Sunday, June 13, 2010

Is your Self Healing Cutting Mat Smelly?


 Yesterday, I made a purchase I'd been considering for quite some time. I've wanted a self healing mat the size of my sewing table so I could cut out patterns with my rotary cutter. The thought of using a rotary cutter instead of scissors used to make me nervous but since I own pattern drafting rulers (see pic below), I know I can use them and straight rulers as a guide for my rotary cutter. I was visiting Tany's Blog the other day and I noticed that she had a large self healing mat and used it religiously. I admire her advanced sewing skills (she's an expert in her own right), I felt inspired to get one of my own.

 Now I actually didn't do any extensive research on buying a larger size self healing mat.  I knew they were pretty pricy anyways so I stopped looking for a while. I do own a smaller size olfa mat--the 24"X36" and use it every once in a while for smaller jobs. Well while in JoAnn's yesterday I spotted the 35" X 70" Olfa self healing cutting mat. They're remodeling my Jo-Ann's so this was a new item they'd gotten in. It was exactly what I was looking for.

 Since I'm familiar with the brand I didn't have any questions on how it would perform.  Of course I inquired about the pricing and I won't lie, the $174 price tag was a REALLY alarming. But of course I had a 50% off coupon and in addition to that had a $15 gift card and $55 from doing some clients work (I love clients, they fund my sewing endeavors). So by the time I was done, I only really footed $30 or so for the mats. So in my book that wasn't a bad deal. However, I did note that this mat is sold online for roughly $114 and up. Jo-Ann's inflated the mat price since they offer coupons.

(Various pattern drafting rulers from Fairgate (one's not pictured and somewhere in my sewing room). I bought this set a couple of years ago for when I tinker with pattern drafting. There's a ruler for any curve I may need to cut with my rotary cutter.)

When I did some further research on product reviews I noticed everyone for the most part loved their mat but complained about the awful smell it produced. Some people have compared the smell to that of a skunk.  And true enough, after leaving it downstairs for several hours it managed to stink up the area. So I put them in the garage to air out, as some reviewers suggested. I also plan to do as Olfa suggests and wipe them down with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water. I hope this works. I was shocked that this was a huge problem but when you think about it, it makes since.  Here's what some ladies at Pattern Review had to say about it http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/sewingclasses/board.pl?t=27699&pn=1.

Well, whatever they coat this mat in makes it durable but also really stinky.I've read that most self healing mats have some smell to them. Some mats are just more then others.  Do any of you have one of these mats? Did you notice the smell? Were you able to get rid of the smell? Just curious. I haven't used mine yet but before I do I probably should make sure that I can get rid of the smell. I appreciate any helpful info you can provide.

5/7/11 Update: I should have posted this update alot sooner. Soon after calling the Olfa rep helped lots. She suggested I soak my mat in warm weather and add a little lemon dishwashing lemon. A couple of overnight soaks in the tub helped alleviate that smell!

BTW, I'm currently wrapping up my latest project. Here it is, pattern and fabric. I hope to review it tomorrow since I'll be spending the rest of the day taking my little one to a friend's bday party. At the moment this could very well be a great project or a wadder in the making. I'm not sure yet but hey I'm willing to take the risk. We shall see....

23 comments:

  1. I totally want the huge self-healing mat - I have the 24x36 too. Thing is I cut on dining room table so I would have to find a way to store it. And then the price! I think you did really well with the coupons etc. I only use a rotary cutter so the cost is well justified IMO. And you are a serious sewist. My small S.H.M. did smell awful at first. Not like skunk but like chemicals. It took about 3 weeks for it to dissipate. Maybe the large one will take longer? Still worth it.

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  2. I've been wanting that giant mat for a while myself, but have talked myself out of it because of the price. Good to know that if I do buy, beware of the smell.

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  3. I've had my mat about 2 years now and never noticed a smell, however it has started to buckle. I love working on it and it gets a lot wear and tear.

    That fabric is gorgeous and looking forward to your dress.

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  4. I have the large mat that comes in three large pieces and connects together with some plates with screws. When all together it is as large as my dining room table.

    Yes, it did smell really bad when I first got it. (So does the order of neoprene that I just received.) However, the smell does recede over time. As of now, there is no smell left, but I have had it for a couple of years. I could not live without it.

    Definitely try Olfa's advice and also air it out.

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  5. I have one, but I never noticed a skunk smell - maybe a kind of plastic-y smell???? Anyway, it's never been much of an issue - I'm sure airing it out will help... I LOVE the green fabric - that's my favorite color lately... Can't wait to see your dress!

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  6. I have a mat like that too. It didn't smell. Anyways, I guess it all depends on the different brands too. Love the fabric and the pattern.

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  7. I got my cutting mat from Atlanta Thread and Supply (a MegaMat) and they don't stink. I think the price is fair, too. I had to return the mat to JoAnns, I just couldn't take the smell.
    http://store.atlantathread.com/mematsepicum.html

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  8. I have a large mat like yours but it never really smelled that bad. It was a chemically, plastic sort of smell. It dissipated over time. My sewing room is separate to the main house, so smell has never been a problem. You can buy products that help neutralise bad smells. Maybe try one of those if the vinegar doesn't work. I love your green fabric.

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  9. Great deal on the mat, hopefully the vinegar/water will take the smell out. I made that dress last year and loved it, I really hope your turns out great, the fabric is lovely.

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  10. Interesting info on self healing mats. Never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing this information. Love your fabric for your Simplicity pattern.

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  11. Mine just smelled plastic-y too, but not a big problem. I've had it about 15 years (dang, am I that much older than y'all?) so obviously it doesn't smell anymore but it does have a couple of cracks from being stood on end at times in a closet. It's living a better life now flat on a cutting table, and I couldn't sew without it (oh, I might cry now). Congrats on yours and have a long and happy life with it!

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  12. Uummmm interesting... I have a large mat like that but mine comes with a drafting table I bougth 2 years ago, and it's a plain thick mat, no smell at all. I remove it from the large drafting table and placed it on my recently (a year) bougt cutting table and it fits just right....BTW, thanks for your comment on my blog, I am enjoying every bit of the business...and like you I have extra change that keeps my sewing addiction going..lol..Have a great week

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  13. No way is vinegar going to speed up plastic outgassing.. Do whatever you have to in order to avoid breathing that stuff, it's toxic.
    I have an antique mat which isn't Olfa and that I got from Atlanta too, white. It stank some, but not nearly as bad as Olfas, and obviously it was durable enough too (20 years?).
    However I still dream of finding one longer than 36", so that I can cut out a pant leg without having to move the mat, I hate that part..

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  14. I have two large Olfa mats that screw together. They do have a kind of plastic smell but I can't say that it bothers me much. I prefer to use a rotary cutter, I find it quicker and more accurate. I made that Simplicity pattern last year (the maxi version) and I love it.

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  15. I have a large (6'x3') mat with an inch-grid that I got from Atlanta Thread Supply ($100 or less). I couldn't sew without it and I don't remember any terrible smell. I had my old one for about fifteen years. Good luck with your new one.

    PS love the green fabric

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  16. I have a small mat and I don't recall the smell. Love your fabric selection.

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  17. Thanks Ladies for all of your helpful info! I called Olfa and received some additional cleaning tips. We'll see what happens!

    SLSPE, very good question!!! I've been doing my bathing suit research and am about ready to tackle a suit. I have all of my supplies and I think that should be the first thing I do on next week:)

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  18. Oh, you are right on time. I have been looking for one large enough for my cutting table and that would fit perfectly. I have the smaller version and never noticed a smell, but I'll keep that in mind.

    Hope your dress turns out well.

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  19. My cutting mat doesn't smell at all...

    Love the fabric too!

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  20. I received the Olfa mat, big one with three pieces, for Christmas a few years ago. I smelled bad, like chemicals. It did take quite awhile to air out. It was in an unused extra bedroom. I don't notice any smell anymore now.

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  21. It's funny....I haven't quilted in years now and want to get back into it. I purchased a medium sized mat and the smell was so offensive that I had a migraine for 2 days before I figured out what the smell was and I ended up banishing it to our garage, where my dear husband figured it was up for grabs...needless to say I won't be using it for my precious fabrics NOW! But, I purchased a PINK one (for breast cancer) and there is NO SMELL to this one...no treatment required. I am eager to finally purchase a larger one and using the 1:1 white vinegar/water wash that has been recommended on other sites.

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  22. I have a massive (I can lie down on it) self-healing mat that Carl gave me for christmas last year and there's never been any smell to it at all. On a totally unrelated note the two comments above are spam so you might want to disable anonymous commenting or install disqus. See you around.

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