Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: January 31, 2021
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
It can be a difficult task to find the best fabric cutting machine for your projects, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for. There are endless different types on the market, all with varying features and capabilities. To help you make the most informed decision possible, we’ve done much of the work for you, looking into the benefits and flaws each model has to offer.
When picking the six products for our reviews, we looked for a few key features. The first thing we looked at is whether the machine is manual or electric. Electric ones are great for large and frequent works, while more budget-friendly manual machines are suitable for small, occasional projects. Whether it uses dies or blades is also important since these can also alter the machine’s capabilities. For instance, bladed machines are often PC compatible, like the Cricut Maker, our Editor’s Choice, which allows for more complicated designs. The size of the unit is also something we considered since not everyone has the same amount of space to work with. If you’re in the market for the best fabric cutting machine but still aren’t sure what to look for, keep reading.
The Cricut Maker is, in our opinion, the best cutting machine for not only fabric but also iron-ons, vinyl, paper, and so many more materials. In fact, this unit can be used to cut over 300 different materials, so you can use it for any of the projects you can come up with.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this unit gives you professional cuts every time. It is easy to use, with several accessories included to get you started. First, you get a rotary blade, which can be used with any type of fabric without the use of a backer. The fine-point blade is used for those more delicate designs.
There are also two cutting mats included, the FabricGrip machine mat and the LightGrip machine mat that can be swapped out as needed, depending on the materials you’re working with. A fine point black pen lets you write messages or add some stylish pictures on any of your creations.
There are also several extra accessories that you can purchase separately to expand the fabric cutting machine’s capabilities. This includes a knife blade, as well as tools for engraving, scoring, debossing, or several other decorative designs.
Though this unit can’t be used on its own, you can link it to a smartphone, tablet, or computer to create your designs. Then you can access the Design Space software and choose from a variety of patterns or make up your own. There is even a USB port to charge your device as you work.
The Brother CM350E is an electronic fabric cutting machine that includes several modern features to make it easy to create your favorite craft projects. This unit can be used on its own or you can hook it up to a mobile device or a computer as you see fit.
One original feature that this unit has that is missing from the others in our reviews is the touchscreen LCD display. This touchscreen allows you to choose one of the 631 built-in designs that are included with the fabric cutting machine. You can also use any of the editing tools to customize the designs as needed.
Those built-in designs include 100 quilt designs and 7 lettering fonts that you can use to create words and phrases. You can also upload your own SVG design files, plus there are more free patterns available from the CanvasWorkspace.
Another handy feature is the built-in scanner, which lets you scan your drawings and designs, which can then be converted into a unique cut file. This allows you to cut printed stickers and other patterns without counting blocks or doing any extra formatting.
Also included are a standard blade and holder, touch pen, black and red pens with a holder, a spatula, and an accessory pouch to keep everything together and organized. The 12 x 12-inch standard tack mat may lose its stickiness quickly but a spray adhesive can remedy this.
The Sizzix Big Shot is a great manual fabric cutting machine for quilting and fashion, plus it works with a wide variety of other materials for all of your favorite craft projects, like scrapbook pages, invitations, and home décor.
This model comes with one pair of cutting pads, a standard platform, and a thin die adapter to get you started with your various craft projects. It also works with a wide variety of other accessories from Sizzix, including all of the 6-inch wide plastic-backed dies and the embossing tools to expand the machine’s capabilities.
The machine itself is stylish, with a white and gray color scheme that works well with the rest of your crafting area and supplies. It has a large handle on top to carry it wherever you need it, plus it is lightweight for easy travel if you want to take your crafting on the road.
As well as looking good, the Sizzix Big Shot is also built well. It includes solid core steel rollers in a unibody cast roller housing. The gears are solid steel as well, with a durable ABS plastic exterior that can handle anything you throw at it.
As well as weighing only 7.5 pounds, this unit is relatively compact. It also has a great low price for those on a budget. The plates may warp over time if not used properly, so be sure to read the instructions carefully.
If you’re looking for a compact, lightweight fabric cutting machine, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 is a great option. This unit is small and weighs less than 4 pounds, making it more portable than some other models. It is also easy to set up and comes with some handy features.
Of course, no machine is perfect. This model comes with a manual that tells you what the machine can do but doesn’t give you any instructions on how to use it. Thankfully, several online tutorials can help get you started.
Once you’ve figured out the ins and outs of the machine, you’ll be able to use it for a wide variety of materials, including fabric, vinyl, paper, cardstock, and so much more.
The Portrait 2 includes a Bluetooth adapter to sync with your Bluetooth device. You can also plug it into your PC or Mac using the USB cable provided. These will allow you to use the Silhouette Studio software that is also included with the electronic fabric cutting machine for free, giving you dozens of designs to try out, as well as the ability to create your own.
You can use the Autoblade function, which automatically adjusts the features to match your design. Other features include the 8-inch cutting mat, the 2mm clearance for compatibility with a deep-cut blade, and the capability to register and cut all of the printed materials you put through the machine.
If you prefer to cut your fabric by hand, the Hercules AS100-K may be the best electric fabric cutting machine for you. This handheld model works like a pair of shears, though it cuts faster and cleaner every time. It is lightweight, so you won’t strain yourself, even if you’re cutting enough fabric for a large quilt.
This electric model has a powerful AC motor that is double-insulated to prevent overheating, even if you’re using it continuously throughout the day. A long 10-foot cord makes it easy to work with, even if there isn’t an outlet right next to your workspace.
There are also a variety of great features included with this handy unit. An adjustable knife-guard on the front protects you while giving you the room needed for the fabric you’re working with, even if you’re cutting multiple layers at once.
There is an aluminum footplate on the bottom, which is thin enough to give you the precise movements needed for smooth, accurate cuts. This piece is removable, so you can use the cutter off the table when needed. A built-in sharpening stone keeps the blade sharp to maintain the blade’s performance and increase its lifespan.
Though you can use this fabric cutting machine with a variety of materials, this unit works best with lighter fabrics. Trying to do heavy-duty work may result in materials stuck beneath the blade, so stick with thinner fabrics.
Those who have issues with their hands, arms, or shoulders may not be able to use a manual model. The AccuQuilt GO! Big is an electronic model, removing the need for a hand crank to push the fabric through the machine. All you have to do is lay out your dies, fabric, and mat, then push the button to start the cutting machine, which does the rest of the work for you.
Though this unit is pricey, the ease of use and great features may make it worth the price. The unit is large, cutting two 6-inch dies at the same time, so you can get through your fabric quickly. It can also cut up to six layers of fabric at once, depending on the thickness of the material. The dies are all two-tone, so you know exactly where the blades are.
This unit includes a Go! Flying Geese die to get you started. It is also compatible with all the other GO! Dies, even the large 14 x 16-inch sizes. A pattern book is also included with 5 Flying Geese patterns to try out. The user manual takes you through the entire machine to be sure you are using it properly.
Another feature that makes this one of the best die cutting machine models for fabric is the folding feature and handy carry handle. This makes the unit much more portable and storable when you’re not using it.
What we liked:
Easy to use
Up to 6 layers at a time
Can fit 2 mats at once
Two-tone foam dies
What could be better:
You may need more dies to buy for your quilting
Things to Consider
Crafters know the hassle of using a pair of cutting shears. They are hard to use, don’t always make clean lines, and can only cut through one layer of material at a time. That’s why many crafters are choosing to buy the best fabric cutting machine to make cutting up their patterns much easier. But what to look for while choosing? In this section, you’ll find the answer.
What a fabric cutting machine is capable of?
Using a pair of scissors to cut your fabric never gives you the precise cuts you’re looking for, no matter how careful you are. The beauty of using the best cutting machine for fabric is that they can give you the same type of cut, only much cleaner. These machines also work fast, cutting multiple pieces in the time it would take you to cut one manually.
Fabric cutters are easy to use, so they are great for beginners who are just starting in the world of crafting. Professionals will also prefer these machines since they speed up the process, cutting clean, precise pieces for all of their patterns.
These models can cut a variety of shapes and designs to create a variety of projects. They cut multiple fabric pieces at a time for fast quilting. Many of the models can also cut more intricate patterns for scrapbooking, decorative artwork, home décor pieces, decals, stickers, or even iron-ons for t-shirts. This gives you the freedom to create whatever you like using one handy machine.
Features to consider when choosing a fabric cutting machine
If you’re looking for the best fabric cutting machine but still aren’t sure which one is right for you, check out the following sections. These cover all of the features these models have to offer.
Manual or electronic
There are two main types of fabric cutting machines: manual and electronic models. Manual models, like the Sizzix Big Shot, need some of your strength to work. In most cases, the fabric you’re cutting is placed between the mat and the die. Once they are ready to go, you place them next to the roller and turn the handle to run the pieces through the fabric cutting machine. The die has cutters that cut the fabric as it is rolled through the machine.
These models give you precise cuts and are usually lightweight and portable. They also don’t have any electronic parts inside, so they tend to last longer than other types. This also means that they cost a little less, plus they can be used anywhere since they need no power source.
Electronic fabric cutting machines work differently. Though some use dies, the majority of them use blades that cut the lines and curves into the fabric as it passes through the machine. The patterns come from digital designs, some of which are programmed into the unit, like the ones in the built-in touchscreen on the Brother CM350E. Many models link to a PC or a device to upload the patterns that you want to cut instead, with downloadable software you can access as needed.
Electronic models are faster than the manual ones in some cases, depending on how complex the project is that you’re working on. They are also easier to use since there are no handles, so they are a good option for those with arthritis or other medical issues.
How it cuts
As we mentioned above, some models use dies to cut the fabric, while others have blades for this process. The dies are usually foam pieces with shapes or designs on them that include some type of cutter. The fabric is placed between the die and a mat and put through the machine. As it is squeezed by the rollers, the die cuts the fabric, so you only need to lift the fabric off, separating the cut pieces from the scraps. Most of the models in our reviews include at least one die, with several more available to purchase separately if you want to expand the capabilities of the machine.
Other machines use blades to replace the dies, which means you don’t need to mess around with extra pieces. They are a lot more versatile since most of their designs come from software, giving you almost unlimited designs to work with. Many of them also allow you to input your own designs, so you can create whatever you like and the blades do the rest. The blades also allow you to work with a wider variety of materials, so you can expand the types of projects you want to try out.
Cutting mat dimensions
The dimensions of the cutting mat are important because they tell you how large of a design you can work with. The more space you have, the more room you have to create the designs you want. For instance, the Sizzix Big Shot has a cutting area of only 6 inches wide, so your designs need to fit into this space. The Cricut Maker is 12 inches, so it can cut pieces twice that size.
If it’s PC/smartphone/tablet compatible
Several of the best fabric cutting machines in our reviews are compatible with a PC, smartphone, and tablet. The Silhouette America Portrait 2 is one of those models, using both Bluetooth and a USB port to connect to these pieces as needed. Units with this capability allow you to use the electronic device you’re linking it to for the designs. They can either be imported from your personal files if you like to create your own or they allow you to use the included software to browse the designs offered by the company that makes the machine you’re using.
There is a downside to using this type of machine. Many of them can only be used with this type of software, so you can’t use them for any designs that aren’t found on your computer or device. They also don’t store the designs in most cases unless they have some sort of built-in system, like the one on the Brother CM350E. This unit does have a touchscreen system that stores many of the designs but this isn’t always the case, so be sure to check if the unit you’re considering has stand-alone capabilities or if it must be used with the software online to create the designs you want.
Another feature that you may want to consider before purchasing the best cutting machine for fabric is the unit’s dimensions. The bigger it is, the more space it’s going to take up in your crafting area. If you have room for this purpose, with a large table or desk that you’re going to be working at, you may have plenty of space to fit a larger machine without sacrificing too much of your workspace.
Of course, not everyone has unlimited space for their crafting projects. If you don’t have much space to work with or are using a table that is a bit too small for a huge machine, try out a smaller one, like the AccuQuilt GO! Big. Not only does this unit have a more compact size, but it is also foldable, so it is easy to store away when you’re finished cutting the pieces you need for your crafting projects.
You can also try out a handheld fabric cutter to save even more space. These don’t have all of the special features and take a bit more work on your part to get the cuts made but they are also very small, so you can put them in a drawer or on a shelf out of the way when you’re not using them.
The weight of the fabric cutting machine is important more for those who need to move the unit around from space to space. This is especially true for those who have limited space and are doing their crafting on a kitchen table or a desk since you may not be able to leave your fabric cutting machine there for long. The more you have to move the machine, the lighter you’re going to want it to be to make this easier on your muscles and joints.
Luckily, many of the models on the market today are quite light, some of which are less than 10 pounds. This makes it easy to move them around as needed, from your workspace to a storage space. Some models are much heavier, though, so these models may be left in a dedicated area. The AccuQuilt GO! Big is one of these heavy models, weighing about 23 pounds. Even though this model folds and is featured as a portable model, it is a bit too heavy to transport from place to place very often.
The warranty is one of the most important pieces of information that you should look for when purchasing any product, including a new fabric cutting machine. This will tell you what type of coverage you have and how long you’re covered for. If the machine you’ve purchased has any issues with how it runs or if anything is missing from the package, the warranty will ensure that you don’t have to pay for any repairs or replacements for issues you aren’t responsible for.
Almost every one of the fabric cutting machines in our reviews has a 1-year limited warranty, which means that you are covered for a full year after you purchase the machine. What’s covered by the warranty are issues in the parts or the workmanship, so if it is built improperly or the parts are faulty, the manufacturer will repair or replace them as needed.
The exception is the Hercules AS100-K, which only comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means that you only have a month to try out the machine to be sure it is working properly. If it has any issues that show up later than that, you’re going to be on the hook for the repairs needed to get it working again or a brand new model.
Some people have a great deal of money to spend on their crafting supplies while others need to stick within a budget when purchasing the tools and materials for their favorite projects. Luckily, the best fabric cutting machines come with a variety of prices, so you still get a decent model without spending a fortune.
The manual models are cheaper to buy, mainly because they don’t have any pricey electronics built into them for storing designs and patterns. They do require a bit more work on your part since you need to turn the handle to put the dies and mats through the machine but this may be a good trade-off for those who don’t want to spend a fortune while still getting a great machine.
The electronic models are more expensive but they also add a great deal of convenience. They either store the designs in an in-built computer or touchscreen or allow you to link up to a device or computer. Then you just choose the design, set up the materials and the mat, and push a button. The machine does the rest. Some of these models are cheaper than others, costing between $300 and $400. Others, like the AccuQuilt GO! Big, are more expensive, costing about double those prices.
The size of the unit can also be a factor when determining the price. The larger units will cost more than a smaller one will. They are a bit more versatile, allowing you to cut larger designs as well as the smaller ones that you could cut with a smaller unit. The more expensive machines may also have a few extras, like foldable design, carry handles, a few extra accessories, pattern books, and more. So, be sure to look at what’s included with the unit before deciding if the price is a fair one.
Though the features that we discussed above are the main ones you’ll want to focus on when purchasing a new model, there are a few extras that turn a good machine into the best fabric cutting machine for quilting, scrapbooking, home décor, or any of your other favorite crafting projects.
Though the basic tools included with the models include at least one knife and a holder for the bladed models, one or two dies with the die-cut models, a cutting mat, and the machine itself, some models do include a few extra accessories. This can include pens and holders for adding some custom designs, extra blades, and some fun patterns for creating some new designs and crafts. A built-in sharpener on handheld models is also handy to keep your cutting blade sharp for clean cuts every time.
If you’ve bought yourself a die-cutting machine, you may also want to look at what type of dies and mats it’s compatible with. Some machines can only be used with the ones that are made by their particular brand, so you need to buy them to expand the designs you can do with that machine. Though you know they’ll fit, some brands charge more for their accessories than others, so you may be forced to buy more expensive dies and mats this way. Other brands are more versatile, so you can use a variety of die and mat brands with the unit. This way, you can shop around to find the cheapest ones while still getting the designs you want.
Something else you may want to consider before spending your money on one of these machines is the type of materials it can work with. Thin fabrics and paper are fine but you may want to expand the types of projects you can do, so your machine needs to be able to expand with you. Many of the machines available can be used to cut a wide variety of materials, including denim, card stock, vinyl, cardboard, and much more.
This also means the machine needs to have the clearance needed to cut some of these thicker pieces of material. The more room there is, the thicker the fabric you can use. Many of them also allow you to cut more layers at once, so you can cut a few pieces at a time, speeding up the cutting process. This allows you to complete your projects much quicker, so you can move onto the next piece on your crafting list.
Fabric cutting machines allow you to do a wide variety of projects. These include quilts, decals, stickers, home décor, greeting cards, jewelry, t-shirts, appliques, signs, scrapbooks, and so much more. You can also use a wide variety of materials with them to customize your projects as you see fit.
Yes, die cutting machines can be used with all types of materials, including paper, cardboard, and fabric. You do need to consider the width of the materials you’re using to be sure it is below the maximum specifications of the machine. You also need to check out the mat included since some materials need a tackier surface to hold them in place than others as they are being cut.
To hold the fabric in place as it’s being cut, many models include a tacky mat. This sticky surface holds the fabric or other materials firmly in place as it is rolled through the machine. Some materials need a stickier surface than others, so having a few different types of mats may be necessary if you’re using a variety of materials for your crafts.
The best cutting machine is a handy tool for anyone who loves crafts. Though there are a variety of machines to choose from, we have a few favorites from our reviews.
Our top choice is the Cricut Maker. This electronic model has a large cutting mat and comes with rotary and fine-point blades, as well as a fine-point pen. It works with both a PC and devices, has a USB charge port, makes professional-quality cuts, and can be used with over 300 materials.
The Brother CM350E is an electronic model with a touchscreen that has 631 built-in designs and editing tools, plus it is PC and device compatible. It comes with several accessories, including a standard blade and holder, red and black pens with a holder, a 12 x 12 cutting mat, a spatula, and an accessory pouch.
The Sizzix Big Shot manual fabric cutter includes a pair of dies, a standard platform, and a thin die adapter. This model is built well, with steel rollers and gears and ABS plastic for the exterior. It is also lightweight with a large handle for easy transport when needed.