do a whole lot more than just cut fabric — but are they any good at that?
Offers precise and accurate cutting on a variety of materials, including fabric and felt
You can cut any design you like (including your own designs, uploaded images and cartridges), and are not just restricted to available dies
Can work with a wide range of materials
Larger maximum cut size than manual die cutters
Software allows you to minimize fabric waste and cut efficiently
You don’t need to operate it manually — it’s more set and forget
More expensive than a fabric die cutter
Might require more trial and error to get things working quickly and easily
Personally, we prefer digital machines every time — not only do they deliver the more precise cuts (and have more room for creativity), but they can usually do a whole lot more than manual die cutters are able to do.
That’s not to say that you should write off a fabric die cutter, however. They’re great for people on a budget or with a limited amount of fabric cutting to do.
We’ve included a mix of manual and digital fabric cutting machine reviews below, so you can pick which is the best for you.
Don’t forget to tell us how you get on!
The Best Fabric Cutting Machines
Here goes: the 6 best machines for cutting fabric and felt…
12″ max cutting width
The Cricut Maker was released in 2017 and is already making waves in the fabric cutting community.
As you might guess from its ‘Maker’ name, this isn’t just a fabric cutting machine. By rights, it’s a craft cutting machine that is a whizz on fabrics and a host of other materials.
This is thanks to the brand new Rotary Blade that can glide and roll in any direction to cut through fabric like butter. Add to that the impressive 4kg of force that the machine is packing, and you’re looking at a very powerful fabric cutter indeed.
Can cut through any fabric without the need for backing
Rotary Blade is very sharp and accurate – no bum cuts here!
The Adaptive Tool System means that the machine is compatible with all past, present and future Cricut tools
4kg of force for powerful cuts
Optional Knife Blade for cutting materials up to 2.4 mm thick
Access to a huge sewing pattern library
Easy to use
Durable and powerful machine
You’ll need to use the Cricut Design Space software to design and upload your cuts. It’s not the worst cutting software we’ve ever used, but it’s quite basic and can be buggy
The Sizzix Big Shot is something of a legend in these parts.
It’s a crank operated die cutter that can work with a variety of materials including fabric, papers and thin foils, and can either be used with dies to cut certain patterns and shapes, or with embossing folders to emboss certain patterns and shapes.
Note that you can’t emboss fabric very effectively with this machine, but die cutting works great.
The Big Shot is incredibly quick and easy to use — it’s perfect for beginners, kids and those short of time. It’s just a matter of sandwiching your fabric between the die cut pads and rolling it through the machine.
It works with a variety of dies from a bunch of brands so you’ve got plenty to choose from.
Moving back to manual, now we have a few specialist fabric cutting machines that aren’t to be used for any other materials.
This AccuQuilt GO cutter is much like the Big Shot in appearance, and it actually works the same too — using dies and cutting pads to create your cut. It’s handle operated and easy to use, and proves accurate with up to 6 layers of thin cotton at once.
One of the most annoying things about the AccuQuilt range of fabric cutters is that they are only compatible with the AccuQuilt dies — you can’t go loading up your Sizzix or Cricut ones instead.
They’re also reasonably expensive in comparison to the Big Shot, despite having more or less the same functionality.
If you’re looking for a specialized fabric die cutter, the AccuQuilt GO Big will be right up your alley.
This bad boy can handle dies up to 14 inches wide, and you can even use two 6 inch wide dies at the same time for maximum efficiency. It can cut up to 6 layers at once, too.
Unlike the smaller AccuQuilt cutter, this is powered electronically — guaranteeing a much smoother and stronger feed than the usual handle would provide.
While it’s expensive, the GO Big fabric cutter is undeniably the cutting machine of choice for serious quilters. This product also comes equipped with a die, cutting mat and 6 creative patterns so you can get started straight off the bat.
The largest maximum cut width in this list
Can handle up to 6 layers at once
Fast and efficient, producing minimal fabric waste
I’ve been a professional in the world of vinyl cutting for over 10 years now and specialize in educating others on how to use commercial vinyl plotters. If you’ve got a question on any machine with a servo motor, make sure you come straight to me! I’ve also been running a successful side hustle for the past few years selling my heat transfer designs on Etsy. Crafting and cutting are pretty much my world but I’m also obsessed with Harry Potter and my cat, Hagrid.