Can We Talk About Rulers? (Giveaway)

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.]  

Read through to the end, leave a comment telling which ruler you use the most, and why, and you can be entered for a Giveaway (US only).  Giveaway now closed; thanks to all who entered!

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.

Tips:

  • 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

P.S. I had this toy from Berlin way before Megan Rapinoe led the US Team to a World Cup in soccer.

I hope you’ll contribute to this conversation by leaving a comment, telling us what your favorite ruler is, what brand it is (if that’s important), and why you like it.  That will enter you in a Giveaway for a ruler, as I’ll be sending out (USA only) a 6″ ruler, courtesy of my pocketbook and a recent bonzo coupon at a national chain fabric store.

Leave a comment below to enter the giveaway.  I will notify the winner by email in a few days.  Thanks for entering!

Although the giveaway is now closed, and the winner has been notified, the comments here are a wealth of information and helpful ideas, so I hope you’ll take a look at them.  There are a lot of very experienced quilters out there! Thank you all for entering.