It is quite funny that quilting involves cutting a large piece of fabric into smaller pieces, only to sew them back together into a large piece of fabric again.
Alas, this is the plight of every quilter, and while it's the process we all must go through, having the right rulers in your arsenal of tools will help your piecing go together correctly.
We recommend that you start with four to six simple rulers for a couple of reasons. The suggestions are based on sub-cutting, strip cutting, squaring your block, creating a block, and learning to trim a block successfully.
Without these rulers, you will increase your chances of making blocks that do not measure correctly.
Best Quilting Rulers for New Quilters
Quilting relies on having correct measurements, and this can only be achieved by cutting everything right the first time.
Before we discuss each type of ruler, it is essential to know how to read a quilt ruler. A quilting ruler is different than most other rulers because it is set up in a grid fashion.
- The first thing to notice here is the grid format and hashes. The hash marks are increments of 1/8th of an inch. Eight 1/8th’s make an inch.
- Most of the time, when you are cutting, you are cutting in ¼’s, ½’s and ¾'s. Most patterns do not include cutting 1/8ths.
- The large circles highlight the inch marks. The diagonal line running corner to corner represents a 45° angle.
- Along the top and right side, you will notice a shaded gray area. This area is ¼”. Its purpose is to allow a quick measurement for ¼”.
- The left side and bottom area are shaded to the ½”. Again this allows for a quick check for ½”.
When attempting to cut using a quilting ruler, it is essential to align all the fabric along the hash marks from end to end to achieve a perfectly straight cut.
A cut that is slightly off by ⅛” or ¼” can quickly lead to blocks that are not aligned correctly.
The following companies make superior ruler products.
Creative Grid rulers are quilters first choice several reasons.
The rulers have built-in grips on the reverse to prevent slippage against the fabric. Easily slid the ruler around and then once you are set to cut, push down, and the grips prevent the ruler from slipping.
The numbers and hash marks are big and easy to read. Scan the QR Code printed on the ruler to view a tutorial of its features.
The turn around feature allows left-handed users to use the ruler without having to flip the ruler around to read the numbers.
The 6” x 24” ruler does not have the ⅛” measurements included, while the 6 ½” x 24 ½” ruler does. The 6 ½” x 24 ½” ruler also includes 30° and 60° angles along with the typical 45° angle.
TrueCut rulers set themselves apart with their rotary cut track built right onto the ruler.
This track works in conjunction with their TrueCut rotary cutter. The cutter has a special groove that seats along a bar on the ruler.
Once you place it on the bar, the rotary cutter will not slip while cutting. For people that have difficulty keeping the rotary blade next to the ruler or have arthritic hands, this ruler is a good choice.
It comes in 6” x 24”, 6 ½” x 24 ½”, 6 ½” x 12 ½”, and several other sizes.
The additional purchase of their rubber grips to place on the back side of the ruler help prevent it from slipping against the fabric.
It also has a unique grid and hole system that allows you to mark the fabric with a pencil or other marking tool before cutting. The large numbers and hashes are easy to see, and it has 30°, 45°, and 60° angle guides.
Fiskars rulers feature a highlighted seam allowance and easy-to-read grid lines. It comes in 6” x 24”.
The numbers are quite large making this ruler easy to read. It also includes broken grid lines for easy visibility of fabric edges.
It also includes cross hatch and 30°, 45° and 60° line indicators for measuring triangle seams. Optional non-slip vinyl feet can be added or removed without damaging the ruler.
They are made of 3mm thick acrylic for lasting durability.
Omnigrid/Omnigrip rulers have a standard quilting grid system along with 30°,45°, and 60° diagonal line marks.
It is primarily used in cutting long strips. It features crosshatch diagonal lines for measuring triangle seams.
The Omnigrip rulers have grips to prevent slipping against the fabric while cutting. They come in 6” x 24” and 6” x12”.
6”x 24” Long Ruler
The purpose of the 6”x 24” ruler is to cut strips of fabric away from larger pieces.
Typically when you purchase fabric, you will buy a half yard or multiple yards. The fabric is folded on the bolt and this folded piece of fabric measures around 21”-22”.
Therefore, the ruler extends a couple of inches past the fold allowing you to see the cutting lines on the mat.
Anything shorter than the fold and you will have to move the ruler along as you try cutting. This will lead to obvious errors while attempting to get a straight cut.
You want to use this ruler to cut strips off the larger piece. Any strips that need cut less than 6” should be measured off the ruler itself and not the mat.
Why do we measure that way? Cutting mats are not known for keeping their accuracy of measurement after repeated use.
Consequently, the strips you cut measuring off the mat may not be completely accurate.
Obviously, if you need to cut strips larger than 6” you must base that measurement off the mat, but every attempt should be made to cut from the ruler first.
Our Long Ruler Recommendations:
Creative Grids ruler – 6” x 24” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Creative Grids ruler – 6 ½” x 24 ½” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
TrueCut ruler- 6” x 24” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
TrueCut ruler – 6 ½” x 24 ½” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Fiskars ruler- 6”x 24” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Omnigrid ruler 6” x 24” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Omnigrip ruler 6½” x 24” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
6” x 12” Short Quilting Ruler
Once you have the long strip cut away from the main fabric, the process of sub-cutting begins.
Most patterns will have you cut pieces that are less than 12” long and 6” wide. The long 6” x 24” ruler is quite cumbersome to make sub-cuts.
When you are cutting several sets of sub cut strips, the smaller ruler is a pleasure to work with and helps maintain accuracy.
Our Short Ruler Recommendations:
Creative Grids ruler 6” x 12” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
TrueCut ruler- 6 ” x 12” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Omnigrip ruler- 6” x 12” =>Click here to read more on Amazon
Creative Grids Stripology Quilt Ruler
With so many patterns today using pre-cut strips that from 1 ½” and 2 ½” wide you need a ruler that can cut several strips accurately and quickly.
This ruler is an impressive 20” wide which means that you can cut a ½ yard of fabric into strips without having to use the 6” x 24”.
If you have several fat quarters that need cut into strips, you can layer them and still maintain accuracy while cutting.
This ruler will also allow you to cut 5” and 10” squares which are the most popular pre-cut sizes in today’s patterns.
The ruler slides easily over the fabric until pressure is applied. At that point, the gripper holds the fabric in place while cutting, eliminating slipping and miss-cuts!
It comes with fully illustrated step by step instructions or scans the QR Code printed on the ruler to view a video demonstration.
Squaring the Quilt Block
What does squaring the block mean?
To square a quilt block means to measure the block for accuracy. Once you have a completed block, it should measure a certain size.
For example, if your pattern calls for your block to finish at 12 ½” square then you would use this ruler to check for accuracy.
If your block measures 11 ½” square, then you must go back and find your mistake.
It may be that your seam allowance was not ¼” and instead of a ½.” Again, quilting is all about accuracy. To have a block that is off 1/8th or ¼” will lead to problems throughout the quilt.
Our Squaring Ruler Recommendations:
Creative Grids Square Up -Available in a variety of sizes. 12 ½” is the most common.
Let’s say that you want to jump right into quilting and want to make a quick quilt block without having to learn a lot of technique.
The most traditional quilt block is the log cabin. It used to be a very time-consuming block to make due to the fact you had to sub-cut each piece several times to make more than one block.
Today, you can make a log cabin block within a few minutes without having to sub-cut each piece. How is that possible? Meet the Log Cabin Ruler/Trim Tool.
Creative Grids Log Cabin Ruler/Trim Tool
The Creative Grids Log Cabin ruler/trim tool allows you to make a 12” Log Cabin block in a matter of minutes.
The secret to doing this lies in the fact that you are using 2 ½” strips to make each log of the block.
The beauty of it is that you do not need to cut them into specific lengths first. Once you have the center square, you sew the strips (logs) down working in a counterclockwise direction.
After adding each round of “logs,” place the appropriate centering squarely on the ruler over the finished center square and trim.
Since each round is squared up before the next set of logs are added, the results are spectacular. The cutting requirements for the center square and the strips are printed right on the ruler.
It is the fastest block to make and easy for a new quilter.
Flying Geese Ruler/Trim Tool
One of the most widely used blocks in quilting is the flying geese block.
For a new quilter, this block can make you want to throw in the towel. It appears simple enough to make as you sew two squares onto one rectangle.
Pattern designers have developed several no-fail methods to make this block, and yet it still is the most difficult to make.
Why is this? It is because the two squares get pressed into a triangle once they are sewn down. Press it wrong, and the fabric stretches the block out of the proper size.
Fortunately, a ruler/trim tool was developed to square up that block every time you make it.
Known as the Wing Clipper by Deb Tucker, this tool ensures accuracy in the completion of the block. It also allows you to create several different sizes flying geese making it very versatile.
More Related Articles:
If you see a pattern you like, and it has flying geese blocks do not hesitate to make it. This ruler/trim tool will help you successfully construct those blocks with accuracy.
Having the right tools for cutting fabric will allow you to become a successful quilter.
It is a hobby that requires accuracy from the very first cut. Without this accuracy, your quilt blocks will never fit together properly.
Quilting rulers are designed to help you each time you cut. Learn how to read your ruler and if you need help ask an experienced quilter.
Quilters love to show new quilters how to do things the right way.
Although the upfront costs may seem high, the long-term benefit of having the proper tools will help you have a pleasurable and fun quilting experience.
Remember to measure twice and cut once, and you will be on your way to creating beautiful quilt blocks.