Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cutting mats: in other colours!


I wondered this week about why cutting mats are always green. Perhaps manufacturers initially conducted visibility studies and their results determined that nine out of ten cutting mats, for the rest of time, should be made in Oppressive Green. However, personally I'd be willing to live with the struggle to see my fabrics/cutting lines/fingers for a variety of colours to choose from. Generally, when I take my sewing tools from a drawer, I feel warmth, fondness and familiarity, but I realised recently that when I take a cutting mats out I feel slightly heavy-hearted - their dour, singular colouring oppressing my enthusiastic sewing soul. I should say re: the photo above, I've actually unwittingly chosen the one photo from my entire archives where the cutting mat goes amazingly with the fabric.


So, I took it upon myself to do some research this evening, in case you're left feeling a little damp-spirited at the sight of the standard issue cutting mats.



Annie, from the Village Haberdashery, volunteered that she has some limited edition Olfa mats in purple at her shop in London and she loaded them onto her site for us to see. You can snaffle one up here!


I found this mat at Minerva. It's still green, but it's a long way from being Oppressive Green. It's made by Clover, which is a brand that I adore. Everything they make seems to be so perfectly designed (apart from the rotary cutter which you can see in the photo at the top of this post - that's the only one of their products that I've ever disliked). This mat comes in three sizes.

Next is this double-sided mat made by Fiskars (you may be most familiar with them for their orange-handled scissors). I'm imagining this probably looks much better in real life than these images suggest, as I think I've spotted this mat in one of Laurie Wisbrun's photos looking really quite lovely. I like that this mat offers a choice of colour each time you use it. It's available from John Lewis in two sizes.


The next mat I found is a beautiful pink one. It comes in one relatively small size, approximately 12in x 8in. You can find it here for an impressive £4.99


Below is a very small circular mat (picture is my own). It's meant to rotate for easy cutting, but I don't find it much quicker, as it requires too much pressure to move it, so I just use it as a regular cutting mat. However, it's a small mat that's perfect for cutting on the move, on the sofa or, erm, in bed late at night (yes, really), because it has such a solid base that you don't need to place it on a hard surface to use it, so I'm quite delighted by it, despite not using it as intended. Find one here


The next mat is made by Gingher. Sigh. So lovely. This is one of my favourites. Unfortunately, you'd currently need to import it through Amazon UK, and ask for it to be sent over from the States. 


Finally, possibly saving the best for last, aren't these pastel coloured mats gorgeous.


They're made by a Korean company called Iswas and I want the three mats at the front so much that the wantyness manifests itself almost as a physical pain. In my heart. Although ridiculously, it's partly because I like the way they look as a group, I'm not sure they'd be as thrilling in isolation. These mats are actually translucent and I'm sure there's probably a usefulness to that, but it doesn't leap out at me. If you are brave enough to risk the possible customs charges, you can find them here. Do you think it would disturb you a little to cut on a translucent mat directly over a carpet?  (Do you see what I've done there? I've talked myself from wanty heartache, to leave-that-mat-in-Korea, all in the space of two sentences! I think that's my version of will power).

If you know of any other colours, a reason for the predominance of Oppressive Green or just want to squeal with delight that there actually other colours in existence, please do so in the comments. Or maybe you're thinking: No, this is ALL wrong. I am not delighted. Cutting mats should be green.

Florence x


UPDATE: I just wanted to add in this beauty that Lindsey Glew mentioned in the comments. I think this may be my favourite one yet. It's Oppressive Green on one side, but beautiful sky blue on the other. It comes in four sizes and you can find it here. Thank you so much, Lindsey!

41 comments:

  1. Victoria at Bumble Beans had a large pink one - I think it was for breast cancer awareness. I swooned.

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  2. I think I agree with the green.... I have a grey one too which, quite frankly, isn't a whole lot better......

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  3. I have the 'oppressive' green in a few sizes, and find it really hard to cut darker colours sometimes through my frosted cutting rulers (the 'Sharp Edge' resharpening ones are frosted for some reason). I agree, for a craft all about colour, why the green? Unless its the cheapest to make...

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  4. So funny, I kind of have always wondered! Mine is a deep crayola type blue and I hate it! Definitely wishing I had a mustard or pale green one though blue is probably best since nothing I rotary cut is ever that color blue!

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  5. I have the Gingher mat and I love it. I was tired of the oppressive green too and was so happy to find this mat. It is a pretty large one which I love too.

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  6. I had never really thought about it but you are so right. I'd love a pale green or duck egg blue.

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  7. I'd love a pink or pale blue mat. Oppressive Green is a great name for the usual colour.

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  8. I thought this as soon as I bought my green mat and yellow rotary cutter- same colours since the 80s! So pleased someone is making a change! I can visualise seasonal collections and patterned borders on the cutting mats, as well as colourful rubber sleeves for the rotary cutters...Anyone looking to start a business?

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  9. A timely post as my huge old dark green mat is so old, the markings have started to disappear and I need to buy a replacement soon. I'm off to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia next week so I'll see what they have there. Thank you for doing the research!

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  10. Ohhh, I WANT the lilac one!

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  11. I have the Fiskar's one in a large size. It's an improvement on green but I'd love a pink or pale blue one - can't think of a reason to buy one except pure want!

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  12. I have just bought two new mats from Graphics Direct, one side is, yes, you've guessed it, green, but the other side is a deep sky blue. That will be the side that I will use for sure.The price was reasonable too!

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  13. Haha you always make me laugh! "Oppressive green" is simply brilliant, as is your "leave-that-mat-in-Korea" train of thought. I too love the pastel mats as a group!

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  15. I like the lilac and the pale blue one. I wish they were available in Portugal! :)

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  16. This is such a timely post for me as I consider a new mat. I've used a heavy weight white/clear mat that fits perfectly on my cutting table for years but cannot see the lines any longer, and the cutting table is having that dour effect on me you describe! so, one thing leading to another I'm getting a new cutting table and have considered the Gingher mat, it more expensive but seeing as you think it's lovely too may make me invest! Those green ones are horrible!!

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  17. This is great, thanks Florence! My dark green cutting mat looks a bit rubbish in my blog photos - I'd love to get a pale blue or yellow one. x

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  18. Very interesting indeed! ;-)

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  19. I recently bought a purple olfa one from amazon and it makes me happy every time I use it. I'm fancying a smaller sized yellow one too :)

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  20. Yes, I completely agree... why always green?! I think the grey one from Korea would make a nice background that would go with any colour of fabric.

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  21. I have a Donna Dewberry cutting mat, and it's a warm lilac on one side and a nice blue on the other -- as seen here although most online listings only show the blue side for some reason. I see stores carrying it in a shopping search on google.co.uk, although they only show the blue side.

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    1. I love that - it's beautiful! Very hard to find in the UK though.

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  22. Thank you for this! It hadn't even occurred to me that cutting mats could exist in any other colour than That green. It's like knowing that Fiskars scissors are Orange. That's it, that's the law. Unchangeable. Anyway, my favourite colour is blue - especially a light blue - not unlike the light blue of that cutting mat you've shown us. I Want one. I might even Need one. But now I am a little concerned that my preference for all things blue might be a problem when I try cutting blue fabrics on a blue mat. They might even start making blue rotary cutters and blue rulers. It could all go terribly wrong. oOOh dilemma!
    (but thanks anyway!) Jane

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  23. I have one of the Fiskars, and it constantly annoyed me with the cut out hanging bit, it was always under the bit you were cutting on. So I have one of the awful green ones, and it's not as good for cutting on as the Fiskars- some people are never satisfied! :o)

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    1. Mmm. that's a really good point - a cut out, when cutting over a carpet, could be a real worry! Thank you for mentioning it. x

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  24. I wish Fiskars would make their scissors handles in other colours too, rather than the 70's orange!

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  25. Just dropping back in to say I've found the Gingher mat available in the U.K. here http://www.carolescraftsuk.co.uk/product-p/85737.htm - looks like free shipping too.
    I'm in France but I'm going to get one sent to a friend of mine who will be driving down so she can lay it flat for me in the boot of her car.

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    1. You are a total superstar! I thought I'd done a completely extensive internet trawl attempting to find this mat in the UK! Thank you. x

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  26. I like the purple one... but the others weren't much of an improvement for my tastes in colour.

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  27. Gosh, I really do understand your need for a cutting mat in any colour other than Oppressive Green. Sometime soon-ish I most certainly will need a larger mat and am oh so happy to think I can have some cheery colour. Thank you!

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  28. Never mind the cutting mats - what ARE you making? Once Liberty appears, I forget the mat. I forget most things, truth be told.

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    1. This is actually from a long time ago! It's Nell's dog bed that I made in March or April of last year! x

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  29. I was just in the shop yesterday and saw that Fiskers has royal blue, too. All the colors were nice.

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  30. Oh my goodness you've read my mind. We've been fitting out our new PlainStitch Workroom this last few weeks and the oppressive industrial green cutting mat has been really bothering me in with all of the lovely mid century colour and texture in the room. You have successfully passed the 'wanties' on to me and I am off to check out those South Korean mats! Thank you!

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    1. Deb, I'm so pleased that the post came at the right time for you! Your workroom sounds like it's going to be amazing.

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  31. You mention the clover cutter as not being very good - I recently made the mistake of buying one and wholeheartedly agree. But what is your cutter of choice? A quilt or two are waiting to be made! Thanks.

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    1. That's interesting that you've found the same thing too - the things that I worry over with this cutter is that the blade has quite a lot of wobble on it, and it doesn't feel properly supported, so I often feel like's brittle and may snap at any moment. The cutter I usually use (it's a 45mm, rather than the 28mm shown in the photo - I'm sure you know, but just in case you don't, that figure refers to the blade size) is one of the dark green and yellow ones made by Omnigrid. It's really not pretty, but it does feel safe, strong and as though I can put some weight behind my cutting without worrying that the blade will snap. I hope that helps. x

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    2. Many thanks indeed - one is ordered already... the Passacaglia from Millefiori will be on its way in no time.
      (Grey cutting mats are not exciting, but are not Oppressive Green so are therefore better. Got mine from Lion.)

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    3. Thanks, I had the same question, although I love my clover rotary cutter. I planned to get a 45mm one at some point. I do notice the blade has to be re-tightened very frequently, but I have found the clover blades to be much sharper than the fiskar blades.

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  32. So much coloured cutting mat love! I'm so pleased I'm n to the only one!

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  33. I have a squarish rotating 10" fiskars cutting mat in that yellowish colour. It's fantastic and rotates pretty well. I wanted the pink one that you've got but happened to see the fiskars one in stock at my mum's workplace so she bought it for me. I like that it has markings on it and I can easily lift it off the rotating bit and use it as a flat cutting mat.

    My friend has a translucent mat like those iswas ones - she's had it for years (at least 10) and it's still going strong.

    And for the person that was asking about rotary cutters. I just paid crazy money to import a gingher rotary cutter (they offer a true left handed cutter) and oh my I'm never using anything else again. I have always struggled to maintain pressure on the ruler and cut in a straight line (significantly weaker right hand due to injury) and now I'm whipping through everything - patchwork fabric, knits, liberty and even dreaded dupion silk without embedding the fibers in my cutting mat. The handles are weighted for either left or right hand and it has a really smooth working safety mechanism.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x