My Favorite Rulers
Updated: Oct 24, 2021
I have a few dozen rulers - for cutting, measuring, quilting, and templates - but here's my favorite 10 and why!
Before I get into my list, I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you to shop your local, small business quilt shops first, before you go to a big box store or order online. Often times if they don't carry the ruler - or any specific ruler you're looking for - they can special order it for you. Especially in these times, I believe we need to support our small business owners where we can. That said, links are included to the makers or other online stores for convenience and more information. Please note, these are not affiliate links; I do not receive any money if you click these links and/or purchase these rulers.
Let's get to the list! I've ordered my rulers in what I believe is the most used to most specialized. I know that rulers can get expensive, and I would never tell a beginning quilter to go out and buy a bunch right off the bat, but these first few are my work horses in my ruler arsenal. (A Disclaimer because I've seen rulers returned to stores... please use cutting mats and a level surface when using any ruler to cut fabric.)
1. 5 to 6 inch (ish) square ruler
I use this small fella for quick trims by the sewing machine. The small size easily fits my hand and it's quick to grab and trim dog ears. I recommend picking one with a diagonal middle line to help with squaring up Half Square Triangles. Omnigrip, Creative Grid, Missouri Star and many more all have versions of this size ruler.
2. 5" by 15" ruler
This is the second ruler I recommend to new quilters, and I use it daily when piecing. You want something that's a little longer than 12 inches, a popular block size. I use a Missouri Star 5" by 15" inch ruler. I like having something just a little bigger than 12", but not so huge that it's inconvenient to take to classes or sew days. I have a longer ruler - 5" by 20" - but I grab this one more often. Again, all the big name ruler companies have variations. Find your favorite. I probably use this ruler the most along with the 5 inch ruler.
3. Fiskars Rotary Cutter and Ruler Combo, 6" by 24"
Okay, so this guy is a little more expensive but hear me out! With the rotary blade securely attached to it, this ruler is great for making binding or any size up to 6 inch strips. You don't have to worry about holding the blade against the ruler edge, which means no accidentally cutting yourself. And it's long enough to cut the folded 42 inch bolts of fabric. The blade extends deep enough to square up quilts cutting through all layers and batting. And it uses the same 45 mm blades that you use in your hand rotary cutter, so no special blades required. I was first introduced to this a quilt shop I worked at; the store only used these rulers to cut their fabric. It made cutting fabric quick and accurate; great for those big sale days!
"Great for beginners, the unique design of this tool makes perfect cuts through fabric a breeze .... grid that is printed on both sides for right- or left-handed use, plus highlighted numbers for excellent visibility on light or dark fabric."
4. A Really big ruler
... for squaring up quilts, with at least one 90 degree corner - whatever you can afford. I have a couple different rulers that fit this definition; and I typically use them mostly when I'm squaring up big blocks (+12 inches) or squaring up the finished quilt, pre-binding. They're also very handy to have when/if you choose to "block" a quilt for a quilt show or exhibition. There's a great 20 1/2" square by Creative Grid.
Okay, so now we're getting into more specific-use rulers. They're not used daily, but still pretty often.
5. Edge Sharpening Rulers
This ruler is kind of a novelty, but does help extend the life of your blade a little. One edge of the ruler has a diamond carbide edge to sharpen the rotary blade as you use it. I break this guy out when my blade starts getting a bit rough, or has a nick in it, and use it in place of my small ruler for quick trims, or cutting off dog ears.
6. Quilter's Rule Quick Quarter 12" Ruler
I use this ruler for marking seams - think no waste Half Square Triangles or no waste flying geese. There are several versions similar to this one out on the market. Some have the center dash line, and some don't. I personally prefer drawing the three lines when I'm making HSTs.
These next few rulers are pattern/designer specific. Enjoy!
7. Creative Grids 60 Degree Diamond Ruler by Krista Moser
Now I know what you're thinking when you see a shape like this; it's only going to get used rarely, right? Wrong! This ruler is truly multifunctional! The ingenious design of this ruler includes instructions to make triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, and hexagons along with the diamond shape.
"Cut 60-degree diamonds up to 8½ inches; hexies up to 8½ inches; and 60-degree triangles up to 8½ inches. Maximize the design potential by cutting them from strip sets. There are even markings included to cut 120-degree side-setting triangles."
Great usage video on her site; also see the new Mini-Diamond ruler.
8. Quick Curve Ruler
If you want an easy tool to get started in the world for curves, then you need to check out Sew Kind of Wonderful's Quick Curve rulers. This ruler and easy to follow instructions make curves an absolute no-brainer. The best part is your blade sits in a slot in the acrylic ruler; so there's no going off-track or fear of cutting yourself. Brilliant! They even offer TONS of patterns to show how versatile these rulers are. Each of their rulers even come with a free pattern to get you started.
9. Add a 1/4" Plus Ruler
I LOVE paper-piecing; and this ruler is an absolute must for anyone serious about paper piecing. It makes trimming away the extra fabric a breeze, while maintaining a perfect 1/4" seam allowance. It makes the paper piecing process quick and easy.
Okay, so this last one isn't technically a quilting ruler; it's more of a sewing notion but I use it all the time!
10. Sewing Gauge
The sewing gauge is typically considered more a sewing notion, but it's a really great tool to check seam allowance and smaller pieces to ensure size accuracy. It's 6 inches long, used for measuring short spaces. It has a metal scale, marked in both inches and centimeters with a sliding pointer, similar in use to a caliper. You can find these at all the big box stores and even some convenient stores near their sewing accessories.
There you go - my top 10 favorite rulers ... not that this is the whole ruler collection... that's a future blog post. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know. For now though, I gotta get back to the lab!
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