You can’t quilt without them.. rulers! Since they are so important to our craft, I thought I would cover the types of rulers I use and some of the interesting specialty rulers too. Also, I will share tips on care and storage of rulers. Let’s get started!
Ruler Sizes & Types
Here’s a photo of my most used rulers:
These are my favorite sizes. The long 6 1/2 x 24 1/2″ ruler is great for cutting long strips from yardage. I use the 6 1/2 x 12 1/2″ ruler next to it to help square up yardage and also for cutting strips from smaller pieces of fabric like fat 1/4s, fat 1/8s and layer cakes. The 6 1/2 square ruler is used to help square up those smaller fats and also to square up smaller blocks.. Finally, I keep my 4 1/2″ square ruler by my sewing machine to measure block units as I complete them to make sure they are the accurate size.
My favorite brand of ruler is Creative Grid. I like them because they are clear so it’s easier to see the fabric beneath and also because of their markings. Here’s a few of the ones I use a lot.
- The markings between to 1″ lines are different lengths which I think helps me to read the ruler more quickly and accurately while I am cutting.
Notice how the 1/8″ lines are slightly shorter than the 1/4″ lines and the 1/2″ line is longer than both of those. This helps me find odd measurements like 2 3/8″ and 3 3/4″ quickly on the ruler.
- I also like that the numbers go in both directions so no matter how the ruler is turned, they are easy to read.
Finally, I have an array of square rulers from the smaller 4 1/2″ and 6 1/2″ ones already pictured to a 9 1/2″, 12 1/2″ and 16 1/2″ square. These rulers are great to measure completed blocks to make sure they measure the size they are supposed to be.
There are square rulers of all different sizes, but I feel these three will cover the variety of block sizes I make and help me to determine that they measure up.
I don’t use a lot of specialty rulers but I will show you a few that I like. First up is the Quilt in a Day Triangle Square-up Ruler.
This ruler is great for trimming half-square triangle (HST) squares before pressing them open, so you only have to trim two sides instead of four.
I simply place the line of the ruler that corresponds with the size of my HST square on the stitched seam and then trim. Then I press open the HST and it measures the correct size!
The next ruler I use is actually not a quilting ruler, but one that was designed for scrap booking.
With all the appliqué I do, both fabric and wool, I often need circles… accurate circles that I can not draw free hand. Trust me, this template ruler is great! I recommend using one of these if you do a lot of appliqué that uses circles in the design. It’s easier than rummaging through a drawer looking for an circular object to trace around!
There are a lot of specialty rulers on the market. Just be sure it’s a ruler you will use a lot before committing to spending the money. If a ruler is designed to make a specific type of block and you think you will make it over and over, it is definitely worth the money. Others may not be. The best advice I can give is borrow a specialty ruler from one of your quilting buddies before purchasing one to make sure you like it and the quilt blocks it creates.
If you have a specialty ruler you can’t live without, share in the comments below or on my Facebook page that shares this blog post.
Ruler Safety, Storage and Care
Of course to go along with a ruler blog post, I think it’s essential to talk about cutting safety. Also, storage and care for your rulers is important since they are not cheap.
I speak from experience. I sliced off a small bit of my finger a few years back, so I want to share my safety tips.
Tip#1: Use safety items to help keep your hands safe. I use a “klutz” glove and have rotary cutter safety shields on my rulers (see photo below). These are optional, but I highly recommend them to add to your safety. The ruler guard prevents the blade of your rotary cutter from skipping up onto your ruler where your hand is.
The safety shields come only in a 22″ long size for the long ruler, but I bought extra and had them cut to size to fit my smaller rulers.
Tip #2: Keeping the ruler from shifting while you are cutting is also a safety step. A shifting ruler could also send your rotary cutter “off course” and headed for an unprotected hand. Even pressure from your hand holding the ruler keeps it from shifting.
“Tent” your hand as shown in the photos above with your pinkie on the edge to keep the ruler from moving. If you place your hand flat on the ruler, you may inadvertently push the ruler forward. Tenting your hand makes the pressure your are exerting go down instead of forward. When you are cutting a long strip, you may want to stop briefly and move your hand up the ruler so you can keep the pressure even through the entire cutting of the strip.
Tip#3: Finally, this may seem obvious, but I make sure to keep the rotary cutter closed and locked when not in use, even between cutting pieces. If I set it on the table, I close and lock it. This may seem like a simple thing to remember, but you would be surprised how many people have left their cutters open and then dropped it on their foot! Also it’s a good idea to do this so you, or someone else, doesn’t accidentally grab the blade side of the cutter.
- Storage & Care:
Finally, storage and care are important for your rulers. Like I said earlier, rulers are expensive and you want to avoid having to replace them as much as possible. Here are some tips:
- Clean your rulers periodically by dusting with a soft cloth. Do not use anything abrasive like paper towels that can scratch the ruler surface and make the markings harder to read. Also don’t use any cleaning solution with bleach or ammonia. If you need to use a cleaning solution, use those that are meant for plexiglass.
- Store your rulers, like your cutting mat, away from direct sunlight and not in areas of your home with extreme temperature changes.
- Finally, make sure to store your rulers securely. If you drop them or they fall from a storage area, they will chip or break. I hang my rulers on a peg board that can be found at any hardware store. Mine was meant for a garage, but it works in my sewing room.
If you do not have a dedicated sewing room to have wall storage like mine, you can hang your rulers from a hanger designed for ties:
Use a jump ring (you can find at craft stores) to hang the ruler from the existing hole. You can even store them slid under a bed with your cutting mat or flat on a closet shelf, be sure to cover them with an old sheet to keep dust off.
So that’s it for this week. Next week will be a special post as I am taking part in the SEWPink blog hop for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Click on the graphic above to be taken to the SEWPink page. There is a schedule of all the bloggers participating in this hop with clickable links to those who have already posted. There are some wonderful projects from these designers and I will have one next week!
See you next week,