When you’re not a quilter, rulers are just this thing that takes up space in the back of your widest desk drawer. Behind all the random pens and batteries, you probably have one floating around that you use sometimes to reach things that get stuck underneath the refrigerator. Amiright?
And then, you become a quilter, and your life changes. And so does your relationship with rulers. Rulers are no longer just tools, but treasures. I know you know what I’m talking about.
After becoming a quilter, I quickly moved past that phase of quilting life where I was like “I don’t need any specialty tools!” and discovered that having a collection of quilting rulers is really, really amazing. I love my rulers. Sometimes, I’m tempted to name them and write them each birthday cards.
Here are some of the Best Quilting Rulers that will help you Rule the Quilting World! Clever, eh?
Best Quilting Rulers: The Basics
6" x 24"
If you own just one ruler, you need to own a standard 6” x 24” clear, plastic ruler. This ruler was my first, and we’ve stayed besties ever since. It's the only thing you need to cut strips from yardage, trim up a quilt or slice large quilt blocks. I use the Omnigrid ruler seen here and I can't recommend it enough.
A close second favorite is the 6” x 12”, which also has a permanent place in my heart and on my cutting table. This ruler works better for cutting with paper templates or working with smaller pieces of fabric.
Basic buy number three – 8 ½” x 24” ruler. I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that just 2" different than the first ruler?"
Yes, but in quilting, 2" makes a big difference. When you’re using a lot of yardage for your patterns, having a large ruler gives you much more accuracy, and makes you feel like a boss. You can also use this ruler to square up your quilts.
Last on my list of basics is a good one. So good, you should treat yourself to a 4-pack: square rulers. Y’all know we work with squares all the time, so a square ruler just makes sense. Four square rulers make even more sense.
Once you have taken care of the fab four up there, put some serious thought into investing in some specialty block rulers. Seriously. They make things so much easier, and will up your status from newbie to pro in no time. Here’s my advice:
- 60° Triangle Ruler - Depending on the quilts you are making, you may never need this or you may use it all the time. I’m a use-it-all-the-timer myself. This ruler is a leading cast member in a few of my quilt patterns, including: Minimal Triangles, Mosaic and Hexie Stripe.
- Block-Sized Square Rulers - I recommend using a square ruler the same size as your unfinished quilt block. Does that make sense? Let me give you an example: if your quilt makes an unfinished block that is 6 ½", like the Kris Kross quilt pattern, trimming is much faster and more accurate if you have a 6 ½" square ruler. If you already bought the 4-pack listed above, you're set. However, another square ruler I pick up a lot is my 12 ½" square Omnigrid and on my To-Buy list is a 15 ½".
I won’t be offended if you don’t take my exact recommendations for all of these often-used rulers, but make sure you get a sturdy, easy-to-use brand that will hold up against all of your many measurings (we’ll talk brands in just a minute.)
The above Pantone quilt starts with two charm packs. Once I sew triangles to each 5" pre-cut square, I then use my 4 ½" square ruler to square off each block. Without that unfinished-block-sized ruler, this quilt would go from a quickie finish to a long term project. Rulers make aaaaall the difference.
The shot cotton I used gives the quilt that extra soft and squishy look (in case you were wondering).
Really Cool Extras a.k.a. Your New Christmas List
Rulers, just like crafters, love to accessorize. Treat yourself, and your ruler posse, to some great extras that will really complete your quilting outfit.
- Stripology Ruler - This baby is a thing of beauty. The Stripology ruler helps you slice multiple strips really quickly. Who doesn’t want to take some of the complication out of cutting? You simply line up this ruler on your folded yardage and...slice, slice, SLICE! Très satisfaisant !
- Ruler Rack - Once you start growing your ruler family, you are faced with a couple of choices: having a drawer or desktop area cluttered with a pile of clear sheets of measuring tools so that you can never find what you’re looking and when you do find it it is the very last one at the bottom of the pile… or… get a handy dandy ruler rack! It’s a no brainer, people. Ruler racks free up your workspace, and also keep your rulers from being scratched and faded.
- Ruler Gripper - Not only does this one look a lot like the cool purple phone I used to have in my Jr. High bedroom, but it also helps you ergonomically grip rulers. If you have any kind of shoulder or wrist pain/fatigue from putting pressure on a ruler while cutting fabric, this will help to alleviate that. It also will take all of the risk factor out of cutting off a finger while wielding that scary pizza cutter we call a rotary blade.
Best Quilting Rulers: Real Talk about Brands
I know there’s a lot of die-hard brand loyalists out there, but I’m just going to come out and say that you should use the brand that’s right for you, even if that means “dating” around a bit (or just online dating… also known as drooling over quilting websites.)
Personally, I love Omnigrip/Omnigrid rulers, because I like how the units are labeled. Black and neon yellow is a great combo for my eyes, and after 16 years of quilting, I’ve never had a ruler fade. Them are pretty good stats.
I like Omnigrip because of the non-slip pads on the back, but here’s a quick tip: if and when I pick up an Omnigrid ruler, I buy my own grip pads to stick on the back! It works like a charm!
Now, I’m willing to bet that there are many brands that hold up just as well as Omnigrip and Omnigrid, so definitely follow your heart and learn from experience when it comes to building your ruler stash. I will say, though, that having the same brand throughout a project can be really helpful, and your brain will like the marking consistency.
I would love to hear about all of your go-to rulers and favorite brands! Not everyone understands the extreme excitement of measurement, but quilters do! And if you want to see a low budge video of me doing a cutting tutorial, click below! 🙂
48 thoughts on “The 4 Best Quilting Rulers”
I love Creative Grids rulers the most. Those non-slip dots on the back mean I have far fewer problems with slippage!
Creative grids is mr very favorite also
I was taught to do whatever is easier and to be honest I do it the same way Suzy, so I guess I’m just as naughty as you ☺. I absolutely love your work and look forward to the next instalment
One ruler size I use frequently that I never thought I would: a 12″ by 1.1/4″. SO HANDY for small cuts!
Thanks for all your reviews, Suzy. It’s a great site!
I’ve had a problem with ruler slippage since the beginning of time! I have several Omnis, and tried their grip tape (among other options). Then I found the Olfa frosted line. They have just enough drag to help with most of my cutting now. The Olfa coloring is much less vibrant than the Omni (black lines instead of neon), which I wasn’t so sure of at first, but the frosted backing makes the lines pop no matter what color your fabric underneath. The only use I have for the Omnis now is if I need to line up something in the fabric patterning and need complete transparency.
A tip for preventing slippage from Donna Jordan of Jordan Fabrics is to lay a hand weight on top of the ruler (you know the small ones you got to tone up your arm flab, Ha Ha). I find this especially useful for those long WOF cuts with the 24” ruler.
Suzy Quilts…oh my I stumbled across your site and have been sitting here Christmas morning reading word for word. Love all your straight forward advise. Yes I signed up for your newsletter & can’t wait to read more. Yes the weight trick Ellen above writes about from Jordan Fabric was one of those “Oh My Gosh” moments -so simple but what a life changer.
I’ve read that painting white glue on the back of a ruler will keep it from slipping when cutting yardage. The author said the glue drys clear and keeps a ruler from slipping. Has anyone tried this? If so, what is your experience?
I’m suspicious…When glue dries it’s hard and slick, not tacky. I wonder how that would help a ruler from slipping?
I guess its the same theory as those tiny sockets that have little lines at the heal to stop them from slipping down under your foot?
A schmear of clear silicone caulk should do the job to hold a ruler in place. Make sure you let it dry completely over a few days if you can. There are also clear silicone tapes you can get, but they are a bit thick. Either way, you should also be able to peel it off. Alternately, rubber cement thoroughly dried is another potential option. You may want to test either of these on a less favored plexiglass ruler to make certain they are non-marking. However, since many tubs, sinks, and windows have plexiglass components, a silicone caulk is likely to be very plexi-friendly.
Try Ultragrid Rulers they are all nonslip rulers made by QuiltCut
I agree! Donna’s tip has been the best for me. No more ruler wandering around!
I love creative grid rulers for the non-slip feature but the ruler I use the most is my Omni 2 1/2″ x 18″. It’s perfect for cutting binding, sashing and marking quilts.
Thanks for sharing! I don’t have the wider of the 24″ ones. I can see why it’d be nice to have something a bit wider. 🙂
OK, question that really doesn’t have much to do with rulers (or at all really), but involves your pantone quilt. I am a newbie to sewing/quilting. I have been washing every bit of yardage I buy, then I saw this quilt last week, and how do I wash charm squares? Do you wash any of your fabric? Does any of the modern quilters on instagram prewash? Or are the quilts even washed ever? I have seen how much some fabric shrinks first hand, but I wonder if many quilts I see online aren’t just for display only. Should I just sew and square up these squares and skip trying to even soak them? I would much appreciate your input.
Hey Frankie, these are great questions. To answer your first one, no, I do not pre-wash charm packs. I actually never pre-wash pre-cut bundled fabric because the amount of shrinkage may damage such a small cut of fabric – especially a 5″ square. I used to pre-wash all new fabric, but over the years have become more selective with what I pre-wash. My rule of thumb now is: If the fabric is a saturated color that could bleed, I pre-wash it with hot water and a color catching sheet. (In my experience most store-bought manufactured fabric does not bleed, however, most woven fabric does. For example, Loominous by Anna Maria Horner.)
For the most part, pre-washing quilting cotton is never a bad idea. I only stopped doing it because I don’t want to take the time or I forget to pre-wash and then I get the urge to use it and it’s too late. 😉
Your last question – washing quilts. Typically I sell or gift quilts unwashed, but accompanied with washing instructions. That includes: wash the quilt in cold water and either dry on delicate or hang dry.
and you can throw a color catcher in with the first wash (gift it with the card that you give with the quilt & washing instructions). That’s what my favorite long-armer sends me when she returns my quilts!
I traded my Omnigrid rulers for Creative Grid. Having a ruler without the 1/2″ extra width (4 1/2″, 6 1/2″, 12 1/2″) for an unfinished cutting size is a deal breaker for me.
After watching hours upon hours of Jenny, I bought a 5″ ruler, great for cutting 10″ pre-cuts in half. And a 2 1/2″ for cutting 5″ pre-cuts. I love both and I love pre-cuts!
Suzy, you are a hoot!!!! Even if I didn’t quilt, I would subscribe to your site just for the entertainment!!!!!
Your Simple and Elegant tablerunner, the one that’s quilted, looks like it was done by my Sashiko machine! If you are not familiar with it, check it out!!!! It’s an AWESOME machine.
Oh, and I like the Creative Grids rulers (in every configuration) but they came on the market AFTER I had accumulated many others!!!
I have one Frosted Omni Grid Ruler! I love it! most of my rulers are the neon yellow and black, but there are times when the Frosted ruler is really needed for certain colors. I Plan on getting more!
I love Omnigrid rulers, too. I’ve very happily used them in making garment patterns for years and years. They are my friends. Just started quilting this summer, and have found that Quilter’s Select rulers are suiting my fancy. They don’s slide on the fabric quite as easily, which is a good thing for me. I should probably analyze how I can improve my technique in terms of the angle of force I’m applying. Hhhmmmm….. But, heck, the QS rulers are being a big help.
I was introduced to quilters select rulers last fall. I love it. It doesn’t slip. I also have a Omni grid rulers and squares.
Quilters Select! Do not slide and have very fine lines for accurate measurements!
I still have my OmniGrid O’lipfa which has the lip on the bottom ledge to hook to your mat–purchased when I started sewing (not quilting) more than 30 years ago. Dug them out, and they still work beautifully. I’m partial to Omnigrid only because I’ve not used other brands. When I cut, I developed for myself long ago the two ruler method–and see that it is a “thing”. It keeps me from having to move fabric. I keep my O’lipfa as the cutting edge (right) and slide another ruler in from the right and line it up with the right edge of the fabric. Butt my O’lipfa against it, and I have a perfect cut. Many methods with the same objective…just find the methods and tools that you are comfortable with. Thanks for your great content here.
Oh my, I don’t understand it, Omnigrid?! They are the worst rulers, I bought one and never again. Too many lines, could not focus and find where I wanted to measure, just plain awful.
I want to make an oval coffee table runner but haven’t come across a pattern. Table measures 48” x 32”. Any suggestions how I can do this …. I am a new quilter.
I suggest using any quilt pattern that you like and then once the entire quilt is quilted trim it down to the oval size you want. Finish the edges with bias binding – https://suzyquilts.com/whats-special-bias-binding/
A good 6 x 24 inch ruler for cutting yardage is a must, but my favorite is the Omnigrip 3 x 9 inch ruler. I have two of them and keep one with my sewing machine and the other with my cutting mats. They are so handy and easy to use. I use them more than any other ruler.
Suzy, Hi! I got for myself Cricut Marker and then Sewing Machine.
Never sew nor quilt. Now sewing and quilting are using acrylic rulers. Acrylic rulers is best for a new beginner to learn, easy read, and understand? And the first rulers to start with?
Yes, you definitely want to buy an acrylic ruler if you plan on quilting. They make cutting much faster and more accurate. If you only want to buy one ruler, I suggest a basic 6″ x 24″ – https://suzyquilts.com/shop/omnigrip-6-x-24-non-slip-quilters-ruler/
Reading the comments have me an idea! I had two hip replacement surgeries last year so I bought a couple of those suction cup hang grips for the bathtub. I don’t need them any.it’s but I can repurpose them as ruled grips! Thanks for the inspiration everyone and thanks Suzy for your wonderful blog. Love it
I must admit I got absolutely addicted to your blog! I am at the very beginning of my quilting adventure (just made my first pinwheel, yeah!) and I’m soaking up all the knowledge and experience you are sharing. I’m super excited 🙂
I am starting to gather basic tools and I have a question about rulers – do you think it’s better to get those with an additional 1/2″ or not, and why?
Thank you for all the great content!
What’s that strange old phrase? Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Basically, both options are great and the difference won’t matter much when your cutting. 😉
I no longer buy any ruler (unless I really really have to resort to) that has an extra 1/2” on one side. I have cut the smaller size too often because I am not very careful.
I have a 8×14” ruler by Fons and Porter, from JoAnn’s, that I use more that anything else. The size is just right for holding down most fabric sizes. In fact, I have a backup at all times for when I accidentally chip it along an edge. See, not very careful!
I have a stripology ruler. I love it. Great for cutting those strips. What an investment and invention
Nobody has mentioned Quilters Select Rulers- they are hands down the best!!
I agree! Love Quilters Select!
I would add Antler Designs Simple Folded Corners Ruler as a must have (large). It has the best 45 degree markings on it that allow you to perfectly trim flying geese, do bias trip diagonal trims (though I use the CG folded corner trimmer due to size and maneuverability).
P. S. Dish racks make great ruler racks.
as do acrylic file sorters!
The bulk of my rulers are from MSQC but now i am really loving Quilters Select. My first one, i hated it. Could NOT get it to slide across the fabric!!! Now i love them. Easy to read, don’t slip when i am cutting. I need some smaller sizes of them now. I also use the weight on the end of the 24”..
My first ruler was the Fiskars 6×24 that comes in the kit with a mat and rotary cutter. I then started collecting Omnigrid rulers, feeling they are superior. As my skills have improved, the difference between the two has become a deal breaker – the quarter inch on one is not the same as the other. And, as I have gotten older, the Omnigrid products are just too hard on my eyes. I am getting ready to order my first Creative Grid rulers; a google search comparing the three lead me to this blog post and extremely helpful comments. (As much as I respect and have learned from Alex Anderson, the Quilter’s Select rulers look too much like the Omnigrid products, so I’ll pass.)
I don’t understand the fascination with Omnigrid rulers, they are so hard to read with all those yellow lines. I prefer a sharp, black line, which is why I will never buy anything but Creative Grids rulers in the future. Most of my rulers are by companies that no longer make them – EZ Quilting, Salem Mfg., I hope they never wear out.
Everyone definitely has their own opinion, and we love that! We love Omnigrid rulers because the black lines are highlighted, like highlighting a passage in a book. Makes it easy to see on both dark and light fabrics! But we’re so happy you’ve found rulers you love, I hope they last a lifetime 🙂
Your blog post has had my attention since I found it, what a fountain of great information! I bought a stripology ruler after my second quilt and it was the best investment I ever made since starting quilting and I’m still a beginner. The first few acrylic rulers I bought were Fiskars brand and I don’t recommend, the lines are hard to line up because there’s a white line outside the black lines, perhaps it’s user error but a ruler should be easy to use. Love reading the comments to see what people’s experience has been