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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.
Enter the humble fabric cutter.
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 Best Fabric Cutting Machines
First things first, here’s a quick look at how our top 3 fabric cutters compare against each other:
|Type||Digital Craft Cutter||Manual Die Cutter||Manual Fabric Cutter|
|Needs Software?||Yes (included)||No||No|
|Max Cutting Width||12"||12"||10"|
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 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.
Here’s a quick look at it cutting fabric:
- 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
- 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
- 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
Which fabric cutter is your favorite?