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Our main focus has always been on vinyl and paper crafts, but recently we’ve been moving into the world of fabric.
However, the best fabric cutting machines aren’t necessarily also the best vinyl cutting machines: there can actually be a world of difference between the two.
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. There’s also a handy buyer’s guide down below too, so you’ll know what to look out for on your fabric shopping trip!
Let’s get into it…
- 1 Why Use a Fabric Cutter?
- 2 Manual or Digital Fabric Cutting Machines?
- 3 The 8 Best Fabric Cutting Machines
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:
- Clothes making
- Sewing 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 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 8 Best Fabric Cutting Machines
Here goes: the 8 best machines for cutting fabric and felt…
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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…
- 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
- 12″ maximum cut width
The Silhouette Cameo 3 is one of the most popular craft cutters on the market right now, and one of the reasons is because it’s so damn good at cutting fabric.
While its maximum cut width is only 12 inches, its maximum length is a whopping 10 feet — ideal for anyone looking to cut names or larger images.
It also has a 2mm clearance, which means it can cut an array of thicker than normal materials too. Great news for fabric fans!
The brilliant AutoBlade function will automatically select the correct pressure and blade position for your fabric, leaving you to simply ensure that you stick your fabric as neatly as possible to the cutting mat for maximum precision. Some people also recommend treating your fabric beforehand, to ensure that intricate cuts are accurate.
The Cameo 3 also comes with Silhouette Studio software, which means you can cut any image that you can upload, design or buy on their store on to your fabric. Yay for creative freedom!
- Precise and accurate fabric cutting
- Large cut size for big jobs
- Lots of freedom to cut whatever design you choose
- Can cut thicker fabrics well, as well as over 100 different materials
- Automatic settings for fabric and other common materials
- Comes with accompanying software for designing
- Reasonably priced considering its capabilities
- Wireless capability
- You may need to treat your fabric beforehand for intricate cuts
- A steeper learning curve than the manual fabric die cutters
- 12″ maximum cut width
Rivalling the Cameo 3 as the best fabric cutting machine is the Explore Air 2 from Cricut.
This pocket rocket boasts German precision blades, automatic settings and a fantastic Fast Mode for supreme cutting skills.
It can cut over 100 different materials, including an array of fabrics. Just like the Cameo, it benefits from automatic settings thanks to its SmartSet dial on the front of the machine.
For extra precision, we recommend you purchase the Deep Cut Blade separately. This will ensure that your fabric cuts are as accurate as possible.
Just like with the Cameo 3, you also need to ensure that your fabric is truly stuck on to the cutting mat and even pre-treated for the most accurate intricate cuts.
The Explore Air 2 comes with free access to Cricut Design Space software, which allows you to create and upload your own designs to cut into your fabric. You can also buy images from the Image Library and use Cricut’s amazing cartridges for inspiration too.
- The most accurate and precise fabric cutting
- Automatic settings for fabric and 80 0ther materials
- Very quick and efficient
- Lots of creative freedom in fabric cutting design
- Wireless cutting available
- Phone and tablet app for designing
- Steeper learning curve than the manual fabric die cutter machines
- Smaller maximum cut size than the Cameo 3
- 11.7″ maximum cut width
The Brother ScanNCut 2 is another favorite in the world of digital fabric cutting machines, thanks to its amazing premium German carbide blades — enabling fabric cuts as precise as the Cricut Explore Air 2 above.
No wonder it’s so popular with quilters, sewers and clothes makers!
Just like the Silhouette and Cricut cutters, the Brother fabric cutter is wireless enabled, but is also blessed with a large LCD screen if you prefer to keep your operations to the machine itself.
It also comes with access to the ScanNCutCanvas software which allows you to create and upload your own designs. It’s worth noting that the software isn’t quite as user-friendly as Cricut Design Space or Silhouette Studio, although most users should be able to get their heads around it quickly.
The ScanNCut2 also has a total of 631 built-in designs and 7 fonts, including 100 quilt designs. Some of these are a little cheesy, but you should be able to find something here that works for you.
- Built-in 300 DPI scanner can scan designs and automatically create cut lines
- Good precision fabric cutting
- LCD screen is intuitive and easy to use
- Wireless capability
- Included software for your own designs and uploads
- Smaller cut size than the Cameo 3
- Not as accurate fabric cutting as the Explore Air 2
- 10″ maximum cut width
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.
- 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
- Comparatively quite expensive
- Can only use AccuQuilt dies
- 14″ maximum cut width
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.
Here’s a look at the GO Big in action:
- 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
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.
- 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