How was one of our best quilting tools invented?

It’s no secret I have a scissor collection. Teeny tiny, knife edge, floral designs- I want them all. To be honest though they don’t get a ton of workout when I’m quilting.

collection of quilting scissors and shears

My main squeeze when it comes to slicing up fabric is my beloved rotary cutter. Super sharp, it makes quick work of strips, squares, and curves. Precision is the name of the game for the rotary cutter.

Snap off blades for cutters were invented in 1956.

Yoshio Okada founded OLFA and originally invented snap off blades for cutters in 1956. The name of “OLFA” comes from two Japanese words, which, when translated, mean “to break a blade”. The OLFA® parallelogram logo is taken from the shape of a snap-off blade. He decided on a soft yellow color, similar to egg yolk, because it was associated with “safety” and “familiar” images.

first olfa snap off blade invented in 1956


The first rotary cutter was invented in 1979.


23 years later he invented the rotary cutter and it changed the quilting world forever. No more tracing cardboard cutouts and then cutting squares with scissors. Accuracy was assured and the strain on your hands and wrists was gone!

first olfa rotary cutter invented in 1979

The best overall rotary cutter size for quilting:

I use my 60mm Deluxe Handle the most. It’s very comfortable and I like that I squeeze it to expose the blade. Then when I put it down the blade closes automatically. Safety first! A mere graze can really hurt from these sharp blades. The red button is a lock to keep it closed. Perfect for when you put it away or if you are taking to sewing night with your friends.

60" olfa rotary cutter best for quilting


The best rotary cutter size for accurate cuts:

I use a smaller 18mm diameter rotary cutter to get super accurate cuts on curves, like the ones my Molehills quilt below features. The results are amazing!

molehill quilt michelle brassens made with 18mm olfa rotary cutter
Don’t forget to replace your blade at regular intervals- there’s nothing like the feeling of a fresh blade! 
Until next time, happy making! 🙂


Michelle Brassens

Hi, I’m Michelle! I’ve never met a craft I didn’t like. Sewing however was where I really found my groove! So I left behind life as a pastry chef and concentrated on making things with fabric instead of food. I work at Dinkydoo Fabrics now and get to write about sewing and quilting for work. Stick with me and I’ll show you all kinds of tips and tricks, from beginner to expert maker level. Can’t wait!