In this quick and concise 5 minute guide, you'll learn all about quilting rulers. We're covering our favorite rulers, the best tools for safety and accuracy, supplies for adding guidelines to rulers, and ruler organization. Does that seem like a lot to learn in just 5 minutes? Trust us when we say all the information in our 5 minute guides is short, sweet, and educational!
When we launched our first 5 Minute Guide on Quilting Pins, we were blown away by the response! You loved this quick information format so much that we're planning to do a new guide every month until we run out of topics. Upcoming guides will focus on marking tools, pressing tools, and cutting tools among other topics. (If you have a suggestion, tell us in the comments!)
But today, it's all about quilting rulers! Do you have your timer handy? Ready...set...go!
Pictured above is our favorite rotating cutting mat. We use it every chance we get!
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The Essential Quilting Ruler — 6″ x 24″
Whether you're about to make your first quilt or you've been quilting for decades, this ruler is the best one to have by your side. With a ruler this size, you'll be able to make most of the cuts you need to piece a quilt.
The 6″ width is easy to move and work with and accommodates most cut widths, and the 24″ length means that you'll be able to cut width of fabric (WOF) strips when your fabric is folded in half. And it's great for marking fabric! If you only buy one ruler, make it this one!
This Omnigrid 6″ x 24″ ruler is durable, long-lasting, and non-slip. The ruler has a black grid outlined with a vibrant neon green, meaning that you'll be able to easily see the ruler's markings no matter what fabric you're cutting!
The Essential Square Quilting Ruler — 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″
This might seem like a big ruler if you're new to quilting, but here's what makes this size great. If you need to square up a quilt block, like the Shine block shown above, you'll be able to do large blocks. If your finished block is a square that's smaller than 12 1/2″, you can trim two sides then flip your block around and trim the last two sides down.
The Omnigrid 12 1/2″ square ruler is excellent too! In addition to their neon green rulers (which are their non-slip rulers branded as Omnigrip by Omnigrid), Omnigrid also makes rulers with grid marks outlined in yellow, which provides the same ease in seeing your fabric regardless of what color you're cutting.
Wide Quilting Ruler — 8 1/2″ x 24″
Even though this ruler is only 2 1/2" wider than our essential 6" x 24" ruler, those 2 1/2" make a big difference in quilting. I reach for this ruler a lot when cutting large pieces or even multiple strips.
If you find that 8 1/2" still isn't wide enough for many of your quilting needs, upgrade to an even larger ruler with this 12 1/2" x 24 1/2". It's a little cumbersome, but really nice for squaring up quilt tops. Also, it's called the "Big Easy" which makes me laugh.
Small Square Quilting Ruler — 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″
Big rulers are versatile, but when you're cutting smaller pieces for a quilt, they can be much harder to handle. A good small ruler to add to your collection is a 6 1/2″ square, which you can use to cut small pieces of fabric very easily or even to square up small blocks.
This little ruler is the perfect companion for your smaller cuts!
Easy to Handle Long Ruler — 3″ x 18″
I love having a long but thin rectangular ruler in my collection. Sometimes I need to make a quick cut while I'm at my sewing machine or trim down some fabric I've pieced to a block, and having a long ruler that's super easy to handle is so helpful. I don't often use this ruler when I'm working my way through cutting instructions in a pattern.
But I use this ruler to trim fabric while piecing almost every time I make a quilt and found it particularly helpful when trimming improv shapes in my Shining Star and Shine quilts. This ruler is also my go-to for slicing 4-at-a-time HSTs (shown above) or 8-at-a-time HSTs before I use my HST trimming ruler.
I couldn't imagine my ruler collection without this thin rectangular ruler! But note that a 6″ x 24″ ruler can do everything this can do, so only grab this one if you want similar functionality but something that's easier to move around your cutting mat.
Half Square Triangle Ruler
Many of our most popular patterns use half square triangles in the construction. And with good reason! The HST is one of the most versatile blocks in all of quilting. You'll find HSTs in Triangle Jitters, Summer Haze, Voyage, Gather, and other popular Suzy Quilts patterns. Having a half square triangle ruler in your collection will help you make dozens of HSTs accurately and easily!
There are many options for HST rulers, including the popular Bloc Loc, but our favorite HST ruler is the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer. Why do we love this HST ruler? It allows you to cut a large variety of HSTs with just two rulers (we don't like having too many specialty rulers in our collection!) and it is designed for trimming your HST before pressing which helps speed up a tedious part of the quilting process.
The only other specialty ruler you might want to make Suzy Quilts patterns is a 60-degree triangle ruler. Our Mod Mountains and Perennial patterns use this ruler, but both patterns also come with a template you can print. So only get the ruler if you prefer the feel of cutting against a hard ruler instead of using paper as a template!
The Clearview Triangle 60-Degree Acrylic Ruler is our favorite, but if you would rather skip trimming dog ears, opt for a flat top ruler like this Creative Grids 60 Degree Triangle 8-1/2in Quilt Ruler or the 6 1/2" Fons & Porter one used by Sarah in the Perennial sew along.
The Best Pain Relief and Safety Accessory for Quilting Rulers
Anyone who has ever cut themselves with a rotary cutter will tell you that safety when cutting is incredibly important! This *ahem* handy suction cup handle that can be used on most rulers is a great way to get your fingers out of harm's way while cutting!
And best of all, if you have hand or wrist pain, this ruler accessory can help relieve that by allowing you to focus on applying pressure to your ruler with the strongest parts of your arm instead of through your fingers or wrist. Adding a handle to your ruler also makes it much easier to move around, which can relieve hand pain!
The clean and elegant look of this Dritz Omnigrid Double Suction Cup Ruler Grip makes it visually appealing, but it also has the best suction cups I've used so far (the suction cups on some similar products do not hold for even a few hours after applying the holder to the ruler) and it's the most affordable!
Ruler grips are small stickers you can apply to the bottom of your ruler to prevent the ruler from moving while cutting. Because you are applying pressure to the side of your ruler while cutting with a rotary cutter, it can be easy for that ruler to slip.
This can lead to frustration when fabric is wasted because it's cut incorrectly, or even land you in the hospital if you cut yourself with the rotary cutter. While ruler grips won't make your cuts perfect every single time, they set you up for the best success possible!
Best Quilting Ruler for Repeat Cuts
Do you need to cut approximately 52 million strips for your next quilt pattern? Picking up your ruler over and over and realigning it can be a huge hassle. This is particularly true if you are a quilter with chronic pain. Reducing the repetitive motion of moving and adjusting your ruler can make a big difference. Here's a tool to help!
The Stripology ruler by Creative Grids is a fan favorite for a reason! It may be the biggest ruler on this list, which can be a problem for storage, but it has a loyal following.
If you don't like the sound of a band around your ruler, you can also make the process of aligning your ruler with your fabric easier with a simple piece of tape. Place some tape along the guideline of your ruler so you don't have to search for the guide every time you need to make a cut.
We placed basic masking tape on our rulers to help trim blocks in the Holiday Party pattern.
Washi tape! This tape can be found at almost any store, comes in endless colors and fun prints, is easy to remove with no residue left on your ruler, and is affordable. I love using Rifle Paper Co. washi tape to add a little quilting flair to my ruler!
Washi tape is usually thick, so you'll have to align the edge of the tape with your ruler's guideline. Omnigrid Glow Line Tape is also a great option if you want to add color but still see through the other grid lines under your tape.
Diagonal Seam Tape
Skip the marking and add a ruler to your sewing machine! If you've ever felt like you're making about fifty million billion HSTs, skipping the marking step could be a huge time saver. This clever washi tape creates lines on your sewing machine that extend beyond your fabric so you can line up your blocks and keep the whole block lined up as you sew your seams. Take a look!
Diagonal Seam Tape from Cluck Cluck Sew is accurate and comes off easily, leaving no residue on either the plastic or metal parts of your sewing machine.
Tabletop Quilting Ruler Organizer
Now that you've decided which rulers you want, how do you organize them? Rulers are long and flat and oddly shaped — what a mess! Don't worry, we have some great organization ideas! I personally love organizing my rulers using a tabletop organizer. I keep the organizer right next to my large cutting mat which means I can easily and quickly grab any of my go-to rulers as I'm cutting.
This wooden quilt ruler stand is such a simple organizational solution! At almost 17″ long, it easily accommodates your longest rulers. And it has enough slots to hold almost every ruler included in this guide!
Wall Quilting Ruler Organizer
If you have limited table space or just prefer to organize your rulers vertically on a wall (doesn't everyone have more space on their wall than any table used for quilting anyway?), we've got you covered! Quilting rulers typically come with a small hole towards the top so that they can be hung for storage and you can free up that valuable table space.
Command 3M hooks! These wire hooks seemed like they would work best because the wire looked like it would fit inside a standard quilting ruler hole, so I tried them out myself. I was able to hang 3 rulers from this one hook! There is a risk that they could fall down, but these hooks hold up to 2 pounds, so you should be safe. Using these damage-free hooks means you don't need to make holes in your wall and you can customize your organization. Plus they're super affordable!
Want to store ALL of your threads, cutters, rulers and notions in one place? Try a basic peg board from a hardware store and hooks! I prefer white because it blends with my white walls.
What's Your Favorite Quilting Ruler?
Is your go-to ruler on our list? Or do you have a ruler or accessory you love that you want to tell us about? Let us know in the comments!
Our first 5 Minute Guide was so popular that we've decided to do one every month! Which topics do you want to see us cover in future guides?