Wednesday, 20 May 2015

How To Clean And Care For A Self-Healing Cutting Mat

Does your cutting mat have lint from fabric stuck in it?  I've been rotary cutting batting making large sheets from my scraps and afterwards it looked like this.

If you're interested in learning how to make full batting sheets from your scraps you can click through on this image to my previous tute.

I was about to clean the mess off the mat and it occurred to me that you might like to see how I do it.

Meet your cutting mat's new best friend - a simple rubber (or eraser for my American readers!).

I keep the side of the rubber/eraser flat on the cutting mat, not that this matters it just means I'm working a larger area at any one time and I move it over the surface of the mat applying a small amount of pressure.

The attached fluff starts to collect as I work.

And finally I'm left with a collected piece of fluff and a pile of particles from the rubber/eraser which I wipe away.

Less than two minutes from starting my mat looks like new again.

Tips In Caring For Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat:

Your mat will warp easily:
don't roll for a prolonged period of time - the time it takes to get it home from the shop when you buy it should be okay as long as you don't take the slow train home! - but once your mat's been used don't do it as it will open up lines where you've cut on it and can cause the mat to crack;
don't stand it on it's edge - lie it flat, on your cutting table or under a sofa or bed;
don't iron or apply heat - don't put hot food or drinks on your mat;
don't leave in direct sunlight or against a radiator or other heat source;
don't leave it in a car on a sunny day.

Did you know your cutting mat needs moisture and this will make cutting easier and your rotary cutting blades won't dull as quickly.  To moisturise your mat now and again place it in a bath of cool water with approx 1/4 cup of white vinegar to every gallon of water.  Let it soak for about 20 minutes.  Using a soft mushroom scrubbing brush and a splash of gentle liquid soap you can clean the surface at the same time.  Rinse and air or towel dry (no heat or direct sunlight!).  If your mat smells this should really help.

Avoid repeated cutting lines:
Try to cut regular cuts on different sections of the mat, regular use of one measured line will create grooves and eventually slice through your mat causing problems when cutting and blunting your rotary cutting blade (a regular occurence working in a quilt store particularly on the quarter yard and yard lines!!!)

When all else fails:
If a section of your mat fails don't throw your mat out instead use heavy scissors (not your fabric scissors!) to cut the mat into templates and smaller sections, great for retreats and travelling.

Do you have any more tips in caring for cutting mats?  Share them with us in the comments :D

Clicking on a image will take you to a new page of crafty goodness :)

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