A quilter’s ruler is one of those “must-haves” for quilters, from novices to experts alike. And much like the beautiful, unique quilts you make or dream of making soon, there seems to be an endless variety of rulers. Especially for those starting out, the multitude of choices can seem more intimidating than helpful.
So What’s A Quilters Ruler Exactly?
The art form of quilting involves many different elements you must implement in order to produce the type of quilt you want. Breaking down quilting into these elements, or systems can help you organize your techniques and tools more effectively.
When piecing together the top of the quilt, precision is key. If your pieces are off even by a little, they won’t fit together and in turn, your quilt will look a mess. Perfecting and fine-tuning your own personal cutting system is crucial. And they are personal. Over time, you will discover what works for you and what doesn’t. And it may be different than everyone else’s.
Cutting involves a rotary cutter, a mat, and a ruler. Quilter’s rulers are very specific tools made just for quilters. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill hardware store ruler.
Usually made out of a clear acrylic, every ruler has important information etched on each side. Traditionally they are available in rectangles, squares, and triangles, although curvy ones also come in handy.
With all these choices, where do you even start?
A Beginners First Ruler
When you are beginning your quilting journey, get yourself a 6.5 x 24” ruler. This is the absolute the best choice for newbies. They are handy when cutting yardage since it’s the same length as the fabric. This means you can easily cut the fabric in half, cut strips, etc. without having to move the ruler around too much.
Well, that was easy. Now you can run off and get to quilting, right? Not so fast. Every ruler comes equipped with crucial information. And knowing how to read this information and use it effectively will make your first foray into quilting that much easier.
Acrylic rulers are the norm these days but they come with their own set of challenges. With information printed on both sides, you need to familiarize yourself with each rulers layout so you don’t line up your cuts incorrectly.
To combat this, Arteza’s Acrylic Quilter’s Ruler features a patented double color grid for clarity. It also makes it easier to read on both dark and light fabric.
The etched squares are 1” each. They are the most visible and allow you to make straight line cuts quite nicely. Inside the squares are tick marks measuring all the way down to ⅛”. How’s that for precise?
You will also notice a variety of diagonal lines, which helps you cut a variety of angles for triangles and other shapes. You turn your ruler as opposed to your fabric when cutting angles. Simply line up the edge of the desired diagonal line with the edge of your fabric and voila!
Once you have this in your toolkit, you are ready to make any kind of quilt imaginable.
A Beginners Second Ruler
As you become more familiar with quilting, and more familiar with your own style and preferences, you’ll want to expand your toolkit. Arteza Acrylic Quilters Ruler Kit contains four square rulers, 4.5"X4.5", 6"X6", 9.5"X9.5" and 12.5"X12.5", all with that amazing double color grid.
Having a variety of sizes on hand helps support your cutting system. You are now prepared to make different kinds of cuts in different sizes and angles. And in the most accurate way possible.
The 6.5 x 24” ruler can pretty much to do it all, but it is always a good idea to take into account the smallest of details. The final outcome will be stronger, and usually easier to come by.
We’ve mentioned rectangular rulers and square rulers but what makes a rectangle different from a square? What about a triangle ruler!? Here’s a brief rundown of the uses, benefits, and some tips for each type of ruler.
- Rectangle rulers are primarily used for cutting strips and trimming fabric edges.
- The smaller rectangle rulers are easy to manipulate for shorter strips and secondary cutting.
- Great for cutting yardage.
- Rectangle rulers can be really long like the 24” ruler recommended here. When cutting a full 24”, be mindful of wiggling the ruler, which results in an uneven cut. Place your hand closer to the bottom to start and once you are halfway up, move your hand to the middle. This way, your ruler remains nice and secure.
- Square rulers are often used for secondary cutting of strips, and to square up finished quilt blocks.
- But they’re good for lots of things too like cutting strips and squares from a Fat Quarter.
- The diagonal lines help with triangles, to find the true center on patchwork units, and use it for cutting angles.
- The really little ones, like the 5 x 5” ruler are invaluable. Oftentimes, you may cut blocks or units a little over to speed up the initial process. These little guys make it easy to square them up later.
- Triangle rulers are used to cut half-square and quarter-square triangles.
- Really the fastest, easiest way to cut triangles and angles.
- Specialized rulers used to make curvy log cabin quilts or any other unusual shape you may be dreaming of.
All of them! When you’ve been quilting for a long time, you develop your own methods and habits. With your expert knowledge, you select the right tools just for you.
Quilts come in all shapes and sizes and so do rulers. Hey, you may want every size imaginable or you may be A-OK with the two we recommended. It’s all up to you!
It’s always a joy finding that just right tool to help you create something you love.