Getting a little tired of repeat cutting patterns and making mistakes no matter how small they are? It can be tiring and a little frustrating to cut out pieces over and over again. This might lead you to look for an alternative. Here are the best fabric cutting machines on the market.
I will point out that some of these may be harder to get if you are in the UK or Europe compared to the USA. But with enough research, you will be able to get your hands on a decent machine to do what you need.
What Is A Fabric Cutting Machine?
A fabric cutting machine is a machine you can use to cut fabric. It can cut out shapes to use for applique and shapes for quilting.
These machines can be both manual die cutting machines and digital. There is a range of prices, variants and skill levels.
Why Should I Use a Fabric Cutting Machine?
If you have done plenty of sewing and crafts you will know that sometimes you need to have at least 3 pairs of scissors and endless amounts of other tools. Also if you are like me then over these many times of cutting the same pattern you will notice not two times have worked out the same.
I am forever trying to make sure I cut out fabric pieces neatly but it can often be a challenge. Having fabric cutting machines takes out that worry and can do that step for you.
The biggest bonus of using a fabric cutting machine is if you struggle to hold scissors because of health problems. Using a fabric cutting machine takes out a large step of the overall project process and enables you to work more efficiently.
What Can I Use a Fabric Cutting Machine For?
You can use fabric cutting machines for a number of things. You can mostly only use the machines on smaller projects such as garlands, patchwork, and homewares.
There are plenty of other things you can cut out using fabric cutting machines.
- Cutting out patterns for toys
- Cutting out a pattern for soft toys/bears
- Cutting Letters & Numbers
- Cutting out patterns of children’s clothes
- Cutting squares and shapes for quilting.
What Are The Types Of Fabric Cutting Machines?
There are 2 variants of fabric cutting machine, there is manual and electronic/digital.
These two types can solely depend on what you need the machine to do, your budget and how much you are going to use it.
Manual fabric cutting machines are just what you can expect, manual.
Manual machines are done by hand by the turn of control on the side. Usually fabric is placed between the die and the mat and fed through the machine. Cutting the fabric or paper as it goes.
Manual machines have many advantages to them. As they don’t require a power source they can be used anywhere at almost any time. They are safer to use as you aren’t directly handling the blade.
They are also extremely portable and easy to take with you on trips and from different rooms in the house. The manual fabric cutting machines also are said to give a better and more precise cut.
Digital machines are battery/mains plug powered machines that pretty much do the work for you. These machines work very differently as they control the movement, cutting, and blade movement.
There are no dies involved in a digital cutting machine and is solely done with a blade. Many of the digital cutting machines offer up preloaded designs you can cut out and use and have the ability to scan in your own drawing to cut.
These fabric cutting machines are beneficial to those who suffer from arthritis or other health problems which may affect joints and hand movement.
Digital machines aren’t always faster but are easier to use and have many more opportunities available.
What To Look For In A Fabric Cutting Machine?
Like any big purchase you want to make sure you are buying quality and exactly what you need/want. You don’t want to be spending the money and realising it won’t be used or isn’t fit for purpose.
Along with personal preferences such as why you want the machine, what you want it for and your own budget these are some of the things to look out for in a fabric cutting machine.
There is a choice of two different machines, Manual or digital ( or known as electronic). These are two very different styles of machines, with very different budget types.
The manual uses dies which may cost you more in the long run if you are wanting to cut many different patterns and pieces. These are layered with fabric in the middle of the mat and the die. This then gets fed through the machine and cuts the fabric.
The digital/electronic fabric cutting machine uses a blade and mat to cut the fabric. The fabric is laid onto the mat and fed into the machine.
Both machine styles offer the same results and accuracy. The electronic machines are higher in price but do offer more variety of designs and styles. The manual machine is a little more limited as dies are set and can be limiting to work with.
Size can be a big decider when thinking about buying a new machine. If you have a designated craft room with a fair amount of space this may not be a problem compared to someone who uses their dining table.
Even if you have space you wan to make sure you have space and power supply available.
Manual machines are easier to care for and put away after use. They are smaller and are easier to carry and move. They are easily portable meaning you can take them anywhere and are roughly the size of a toaster.
The digital electronic fabric cutting machines are larger, heavier and much less portable. They require electricity and power source so this may affect your arrangement in your room. The machines are slimmer and often reflect the size of the printers.
How Good Is It At Cutting Fabric?
To make sure you are getting a quality machine and quality finish to your projects you want a good quality cut from your machine. The fabric cutting machine needs to give you a clear precise cut.
Test out the machine and check reviews before buying. If you can get a machine that changes blades this is helpful as you can make sure your machine stays in the best condition for cutting.
Most machines manual or digital will come with accessories. You can compare the manual fabric cutting machines to the digital to see which gives you more scope and workability.
Accessories can be the highlight of the machine, knowing you will have the tools and equipment to get going is exciting. It can also be a relief that you don’t have to buy them separately or order them at a later date.
Price can ultimately be the deciding factor for such a big purchase. If you are working to a more limited or modest budget you can test out some of the lower end machines before progressing into the more high tech and expensive ones.
This also depends on what you are looking to achieve and create with your fabric cutting machine.
If you are wanting a machine that can cut multiple materials and have a more hands on experience with design you will be looking at a higher end machine which will cost a little more.
If you are looking for something quite small, simple and easy to use you will probably want a manual machine. You can also try out on a manual to see if it is something you will use often and get your money worth.
Versatility is a great thing to look out for in a fabric cutting machine. If you plan to use your machine for everything under the sun and more, versatility is key for you.
Some of the machines can cut more than just fabric and can work with paper, vinyl, and card. This is extremely handy if you are a crafter in many different areas.
The same goes for some of the manual models, you can use them for paper and card too. But often don’t have as many options as digital machines do.
Personally I would invest in a machine that can do multiple things that I want to do or try. Try to think about what you want to be able to create and how do you see yourself doing it. Without causing yourself too much stress…
If you aren’t very tech-savvy I would look into buying one of the more simpler and easier to use machines. If you like designing your own layouts, uploading your own designs etc a digital machine would be great for you.
Remember no matter what machine you buy you want to be able to get used to using it fairly quickly. I am not saying some of the techniques won’t take time but there is no point buying a machine that is 10,000 lightyears out of your range.
I personally can use a laptop, computer etc but not always sure on how to import images, download things etc. This is where my lovely other half comes in. But if you don’t know how to use a laptop or computer one of the more advanced ones might not be for you.
5 Best Fabric Cutting Machines
Here is a breakdown of the machines themselves including cutting size, machine size, materials it can cut and the range.
Tip: Work out what kind of projects you will use your machine with and what types of things you want to make.
That way you can look at the key features of the machines and decide which is best for you.
AccuQuilt Go Big 55500
The AccuQuilt is a perfect machine for those looking to cut for patchwork and quilting. With the width of cutting space 14 inches wide it can give big scope to what you can cut with it. This also doesn’t give you a limit on the length as such.
This machine is a die cutting machine so it is limited to shapes and designs it can cut. Though it does come with a wide variety of dies such as tote bag, flying geese and many more.
One of the bigger pros to this machine is that it is simple and easy to use with a simple interface and technology. I also really like that you can cut 2 6 inches wide dies at the same time, saving you so much time.
Sissix Big Shot
One of the most alluring features of the Sissix Big Shot is that it is quite easy to transport and move around. With measurements of 14 ¼ inches x 12 3/8 inches it makes for a compact fabric cutting machine.
The machine is highly capable of cutting a wide variety of materials from cardstock to leather including cotton, flannel, wool and more.
The Sissix big shot comes with one large mat and flower die, perfect for those who love to make fabric flowers. It is smaller in size compared to the others but if you plan to use this more for smaller patchwork, makes your own fabric patches and applique it is perfect.
Sissix Big Shot Pro
Similar to the Sissix Big Shot above this is a die cutting machine. It has a cutting width of 6 inches and overall is 14.2 x 12.4 x 6.6 inches which are fairly compact and light.
The biggest bonus to this machine is that it isn’t techy or need any fancy software to make it work. It is simple and straight forward to use which is great for those who don’t need anything too fancy.
The downside is that the cutting area is rather small which limits your cutting range. Perfect if you are looking for a machine to do smaller work and simple cuts but a let down if you want to cut larger than 6 inches wide.
Brother CM300 ScanNCut
The Brother CM300 ScanNCut is much more inline with the Cricut Maker. It is a electronic fabric cutting machine which is powered by plug and uses a screen to create your designs. This machine doesn’t need a laptop or PC and is all done of the screen connected.
You can plug in a device to transfer images, data and designs to cut out via USB (the cable isn’t provided).
The machine accommodates a mat of 30.5cm x 30.5cm and 30.5cm x 61cm cutting mat. Meaning you can cut a large selection of pieces, perfect for patchwork and applique.
This fabric cutting machine is much more suited to those wanting to use it for a range of materials. With the machine being able to cut paper, scrapbook paper, cardstock, poster board, fabric such as cotton, flannel, and denim along with plastic sheet and foam board.
Cricut Explore Air
I personally have a Cricut Maker and I love it. We originally bought it for vinyl transfer but loved how many other materials we could cut with it, including paper, card, fabric and poster board.
You cand download the software right to your mac or laptop and get going right away. You can create designs and layouts while on the go and cut them once you get back. Some of the handy features are the changeable blades so you can keep the blade sharp.
Another feature I love is how easy it is to use, you can just follow instructions on your screen through the app and never go wrong. The machine itself is well made and sturdy and each button or dial is clear and easy to understand.
The largest size you can cut is 12 inches by 24 inches, perfect for anyone looking to make bigger projects or for large patches of quilting.
That is everything on our best fabric cutting machines. If there is anything you need to know more of or have any questions let me know in the comments. If you own one of these machines or a similar model I would love to know how you use it.