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
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, Mayan Mosaic, Warrior and, coming out on April 27th, 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! 🙂