Can We Talk About Rulers?

Stack of Rulers

When I teach,often there seems a disconnect between what rulers students have and what rulers they need.  So I thought I’d write a post talking about the basics that I wish everyone could have.  [And while I’m at it, rotary cutters need a mention, too.  The largest I’d recommend in a classroom size is 45mm, for a variety of reasons.  I think the larger ones are less helpful, and sometimes even dangerous.]  

Vintage Folding Ruler
I use this folding carpenter’s ruler when measuring the width and length of quilts.

I got started on my ruler fetish honestly, when a mild-mannered shop owner named Carolyn hosted weekly class based on making a sampler quilt.  And every week, she’d hold up a new ruler saying that we needed this to make the block that week.  My friend Leisa and I would exchange glances, knowing that Carolyn was a Ruler Enabler of the Worst Kind: she made it so necessary, that you just knew you couldn’t go on without it.  Because of this, I’ve used a ton of different rulers, and have two drawers and bin full of those plexiglass gridded items.


  • Please don’t buy the cheap rulers.  Take your time to accumulate these, and buy sturdy rulers, as too thin rulers can warp out of shape.
  • Buy rulers that have some sort of coating on the back, preventing slippage.
  • Please buy rulers that have accurate measurements on them, and enough gridlines on them.
  • I am not partial to any one brand, but I did notice that most of my rulers seem to be from Creative Grids, Omnigrid, and Olfa.

I wish every student, every quilter had these basics:

rulers 6 x 24

6″ x 24″ ruler

What it’s used for: large initial cuts off yardage, long narrow cuts of yardage

rulers 6.5 a 12.5 inches

6.5 x 12.5″ ruler

What it’s used for: when working in a smaller space (some classrooms are beyond tiny, and some of our sewing spaces are too), it’s useful to fold the fabric to get the longer cuts.  Also good for truing up smaller parts of blocks.  Good for even-ing up sewn sections.

Caveat: some people hate having that extra 1/2″ on the edges of their ruler.  I got used to it and appreciate it, but for some, it can be distracting.

Small Square Rulers

Small square ruler

With this size, you can rule the world.  You don’t need specialty Flying Geese rulers, if you know how to use this.  The small one is easy to flip around, when truing up blocks, and easy to use to cut smaller shapes, when scrap sewing.

Square rulers, ranging from 6.5″ – 9.5″ – 12.5″

What it’s used for: I use the 6.5 the most, as I believe in truing up sections of a block before sewing it together.  But the other sizes are great for truing up larger blocks, helping you trim your corner of quilt borders evenly.  One day I even purchased a 16.5″ gigantor square ruler, and believe it or not, I do use it more than I thought I would.

BlocLoc 6.5 inch

Bloc-Loc ruler for trimming up Half Square Triangles

What it’s used for: Keeping your sanity when truing up HSTs.  They are expensive and I rarely see them on sale.  I’d start with a 6.5″ BlocLoc and invest from there.  Here are some of the others I’ve picked up over the years:

BlocLoc Rulers

Specialty Rulers I think should be in your stash:

Triangle Rulers
A few of my angle rulers

30-60-90 ruler 

Some times, for some patterns, you need one of these, like when you make Annularity.

Tri-Recs Ruler

Tri-Recs ruler

If you are a traditional quilter, or jump in on one of Bonnie Hunter’s Thanksgiving Quilt-A-Longs, you may find yourself needing one of these one day.

Essential Triangle Tool

Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Ruler

I only purchased this because she said I would need it.  Since then, I ‘ve used it a ton of times in making triangles, and now I consider it one of my go-to rulers.

rulers Cute Cuts 4.5 inch

Lori Holt’s 4.5″ Trim Up Ruler.  Careful.  You can go broke on these, as she has them in every size from newborn to old age.  I have only the 4.5″ and the 8.5″  But what makes these unique is that is is a form of a “centering ruler,” a tool I had to purchase when I studied Clothing and Textiles in college (and which I still use today).

rulers 2.5 by 6.5 inch

2.5″ by 6.5″ ruler.  Verrry handy for trimming up.

Giveaway Ruler

58 thoughts on “Can We Talk About Rulers?

  1. I use the 5″x15″ and 2.5″x8″ rulers from Missouri Star Quilt Company a lot. They are the perfect size for the strip quilt patterns that I use quite often. I especially like the bright tint of the rulers as they are easy to spot among my stuff.

  2. Sometimes we can stress out about all those specialty rulers. I think I have enough to build a small house……LOL. My favorite ruler for me is my omnigrip 6 x 12 nonslip ruler. It is my go to perfect for trimming up on my cramped cutting area. I also love my 6 1/2 x 6 /12 omnigrid ruler for perfecting those cuts.

  3. I use my 2 1/2” rulers a lot and I just bought the 24” one from Creative Grids. It’s my new favorite- easier to cut long skinny strips. And now I’m asking myself why I don’t use my wooden folding ruler to measure borders. I also have a little 2 1/2 in. square which comes in handy for facet cutting

  4. My most used rulers are my 6 1/2″ square and the 6 1/2″ x 24″ rulers. Would hate to have to cut without them. I have an old folding ruler that is broken. Never thought of using it in quilting. It belonged to my dad so it is special.

  5. I have gotten used to the Creative Grid rulers with the half inch. I find them the most useful. I have a 2×2 ruler that is very good for cutting small pieces. I also splurged on a 22×22 ruler which I like for squaring up large quilts.

  6. The one that made my life easier is my 4×14. I started with an Omnigrid and added a a Creative Grids in the same size because several friends wanted me to try that brand and I figured I’d get the one I was sure to use. I like the way CG doesn’t slip, but the Omni has eighths and sometimes I need them. My second fave is a 4.5″ because I cut a lot of improv curves and I slide it along with my rotary to keep two layers of fabric secure. So far I haven’t given in to BlockLoc but I dread HST trimming. Could I stop at one?

  7. Over the years, I have purchased most of the rulers Bonnie Hunter recommended for her mystery quilts, “magical” rulers I have seen demonstrated at quilt shows, like the Square-in-a-square ruler, and numerous specialty rulers. Do I ever use them? No. I never even remember I own them! Now I am in the process of replacing all of my standard Omnigrid rulers with OmniGRIP rulers, I love them!

  8. Lovely post! My go to ruler for strips is a Taylor Ruler called shape cut Pro. It gives me the ability to cut 8 – 2.5 ” strips without moving a ruler to re-square up . What a time saver.
    I also love Omni and Creative Grid rulers but I could break the bank trying to acquire any more. lol

  9. I agree with your comments about rulers. I am one who loathes the rulers with the dreaded half inch measures. I like my smaller rulers to have 1/8 inch grids- those lines are thin and fine. They work great for miniatures which I love to make. I think that my favorite rulers are the newer Quilters Select by Alex Anderson. They do not slip but the lines are thin and easy to see. The Easy Angle and TriRecs are totally necessary for our ruler stashes. Thanks fir sharing

  10. My favorite ruler of all time was by Judy Martin. It was 7×19 and I nearly cried when she no longer stocked them. I choose Creative Grids whenever possible. I don’t like omnigrid because I find the yellow distracting. Lately I’ve tried Quilters Select with that nonslip coating on the back and I like them a lot.

  11. I have a serious ruler fetish! I have most of what you mentioned in your very informative post! I love both Omnigrid and Creative Grid rulers. I love Quilt In A Day flying geese rulers for making multiple units — I also love my corner clipper ruler for any blocks that are stitch and flip — makes the bonus triangles easier to work with. Now that I’m retired I only make small projects and tend to buy patterns specific to the rulers I have on hand!

  12. It is very easy to feel the need to have so many. I tend to use my 6x 24 and 6x 6 most often.

  13. My go to ruler is a 6 x 12 Olfa ruler. I do not have any 6 1/2″ wide rulers.But, it looks like I might have to try them.

  14. For a year my go-to was a 6.5”’square Creative Grid ruler. Then we moved and I couldn’t find it. I started using the very first ruler I bought a 6.5” x 11.5”. It has more lines so I’m sticking with it for now but it does have that pesky extra half inch on one side that throws me off. I’m sure I’ll make a mistake soon and will get frustrated enough to swap again.

  15. I’ll disagree with you on one recommendation, though it’s an extremely minor one. When I teach beginner quiltmaking, I recommend two rulers: 6-1/2″ X 24″ (versus your 6″ X 24″), and 6-1/2″ X 6-1/2″. Learning to account for the extra 1/2″ is important, and students learn the value of making an indication line with masking tape. Those two sizes are MUSTS when first beginning quiltmaking. After obtaining those two rulers, the rest are fluff. IMHO. 🙂

  16. I’m one f those people who hate the extra half inch on my rulers, probably because some have it and some don’t. My most often used rulers would be my 6×12, 6×6 and 6×24 Omnigrid rulers. My favorite specialty rulers old be the Bloc Loc and Bonnie’s Essential Triangle. Of course if you are doing circles, a wedge ruler is a good idea too. As far as cutters go, I use my 60 mm for long cuts, my 45mm for most quilting and my 18mm for clothing construction.

  17. Whew! I am just getting started and have only 3 rulers. I was glad to see they were all on your list of basics. Thank you for this information! Looking forward to purchasing more rulers. (insert here Wilma and Betty from The Flintstones ~ “Charge it!”) 🙂

  18. I love several different of my rulers. I disagree about Flying Geese, and my Blok-Locs make them a breeze now! I also love my 8-1/2 X 12 ruler, and the 2-1/2 X 6. The last is especially helpful as I work my way through Vintage Farm Girl!

  19. I think I use my Olfa 6” x 24” the most, it is just a size that works for many different things. I do a lot of foundation paper piecing and have a 15” square ruler that I use a lot for putting on top of FPP blocks and sections as I make them. I place my iron on top and let it cool with the iron weight on top and it flattens all those FPP seams nicely.

  20. I use my 6×24 and my 6.5 square rulers the most, but do have a few others if I can find them when I want them!

  21. I am a huge fan of Creative Grids rulers and am slowly switching out my other brands for the CG ones! I think the grippy underside holds tight to fabric the best. My “go to” sizes are 6.5″x12.5″ and a number of square up rulers. I also love Bloc Loc rulers!

  22. I use my 6X24 ruler quite a bit, and I love my 6.5X12.5. Creative Grids ruler. But my favorite ruler is my 2X12 dressmaker ruler! I use it for practically everything!

  23. I am new to quilting so this post was very helpful to me! thank you! I have one ruler – an Omnigrid 6×24 which works well for me, I like the grips on it! Thank you for the insight on rulers and the lovely giveaway! Have a great week!

  24. After reading this post, I just realized that I have a ton of rulers too, more than I thought! My favorite, most used ruler is the Creative Grids 6.5 x 24 cutting ruler. I don’t have the 6.5 x 12, but I think that would be one I’d really use a lot too!

  25. I have a bunch of rulers but seem to go back to my Creative Grids basic rectangles most. Would love to try the Bloc Loc sometime.

  26. My go-to ruler is a 8 1/2” x 24” Omnigrid non-slip ruler. Yes, it’s big and I find that 8 1/2” side VERY useful. I also have smaller square Omnigrids I use a lot. I haven’t tried Bloc-loc rulers, though I would like to. Thanks for an interesting post!

  27. Good post Elizabeth. I have 3 rulers that I use regularly; 6 x 6, 6 x 24 and 12.5 x 12.5. These three do just about everything I need. Years ago I bought a super large 20.5 x 20.5 on sale and use it every time I’m squaring up corners on quilt tops. I also have a total of 5 triangle rulers and have only used one. I don’t really know how to use the others which is my biggest complaint about specialty rulers. They don’t come with enough explanations. I have one 6″ Bloc-Loc which I love for trimming HST. I will say when you get used to a certain brand it can be hard to use another ruler. I found this out the hard way at a guild sew day when I forgot my ruler. Using what was there, I misread the measurements and cut incorrectly. ugg.

  28. I find myself staying with the Omnigrid “family” of rules when possible. As I get older, I find the yellow or green lines easier to read than the black. I prefer the 8 1/2″ X 24″ for long cuts and love, love, love my 6 1/2″ square when I’m working with smaller pieces. If I could own only one ruler, I would choose the 6 1/2″ X 12 1/2″ for its versatility.

  29. My favorite ruler are the bloc loc rulers. They make squaring up those half square triangles so much easier and accurate.

  30. Betty Gall rulers–they have non-slip ridges on the back. I know they are old school, but they can do almost everything.

  31. I use my creative grids 6 1/2 x 24 the most. I use the creative grids because my local quilt shop handles this brand and it suits my needs. it’s the one I grab mostly when I need a ruler…..why ? I guess it’s just habit, but I love it !!!

  32. I really like my Deb Tucker (Studio 180 designs)rulers. The Tucker trimmers are wonderful for accuracy, because you can use them if you like to iron seams open.

  33. I use 2 rulers for almost everything. my Olipfa ruler for long cuts and strips, and my fiskars 6 x 12 inch ruler (which is no longer available in the US, so I am easing into the Olfa frosted in the same size) for smaller pieces, triangles, etc. (I am one of those that absolutely hates that extra half inch on the ruler!) I also have wedge and specialty rulers, but I rarely take them out as I have found that I can configure most from my two main rulers. I will say that I am a little persnickety about my ruler lines. The omnigrid lines are way too thick with the yellow, black, yellow thickness. If a person’s block can be thrown off by a quarter inch vs. scant quarter inch, this is a very crucial concern if you end up cutting your pieces a scant too big or small. This is a great post, as I have been considering a few of these, so your feedback on them is very much appreciated. Thank you for this!

  34. What a great topic! I am a ruler addict…though less so lately than I used to be. I seem to use the same three brands you mentioned..but last year at a retreat a friend lent me Quilters Select rulers and I was very impressed with their fabric grabbing properties. I DID NOT need more more rulers but I did “have to have” three of the Quilters Select.

    I tend to use a 4”X12” a lot for both quilting and apparel making. I love my small Creatve Grids in 2.5” and 3.5” sizes for small hand work and, of course, larger squares and rectangles for quilt blocks.

    Coming from the days of quilting that were pre-rotary cutter I am a dedicated rotary devotee. I used to use a 45 (always found the 60 a bit too large) but have found the smaller 28 is much more useful to me. I get better control on cuts and use it for both quilts and apparel.

  35. I use the 6 inch by 24 inch ruler. It has non-slip circles spaced throughout the ruler. I also us a square ruler alot. I also hsve a collection of speciality rulers.

  36. Right now my favorite ruler is the stripology ruler. That was a good post.

  37. The one I couldn’t live without is my 6 x 24 Omnigrid. Of course, I use many others, triangles, Dresden blades, tumblers and such. One you didn’t mention, not really a ruler, is the Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer, for marking the corners of seam lines of pointy pieces. It has all the common angles from 135 degrees down to 22.5 degrees, with holes in the points to mark the seam corners. I love it.

  38. I have many rulers, but find I use my omnigrid 3″x18″ w/edge the most. It travels well w/a fold-up cutting mat. I also use the bloc-loc rulers for half square triangles. Saves your sanity!

  39. My favorite WAS the Omni 6 x 12 ruler until Alex Anderson and Floriani came out with the Quilter’s Select one. I love it! It is very like the Omni ruler, but it has non slip coating on the back that really works! Also, it is numbered in both directions. A small thing, but very useful so far. I also bought the 6 x 24 ruler, and still have the Omni in this size. Oh sure, I have many squares and specialty triangles, but those two rectangle rulers are the best. I also bought the 6″ square QS.

  40. Quilters Select have become my new favorite rulers. Kindof expensive but worth it. You can’t beat Bloc Loc for HST trimming. Wish I had some of the other Bloc Loc rulers.

  41. I like the Omnigrip rulers because it seems that green contrasts well with most color fabrics and they don’t slide when cutting. I like the 8.5″ x 24″ when I’m cutting lots of strips from fabrics. Creative Grids is my second favorite and I have a huge selection of them, lots of sizes of squares plus specialty shapes.

  42. My favorite ruler has orange ink rather than that bright yellow. It’s several years old – 6” x 12” – I love it because it’s easy on my eyes. Obviously it wasn’t a big seller as the ruler companies went to yellow and black.

  43. Great topic. My new favorite is the Quilter Select brand. Love the way they grip fabric. Love my bloc-locs too (HST and flying geese).

  44. My favorite ruler is the creative grids 6.5 x 12.5 ruler. I find it the most versatile, however, for a new quilter, I think the most verstile rulers are 8.5 x24.5″, 12.5″ square and a smaller ruler such as 6.5″ square. The 8.5×24.5″, while it can be difficult, it will cut a wide range of strip sizes.

  45. I have to say I’m a bit obsessed with Creative Grids. It took a while to get the whole 1/2″ and 1/4″ side and the other built in measurements but I love them.
    Omnigrid is my second favorite and I’d love to win that handy size.
    Its fun to read all the different comments.

  46. I only have three acrylic rulers. In order of use, they’re the 6 x 12″ ruler, the 6 x 24″ ruler, and the specialty Dresden blade ruler I splurged on. I wish I had a square ruler for trueing up blocks!

  47. My favorite is my 6″×24″, it was the first ruler I bought back in the late 80’s . It has every angle printed on it which I’ve used. My 2nd is my 12.5″ Square. I collected a number over the years. I haven’t gotten into the bloc-lock as I can’t figure out how they’ll help me better than a good line on another ruler.

  48. I have only used the 6″ X 24″ ruler to cut off long strips for EPP fussy cutting. I know it does not make a lot of sense, but I have a few others I really do not know how to use – but read where I would need them! LOL! I am a gadget person.
    I do have a lot of acrylic fussy cutting shapes for EPP.

  49. Thanks for this post, so much information! I started with OLFA and Omnigrid rulers, which I still enjoy using. But my favourites are now rulers by Creative Grids, any type. I think they have a very clear design for cutting fabric or blocks plus good quality material. And they do not slip. Even after many years in use, the quality stays the same. Just wanted to leave my opinion even-though I cannot take part in the giveaway

  50. I do a lot of paper piecing so my most used ruler is the one I use for trimming block sections after piecing. It’s 3 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ which seems like an uncommon size, but to me is is super handy.

  51. I mostly use 2 rulers: 6 x 24 and 6 x 12. Both by Olaf but the Forster ones, they stay on the fabric really well, no sliding at all. I’m very happy with those.

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