Tips & Tricks

Quilting Rulers – Checkup Time

Quilting should be fun, but sometimes the frustration of a ruined block means you will have another unfinished project.  Maybe it’s not your sewing or machine.  Have you replaced or updated your tools recently? Quilting rulers are one of our basic tools that receive constant use, but may be old and worn.  If you are finding blocks finishing slightly off measure, half-square triangles that won’t fit, or a simple 9-patch block that won’t nest, check your rulers.  Look for chipped corners, worn markings, and wavy edges. Did you know that thin shaves of acrylic can peel off with each rotary pass?do-you-think-its-time-to-retire-this-intage-rulerDoes accuracy matter to you? 

Some quilters can work with 1/8″ differences, others won’t tolerate even a few thread’s shortage.  Most of us are somewhere in between. We’re busy, we’re tired, have deadlines, but we enjoy sewing so we push on. Using the iron to steam the fabric into [any] shape does work to some degree, as does fitting with sashing. Sometimes it is worth basting and resewing many times to get that pinwheel center perfect. However, wouldn’t it be a very simple solution to just start with a good ruler and place it correctly and consistently for perfect patchwork every time?


Is there a better ruler for the job?

All of the above will work to measure fabric pieces, but when things start to go wrong, these old tools aren’t going to help with the rescue. There may be a newer version, too, that will work better for you. Instead of handling a large 12 1/2″ bulky square to trim small triangles, pick up a  smaller, 4 1/2″ or 6″ square-up ruler and see if it makes a difference.  Line up the angled line, then look right over top/straight down on the ruler to make the cut. For cutting borders, look at some of the 24″ long, x 8 1/2″ wide giants.


Is ‘close’ what you are after?

Remember to use the ruler, not the cutting mat, to make your cuts. The lines on the mat are printed wide, and over time will get grooves cut into them.   Whether you are a competition quilter or making a few throws for yourself, you will be happier while you cut and sew when you are successful with each block. Maybe it’s time for a ruler check up. Beautiful fabric is expensive, so measure twice and cut once –  accurately!  Plan a shopping trip online or to your favorite quilt shop soon!


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