There are a few different ways that you can trace and cut pattern pieces from felt. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common methods and which is the easiest for making perfect felt shapes. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, so it is important to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Best supplies for cutting from felt
Before we discuss the different techniques for cutting pattern pieces from felt, let’s talk about some of the other tools and supplies you may need.
We don’t need anything fancy, any old inkjet printer will do!
There are several options for what to print your pattern template onto.
- Card stock: 80-120lb Card stock paper is my preference because it’s thicker and sturdier. Not only is it easier to trace around but you can reuse your pattern pieces over and over saving time, money and materials if you want to make your project again.
- Regular office paper: Works if you don’t have card stock paper, but lacks the rigidity and often moves while trying to trace around it. If you’re really careful you can save the pieces for reuse, but they tear easily.
- Construction paper or colored card stock paper: This is a no brainer for paper craft projects. Skip the tracing step by printing the pattern pieces directly onto the color paper you want to use.
- Tracing paper: Handy for hand tracing your pattern pieces, but can also be printed on. Very think and delicate, you may not be able to reuse these. If you like to use the pin and cut method, tracing paper giving more accurate results than the rest.
You’ll need some way to mark the cutting lines onto your felt. Tailors chalk, disappearing ink pens, erasable chalk markers or even a regular old pencil or pen all work well. I always use heat erasable fabric pens so I don’t have to worry about leaving marks!
Whatever you use, just be sure to test your marking tool on a scrap piece of fabric before using it on your project to ensure that it won’t damage your fabric.
Ideally, you’ll want two sets of scissors. Regular household scissors to cut paper and a separate set of fabric scissors that you only use for cutting fabric. This will prevent your scissors from getting dull and will make cutting fabric much easier.
Medium (6″) to small (4″) scissors with a pointy tip will give you the most precise cuts, especially when working on smaller projects. I recently discovered these micro serrated fabric scissors and they are AMAZING. While smooth edged scissors tend to push the fabric away from the blade, these Perfect Scissors grip the fabric giving you a much cleaner cut.
Ruler or a curved ruler/hip curve
A regular ruler is fine for simple shapes, but if you’re working with curves you may want a curved ruler or hip curve. This will help you get nice, smooth lines when tracing around your pattern pieces.
A rotary cutter is a sharp, circular blade on a handle. They come in different sizes, but I find the 45mm size to be the most versatile. Rotary cutters, when used with a straight edge, are great for cutting long, straight lines and can be used on a variety of different fabrics including felt.
You will need some sort of cutting surface that you can use with your rotary cutter. A self-healing cutting mat is ideal because it protects your surfaces and dulls your blades less quickly than other materials. They come in all sorts of sizes, but I like 18×24 – not too big, not too small.
This mat is probably my most used crafting tool. I actually tend to use mine more as a ruler and alignment assistant than I do for actual rotary cutting!
Now that you have all the supplies you need, let’s talk about how to actually trace and cut your pattern pieces from felt.
How to cut felt pattern pieces
There are a few different ways to do this and the method you use will depend on the project you’re working on as well as your personal preference. Let’s go over a few of the most common methods.
The Trace and Cut Method
The most common way to cut pattern pieces from felt is to trace and cut. This method is simple and straightforward. All you need is your pattern, a piece of felt, a tracing tool, and a sharp pair of scissors.
- Print your pattern onto paper.
- Cut out your pattern pieces. Remember not to use your good fabric scissors on paper!
- Trace your pattern templates onto your felt.
- Cut out your traced felt pieces INSIDE the lines for the best accuracy.
This method is the easiest, but it can leave you with unwanted marks on your fabric or inaccurate pattern pieces depending on how well you are able to trace. If your tracing is off, your final product will be as well.
- Simple and straightforward
- No special tools or supplies needed
- Tracing must be accurate
- May end up with unwanted marks on your fabric
The Pin and Cut Method
If you don’t need to be precise or are working on a larger project, you can use the pin and cut method. This method is similar to the trace and cut method, but instead of tracing your pattern pieces directly onto the fabric, you will simply pin them to your fabric and carefully cut around the pattern pieces. I don’t recommend this method for small pieces or if you need accurate cuts.
- Print your pattern onto paper (tracing paper works best!)
- Cut out your pattern pieces.
- Pin the pattern pieces to your felt. I like to use straight pins for this so they’re easy to remove later on.
- Cut out your felt along the lines of your pinned pattern pieces. Be sure to remove the pins as you go so they don’t get in the way!
- You don’t have to do any tracing
- Not as accurate as other methods
- Pins may leave holes
- Not ideal for small pieces
The Invisible Tape Method
If you don’t want to risk leaving any marks on your fabric, you can use invisible tape to adhere your pattern pieces to the felt before cutting. This method is similar to the pin and cut method, but it’s much easier to remove the tape and doesn’t leave any holes. This method works best for small pattern pieces.
- Print your pattern onto paper.
- Cut out your pattern pieces.
- Adhere your pattern pieces to the felt with invisible tape. Be sure to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles for an accurate cut.
- Cut out your felt along the lines of your taped pattern pieces.
- Remove the tap
- No marks or holes left on fabric
- Tape may be difficult to remove or leave a residue. Test your fabric and tape first!
- May distort or stretch your felt when pulling teh tape off
- May not work well for larger pieces
The Freehand Cut Method
If you’re working on a simple project or don’t need precise cuts, you can just hold the pattern piece with your finger and freehand cut your pattern pieces from felt. This method is the quickest and easiest, but it’s not terribly accurate and its difficult to keep the pattern piece in the right spot. Or if you’re really good, you skip the pattern piece altogether and just cut away! I only recommend this method if you’re working on a very simple project.
- Cut out your pattern pieces from paper.
- Hold the paper pattern piece against the felt with your finger and cut around it with scissors.
- No tracing or special supplies needed
- Quick and easy
- Not accurate
- Can be difficult to keep the pattern piece in place
The Freezer Paper Method
This is my preferred method for most of my projects and what I consider the best way how to cut felt perfect felt shapes. It’s quick, easy, and accurate, and it doesn’t leave any unwanted marks or holes on your fabric. The key to this ingenious method is to use freezer paper! It will stick to the felt without leaving a residue, eliminating both the need to trace or adhere your pattern to the felt!
Bonus is that you can keep reusing the pieces, just by pressing them again with a hot iron on a new piece of felt or fabric. Be sure to check out our post on using freezer paper for crafts for full details.
- Print your pattern onto freezer paper (make sure the shiny side is facing down!). If you don’t have a printer, you can trace your pattern pieces onto the freezer paper with a pencil.
- Cut out your pattern pieces. (You can lazy cut around the pattern piece, no need to precise cut them out at this point)
- Iron the freezer paper onto the felt (shiny side down), being careful not to melt the felt. You don’t need to use a lot of heat, just long enough to make the two adhere. A few seconds on medium to high heat with no steam works best for me.
- Cut out your pattern pieces from the felt.
- Peel off the freezer paper and save your pattern pieces for later use.
- No tracing
- No marks or holes left on fabric
- Extremely accurate cuts
- Can reuse the pattern pieces over and over again
- Must have freezer paper and an iron
The Electronic Cutting Method
If you want the cleanest cuts possible, you may want to consider using an electronic cutting machine. These machines are very precise, so you can create intricate designs with ease. You won’t have to print, trace or hand cut your pattern pieces, but buying a Cricut or Silhouette can be quite expensive. You also need to convert your pattern into an SVG or compatible file. If you’re not comfortable with this, there are many online services that will do it for you for a small fee or you can experiment with some free online SVG converters.
- Open your file in your cutting machine’s software.
- Size your pattern pieces to fit your project.
- Load your felt onto the cutting mat and feed it into the machine.
- Watch as the machine does all the work for you!
- Very accurate cuts
- No tracing, hand cutting or adhesive needed
- Can be very precise with intricate designs
- Can be expensive to get started
- May take some time to learn how to use the machine and software
- You need to have or create an SVG file of your pattern pieces.
- You may need to purchase a special cutting mat
- You may need to invest in a cutting special blade
- May be laborious if you don’t always have your cutting machine out and ready.
Which felt cutting method is the best?
As you can see, there are many different ways that you can trace and cut pattern pieces from felt. It’s all a matter of preference and needs based on the project you are working on.
My personal order of preference for felt cutting methods is:
- Freezer paper. It’s just so quick, easy and saves times by removing steps. I also love how precise and accurate my pieces turn out. It really is a win/win!
- Cutting machine. This would probably be my #1 if it weren’t stored in a box in the way back corner of my closet. It’s quite the adventure digging out my ancient Silhouette and setting it up. But now as I write this, the Cricut Maker 3 Sewing Bundle is looking mighty intriguing! If I pull the trigger, I’ll let you know!
- Trace and cut. I will use this for larger pieces or patterns that don’t have intricate cuts. I like that I don’t have to try and keep the pattern piece in place somehow.
I honestly don’t ever use the other methods. They just don’t make sense after having discovered the freezer paper method!
Do you have a preferred method for tracing and cutting pattern pieces from felt? Let us know in the comments below and happy crafting!