Thursday 4 August 2016

Quilting Rulers - Essential Tools & Tips for New Quilters

Today while I was quilting I actually used all five of my basic quilting rulers which is a very rare occurrence for me, I tend to use each for very specific things and that got me thinking about what is actually necessary for a new quilter as these rulers aren't the cheapest!  This post will talk about basic rulers used for basic patchwork and quilting when using a rotary cutter.

What are quilting rulers?

Quilting rulers are an essential tool for cutting out your patchwork quilt pieces using a rotary cutter.  You can use scissors to cut your fabric, but rotary cutting is miles faster, far more accurate and less likely to give you a headache.  Your cuts will be crisp and sharp meaning its easier to match edges and points which will make your finished quilt look amazing.

My quilting rulers:

  • 6 x 24 inches & 6.5 x 24.5 inches
This is probably the most used quilting ruler out there and is the one I would recommend to new quilters over everything.  You can use this to cut strips or squares and the angles marked lines can be used for marking stitching lines for joining binding strips for example.

I actually have two of these rulers, the Janome on the left which was the first ruler I bought several years ago that has definitely seen better days, it has been dropped multiple times and has a lovely crack.  Its main use these days is for when I ruler fold my fabric for storage, but I find the marked line colours have the best visibility for nearly all my fabrics so I like to keep hold of it.

The second is by creative grids and is actually 6.5 x 24.5.  The best thing about creative grids rulers is the grippy texture on the underside of the ruler meaning the ruler is less likely to slip while cutting.  The extra half inch on the ruler I find way more useful than I would have thought, you just have to be careful to make sure you are using the right measurements on the ruler or you mind end up with half an inch too little or too much than you intend!

  • 8.5 x 12.5 inches
This is my most recent ruler purchase and was definitely a luxury option rather than a necessary one.  I use this ruler all the time when sub-dividing width-of-fabric strips into squares as it is much less unwieldy than the larger ruler which can get bulky when you are cutting narrow strips.  Again this ruler is my creative grids and I totally love it.  The extra width gives great flexibility to this ruler and I use it even more than I thought I would.

  • 12.5 x 12.5 inch square
This is easily my least used ruler overall but sometimes I really need to use this and I'm glad to have it in my collection.  Not only is this ruler great for cutting squares, it is also invaluable when it comes to using two rulers to measure a cut.  I use this ruler mainly when cutting panels into smaller squares, but also for squaring up the corners of quilt tops.  You might not need this every week, but I wouldn't want to find myself without it. 

This ruler is by omnigrid, and while some people really like the yellow grid lines I am personally not a fan.  I do however really love how the square corners for each half an inch size have an  L like pattern on the ruler, this has been very useful to me over the years.

  • 6.5 inch square
This ruler I use everytime I join binding strips, and when I am trimming extra length of borders for example.  If you have the 12.5 inch square this one is not necessary at all, but like the shorter creative grids ruler, it is super useful when you don't want to be manoeuvring a huge chunk of plastic over your sewing space.


If you are just starting out with quilting the ruler I would recommend above all others would be the creative grids 6.5 x 24.5 inches.  You will use this ruler for nearly every project you make, it has great all around use and will be invaluable. 

I find creative grids superior to all others rulers I have tried due to the quality of the line marking and also the reduced amount of slippage when cutting.  If you don't have much slippage when you cut this might not be helpful to you, but the less change you have of ruining yardage the better in my opinion!  You make also find this ruler useful if you find cutting puts stress on your wrists as you are pressing down on the ruler.

Also, rather than buying several rulers to start with, I would stick the basic one to start with and end up seeing what sizes you would find most useful depending on the type of quilts you make.

Of course you get buy special rulers that are for making specific quilts (eg. twister quilts, or dresden plate rulers) but that is a topic for another blog post!