Quilting rulers are one of the most important tools in a quilter’s work space. Whether you’ve just started on your quilting journey or have quilted for a while now, you probably remember the first time you saw all the different rulers available to sewists and quilters. You may have been completely overwhelmed. As a new quilter, you might have wondered: how did I go from a standard wooden school ruler to the multitude of clear acrylic rulers in an excess of shapes and sizes? What are all these rulers for?
Today, we’re talking about quilting rulers: what they are, which ones are our favorites, why we love them, and what you need to know when it comes to handling quilt rulers.
What are Quilting Rulers?
Quilting rulers are specialty rulers made out of clear acrylic with grid and angle lines and measurement marks on the surface. The clear acrylic makes it very easy to lay the ruler on top of the fabric and make precise alignments to cut along the fabric grain. To work with your quilting ruler, you’ll also want a rotary cutter and a self-healing cutting mat.
Why do we need Quilting Rulers?
Quilting rulers are used for several different purposes in quilting. We use them to precisely size and cut on the straight grain of fabric to create quilt pieces we can piece together. We also use quilting rulers to trim blocks to the right size before we begin quilting. Free motion quilting uses quilting rulers held up against the presser foot of the machine to serve as a guide and create special designs.
What are your favorite Quilter Rulers?
Thimbles really love Creative Grids Quilting Rulers. They’re designed by quilters for quilters, so we trust Creative Grids to know exactly what we need when designing their rulers. Made from high-quality acrylic, most Creative Grids rulers feature large numbers in stark black and white—making them easy to read regardless of fabric color. The number in the white circles denotes whole inches while the numbers in the black circles denote half inches, so it’s simple to find your measurement at a glance. They also have a ¼” dashed line along the edge for seam allowances, which is really helpful.
A few companies make ruler grips to prevent your ruler from slipping around the fabric and ruining your measurements. Creative Grids include a gripper embedded in the ruler so you don’t ever have to worry about slippage.
Creative Grids also offer a ton of different shapes and sizes—there’s definitely a ruler for any need you might have. They’re perfect for ruler work and include specialty sizes for piecing. And almost all Creative Grids rulers include a QR code you can scan if you need more help and information about the ruler!
What are some essential Quilting Ruler sizes and shapes?
Lots of quilters like 6” x 24”, 6.5” x 12” and 6.5” x 24.5” Quilting Rulers because they offer some versatility. The 6-6.5” width covers most fabric cut widths, and as fat quarters typically measure 18” x 22”, the length of these quilt rulers will accommodate the length of fat quarters to cut squares and rectangles. You can cut strips and create larger quilt blocks with these quilting rulers. If you love working with fat quarters, invest in one of these rectangular sizes.
As you begin to craft more and more quilts, you will eventually need a Half Square Triangle Quilting Ruler. A lot of popular quilt patterns use HST (half square triangles)—it’s an incredibly flexible block and quilters love it. We used it in our Sewing Sewcial 2023 Eclectus Block, and you wouldn’t be able to complete the Tropical Paradise Quilt without it (although ALL the Sewing Sewcial stores pre-cut those pieces for you, so in this case, you could!).
The Creative Grids Half Square 4 in 1 Triangle Ruler is a great option.You can create half square triangles in several different sizes using four different methods. Watch the video below for a demonstration.
I’m just starting out and there are so many different kinds of Quilting Rulers. What’s your go-to Quilting Ruler?
We really love the Creative Grids 6.5” x 6.5” Quilting Ruler. A square ruler is a must-have tool for squaring up blocks up to 5.5”, and the 6.5” size is really convenient for cutting small pieces for a quilt. It’s also very useful for trimming HSTs and Flying Geese—see that 45 degree line bisecting the square? Align it with your diagonal seams to make sure they create matching points.
Lots of quilters might tell you to go for the larger quilting rulers to start out with. However, if you’re trying to cut a 2” square and you have a 10” square to work with, you’ll wind up elbowing yourself in the stomach every five minutes. It can become very unwieldy and unmanageable. No thanks! Most quilt blocks are around 6.5” or under, making this size our pick for most versatile.
We hope you enjoyed and learned something from this quick guide to Quilting Rulers. Do you have a favorite Quilting Ruler? Let us know!
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