Our main focus has always been on vinyl and paper crafts, but recently we’ve been moving into the world of fabric.
Enter the humble fabric cutter.
The best fabric cutting machines aren’t necessarily the same choices as the best vinyl cutting machines: there can actually be a world of difference between the two.
Likewise, some quilters and crafters stick to using rotary cutters for working with fabric, but while we love working with our hands, there are some enormous benefits to investing in a digital fabric cutter.
We’ve compiled what we think are the crème de la crème of fabric cutters so you can see which machine is the best fit for your needs.
The brand you are probably most familiar with is AccuQuilt. The Omaha company is known for its mix of specialist fabric die cutters, including the bestselling Ready. Set. Go! Fabric Cutting System. AccuQuilt machines are perfect for beginners looking to get started with a targeted set of fabric cutting tools and patterns. Another popular option for aspiring quilters is the Sizzix Big Shot. This cult-classic die cutting and embossing machine is available in both manually operated or electric powered models.
As you can probably guess, we are also huge advocates of the Cricut Maker 3 — our cutter of choice for most projects here on VCM, including those that involve fabrics and garments.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best fabric cutter for your needs. Below we analyse each of the options in detail and show you there strengths and weaknesses of each machine.
Let’s get into it…
- Why Use a Fabric Cutter?
- Manual or Digital Fabric Cutting Machines?
- What Are The Best Fabric Cutting Machines?
- Fabric Die Cutting Q&A
Why Use a Fabric Cutter?
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 Machines
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 Machines
Digital craft cutters can do a whole lot more than just cut fabric — but are they actually good machines for cutting fabric?
In the case of the best ones – yes!
- 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 manual 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!
What Are The Best Fabric Cutting Machines?
So what are the best fabric die cut machines that should be on your radar?
Here goes: our pick of the 6 best machines for cutting fabric and felt…
We’ll start with the machine that’s sitting right next to us:
Cricut Maker 3
- We say: An excellent all-round digital cutter that is fully equipped to tackle fabrics and garments.
- 13″ max cutting width
The Cricut Maker 3 was released in 2019 and is the successor to the original Maker, a popular machine that opened up a whole new world of craft cutting projects — including the ability to work with fabrics thick and small.
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. The Maker 3 can tackle over 300(!) materials in total.
This is thanks to the brand new Rotary Blade that can glide and roll in any direction to cut through fabric like butter, with no backing required. Add to that the impressive 4kg of force that the machine is packing, and you’re looking at a very powerful fabric cutter indeed.
Some people ask: “Why buy an electronic fabric cutter when I could just buy a rotary cutter for a fraction of the cost?”
Well, the Cricut Maker 3 is fully digital so it will handle the cuts precisely and without human error.
And thanks to the Maker 3’s new Smart Materials compatibility, you can cut fabrics up to 13 inches wide and 12 feet long. This is a massive improvement on the original Maker’s capabilities.
- The best Cricut fabric cutter on the market by far
- 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
- Machine is reasonably expensive
Sizzix Big Shot
- We say: Family friendly fabric die cutter that is fantastic for small decorative projects
- 6″ maximum cutting width
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. It makes a wonderful fabric letter cutting machine.
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.
Is it an industrial or commercial fabric cutter? Umm, look at it. Absolutely not!
Is it still a lot of fun for fabric craft projects? Yes!
- Cuts fabric well
- Can cut multiple layers
- Low price
- Small, compact and portable machine
- Easy to use
- You’re limited by the dies you have available
- Maximum cutting width is only 6 inches
Sizzix Big Shot Pro
- We say: It’s the Sizzix Big Shot on steroids. A very popular fabric cutting machine.
- 12″ maximum cutting width
As the name suggests, the Big Shot Pro is exactly that: a pro version of Sizzix’s cult classic Big Shot.
It’s major benefit over the smaller model is that it can create die cuts up to 12 inches wide — rivalling many of the digital machines.
Plus although it’s still manually operated by the hand crank, the superior body construction ensures a much smoother and stronger feed — which means more accurate fabric cutting.
But, of course, there’s a price to pay for that… it’s considerably more expensive.
While the original Sizzix Big Shot is known for being something of a lightweight pocket-rocket, the Big Shot Pro looks and feels seriously chunky. At over 40 lbs, you don’t want to be moving this machine from room to room!
- Accurate and precise fabric cutting
- Can cut multiple layers
- Large maximum cut size
- Easy to use
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Heavy (over 40 lbs!)
- Still limited by the dies you have on hand
AccuQuilt Ready. Set. GO! Fabric Cutting System
- We say: An excellent ‘starter set’ for anybody wanting to cut quilts or other fabric patterns.
- 10″ maximum cut width
Next we have a few specialist fabric cutting machines that aren’t to be used for any other materials. They are considered specialist quilting cutters.
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.
The AccuQuilt is known as a true game-changer for quilting projects, but it’s not without its flaws.
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.
With that said, AccuQuilt offers the GO Cutter as part of their flagship Ready. Set. GO! Fabric Cutting System. By buying the machine and the most popular supplies together, you can make some healthy savings — while grabbing some excellent quilting patterns to get you started.
- Produces mostly precise fabric cuts
- Can handle up to 6 layers at once
- Lightweight and portable (can be folded up)
- Die included with purchase
- Included cutting mats are thick and durable (remember to keep them clean for optimal cuts)
- Comparatively quite expensive
- Can only use AccuQuilt dies
AccuQuilt GO Big
- We say: A premium but high-performance quilt cutting machine. Fast and highly accurate.
- 14″ maximum cut width
If you’re looking for a specialized quilting die cutter that works with larger cuts, 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.
If you expect to be using the machine for an extended period of time, your hands and wrists will thank you for upgrading to this modern electric fabric cutter!
- The largest maximum cut width in this list
- Can handle up to 6 layers at once
- Electronically powered
- Fast and efficient, producing minimal fabric waste
- Folds up and has handle for instant portability
- Can only work with AccuQuilt dies
Reliable 1500FR Cloth Cutting Machine
- We say: If you’re good with your hands already, this powerful blade is the perfect fabric cutting companion.
If you’re not bothered about design software or using dies to cut your fabric, and simply want something that cuts, you can’t go far wrong with this cloth cutting machine from Reliable.
What does it do? It cuts fabric up to 1 inch thick with its ultra-sharp 4-inch round blade. It’s powered by an electric motor so gets the job done quickly and efficiently.
This might suit you if you’re a confident designer who doesn’t require the use of software or dies to design your cuts and just wants something that cuts fabric well.
- 4-inch round blade for precise cutting
- Electric powered motor for efficiency
- Can cut multiple layers up to 1 inch thick
- Built-in sharpening mechanism
- Lightweight at 8.2 lbs
- No design software included
- No automatic settings
- Just a fabric cutter: no more, no less
Fabric Die Cutting Q&A
New to fabric die cut machines? We’ve answered several of your frequently asked questions below:
What is the best Cricut fabric cutter?
Cricut currently sells three machines that are capable of working with fabrics — the Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Joy. From these choices, the Cricut Maker 3 is the best all-round fabric cutter. It can work with over 300 different materials and boasts the most cutting force of any Cricut machine.
Should I invest in a fabric laser cutting machine?
Yes – if you have thousands of dollars to spare!
Tailors, dressmakers, seamstresses, upholsterers, and others in the textile industry can all use a laser cutter to make quick, precise cuts to their fabrics — at scale. Laser cutting is much faster and more accurate than traditional cutting methods, so it can save a lot of time and effort in the long run.
However, a laser fabric cutter is expensive to buy and difficult to master. We only recommend them to commercial users.
Do I need a cutting table for fabric?
No, you don’t need a cutting table for fabric. A cutting table is simply a convenient way to keep your fabrics organized and tidy while you’re working on them. However, if you don’t have a lot of space in your craft room, or if you prefer to cut your fabric on the floor, that’s perfectly fine too.
Which cutting machine is best for quilting?
The AccuQuilt GO! Series is our favorite dedicated quilt cutter, but that’s all it does. If you are planning to work a variety of materials (or non-quilt projects), the Cricut Maker 3 represents better value for money.
Can I just use a rotary cutter?
Yes, you can! Some of the most talented designers work by hand with rotary cutters. The benefit of using a digital or manual die cutter is that they reduce the likelihood of human error. These machines are much more beginner-friendly for cutting fabrics.
What are the best manual tools for cutting fabric?
Some of the most popular options include scissors, rotary cutters, and pinking shears.
Which of our highlighted fabric cutters is your favorite?
Still can’t decide which cutter is right for you? Be sure to check out the rest of our detailed machine comparisons.