Friday, June 16, 2017

1979: The Year the Rotary Cutter was Born

Yoshio Okada of the OLFA Corporation in Japan invented the world's first rotary cutter in 1979. The invention came 23 years after Okada's breakthrough invention, the snap-off blade cutter.

The OLFA Rotary Cutter revolutionized how people cut fabric, from scissor cutting to rolling a circular blade over the material. 

According to the OLFA website, their rotary cutters are used around the world today by quilters. When I was searching for information online today about the origins of the rotary cutter, I was looking at images of OLFA cutters and thinking, "Gee, those look familiar!" Sure enough, I have two (pictured at top). One of them is displayed in the neat Rotary Cutter Coat made by Dawn White

So, that's the story of the rotary cutter. Are you surprised it was born in the 1970s? I'm not.


  1. I didn't use one till the mid-'80s, and then it was for garment sewing. Pattern weights and a rotary cutter made it s much easier. Trouble is, I cut through the felt on the pool table that I was using as my cutting table. (insert frowny face here)

  2. I had NO idea the rotary cutter was that old!! Thanks for that tidbit of information.

  3. I remember getting my first rotary cutter in 1981, I'm fairly sure that cutting mats weren't presented as an option to use with the rotary cutter, instead I used a chopping board. Needless to say my rotary cutter blade went blunt quite quickly.

  4. I still have my first Olfa rotary cutter, which I bought in the 1980s. And I have a SILVER Limited Edition rotary cutter that Olfa put out for the 25th anniversary of the rotary cutter. For anyone (like me) who learned to quilt in the Olden Days, drawing around a cardboard template and cutting every single piece of fabric by hand with a scissors, the rotary cutter was life-changing!

  5. Not surprised in the least! I started quiltmaking in 1975, and also used cardboard templates, pencils and scissors. I got a mat, cutter and ruler right after they came out. Dot