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How to die cut fabric

Updated July 06, 2018

Cutting fabrics into shapes to use on clothing, quilts, or scrapbook pages used to be a tedious process involving craft knives or scissors and a pattern. With the increased availability of die-cutting machines and dies, though, the process of creating fabric shapes to use on craft projects has become faster and easier than ever before. You can purchase dies in all shapes, sizes, and themes, allowing you to create exactly the look you want. By using a die cut machine, you can be sure that when you cut multiple shapes, they will all be a uniform size and shape.

If you are planning to use your die-cut fabric on clothing, wash and dry to the fabric to shrink, if it is not already preshrunk.

Cut your fabric to size, depending on the size of the die you are using and die-cut machine you are using. For example, if you are using a Cricut Expression, your fabric can be as large as 12 by 12 inches. If you are using a Cuttlebug, trim the fabric to 5 by 7 inches.

Following the directions on the bottle of fabric stiffener, treat your fabric. Allow the fabric to dry completely. If you are using a fusible or adhesive-backed stiffener, follow the package directions to adhere it to your fabric. Your fabric needs to be as stiff as card stock to get the cleanest cut from the die-cut machine.

Position the treated fabric in the die-cut machine as you would a sheet of paper, according to the machine instructions. If you are using a patterned fabric, be sure the die is positioned over the section of pattern you wish to cut.

Operate your die-cut machine as you normally would for paper. Go slowly, or use your machine's slowest setting to avoid tearing the fabric.

Remove the die-cut image from the cutting surface. Use scissors to trim any stray threads, if necessary.

Tip

If you are using a Cricut machine, and wish to cut thicker fabrics such as felt, use its Deep Cut housing and blade to ensure a clean cut. Consider reserving Cricut blades just for cutting fabrics, as cutting fabrics will dull your blades faster than cutting paper. Simple die cuts, such as graphic shapes and plain fonts, work best when cutting fabric. When shopping for fabric, look in the quilting section for pre-cut pieces of fabric, such as quilting squares or fat quarters. Choosing smaller pieces of fabric can help you save money and reduce the amount of waste.

Warning

Stretch fabrics, such as jersey or knits, are not a good choice, as they stretch and bunch in the die-cut machine, making it harder to cut.

Things You'll Need

  • Die-cut machine (Cricut, Cuttlebug, Sizzix)
  • Die-cutting mat
  • Spacer blocks (if your machine requires them)
  • Dies
  • Fabric, such as cotton, chambray, felt, or linen
  • Fabric stiffener
  • Scissors
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About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.