Rulers, rulers, rulers! & tips for using them.

I have this thing with rulers.  I have LOTS of them.  How many?  This many:


I collected 8 for the picture, but I may have more hiding around here someplace.  There really is a reason to have more than one.  They come in so handy.  As I was cutting a large rectangle the other day, I took some pictures to show just how handy they can be:

Tip 1: Cutting off the raw edge.

ruler tip 1-a

Usually I start off by squaring up the raw edge.  This is my large 6×24 ruler.  The arrow indicates where I want to cut.  But it’s such a pain to lift up the little bit of fabric to make sure the ruler is straight, especially since the ruler shifts in the process.  Enter my little 1×6:

ruler tip 1-b

I can slide the little one up and down to ensure that my large ruler is in the right place before cutting.

Tip 2: The Blind Cut

ruler tip 2-a

I’ve measured to where I want to cut on the other side of the rectangle.  The arrow indicates where I want to cut and the fabric is much longer than my 24-inch long ruler.  This is where lifting the fabric and shifting the fabric can be a real pain.  There’s just too much fabric to lift.  Enter my 2nd 6×24 (B):

ruler tip 2-b

Now I have a way to make sure the first ruler is straight.  See?  Here’s another picture to show the right side of ruler B.

ruler tip 2-c

I can slide this ruler up and down to make sure that ruler A is lined up correctly before cutting.

Tip 3: Making Shortie Longer

For my final cut, Iwant to cut across the bottom, but my ruler is too short.

ruler tip 3 a

See?  It doesn’t quite make it.

ruler tip 3-b

Enter my nifty 6×6.

ruler tip 3-c


Now I can cut it perrrrfectly.

My favorite sizes are the 6×24 and the 4×14.  But really, I use them all quite often.  Does anyone have more quilting/sewing rulers than me?  I think not.  But if you do and you’re the commenter with the most, I will come up with a prize for you!

***Feel free to share about your ruler collection in the comments, but 2 winners with 20 – TWENTY!!!- each have me more than beat!  Send me your snailmail addresses, Charlene and Cory and I’ll get something out to you! ***

60 thoughts on “Rulers, rulers, rulers! & tips for using them.

  1. I may be a little addicted to them.

    I have two 6x24s. I have 2 4x14s, but only because I used one so much that some of the lines were rubbing off and I couldn’t get good measurements

    I have a 6.5 x 6.5 and a 6×6 (because I thought I lost the 6.5×6.5 – I found it again)

    I have a 9.5×9.5 and a 12.5×12.5

    I have a 4.5×4.5 for squaring up Dear Jane blocks.

    I have a 2.5×2.5 because.. well, I don’t know why I have that one.

    I have a 1×6, because it’s handy.

    Let’s not forget the on-point rulers that I have for cutting ends and corners as well as triange trimmers.

    • I count 8 there – so we’re tied! Okay, I’ll agree, it’s an addiction. I look at the rulers too often at JoAnn’s. And I forgot the corner marker! – which I’ve never used. And my easy hemmer – also never used, but it looks like a ruler. Funny!

  2. You definitely have more rulers than me, but now that I see how you’re using them, I may need to buy a few more. I love my 6×24, but I also really love my 15×15 ruler. It’s perfect for making napkins.

  3. I have the front of a quilt done and have been avoiding cutting the back because of this! It’s so cumbersome to work with all of that fabric and it ALWAYS slides around on me! Maybe I can ship it to you and you can cut it for me??? 🙂

    • When I started quilting I found that cutting perfect squares was incredibly difficult! Now it’s just the large sizes I have trouble with. I figure on a big quilt, it won’t be as noticeable. 🙂

  4. I have a bunch, but they’re all for different things–I hadn’t thought to use them in the clever way you mentioned above. In fact, I was so frustrated a few years ago, that I bought the alto quick cutter, so I could have the fabric locked into place and cut once. Overall, it’s mostly fine, but not if you cut more than say a couple yards of stuff at a time. And you have to be careful not to fold the fabric or you have three wrong folds instead of one. I think your ruler idea accomplishes much of the same thing without extra gear. Good job!

  5. I have 9. Which seemed like a lot, but I know now it isn’t.

    I like everyone of your tips. Mainly because that is EXACTLY how I use mine!

    I do have an excuse for extra rulers, I work in both metric and imperial. So I have

    11.5cm square, perfect for little diddy bits from my japanese books

    15.5 x 30.5cm (the .5 comes from them being turn-around rulers)

    and lovely long 15.5 x 60.5cm

    Then I have a 3.5″ x 18.5″. An ommigrid 6″ which I almost never use. A 36″ x 2.5″ (for cutting binding strips!)

    A 60 degree wedge ruler. And a fancy 4 in 4 for fancy HST and things that was cheap in the sale and I don’t know how to use!

    I have an A1 double sided cutting mat, metric/imperial. But have since bought a folding A2 mat for trimming wadding(batting) cos it was leaving fluffy ‘scars’ in my big one and they are ‘spensive!

    Oh and a metric Grade’nRule from my pattern drafting days.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • It requires a brave person to be able to go back and forth between metric and imperial. I would definitely need an extra of everything in cms!

      I get the fluffy scars on my cutting mat also – such a pain to remove. I’ve resorted to cutting smaller pieces with scissors or getting an old cutting mat out for batting. Someone should really invent a mat that avoids that! Thanks for sharing! You’ve got me beat with your 9 rulers, but I think somone below has more.

    • Beth, A lot of the duplicates are because I cut things in 2 places. That, and I am always putting the rulers down and don’t remember where! But it took a few years of having them before I realized how helpful they would be.

  6. It’s so interesting to read all the comments! I bought one ruler when I first started sewing and have been monogamous relationship ever since. I use a 18×5 inch ruler for almost everything. I do have an old t-square I used in drafting class and a county fair yard stick. And I did purchase a 12.5 x 12.5 square for quilt blocks (which I have never used yet). But I do have day dreams of owning larger rulers! And a cutting mat like yours!

    • Monogomous relationship – He he. That’s cute. 🙂 My cutting mat is 36 x 24. Nice size, but if I had the space, I’d go even bigger because I often purchase more than one yard of fabric and it gets hard to maneuver.

  7. Wow, I counted 20. That includes the specialty rulers (2 sets drunkards path, double wedding ring, each set counted as one, etc.), my shape cut, the set of 12.5 to 2.5″ squares, flying geese, x blocks, all of the basic rulers (6X24, 2 6X6’s, 6.5X6.5, 4.5×4.5, 2.5X2.5 2 1X6’s and two custom cut 15.5 and 18.5 squares. I didn’t realize I has so many until now. Take care and God bless, Cory

    • 20? Yikes! You make me feel better. 🙂 I have one other commenter with 20 so right now you ladies are tied. Send me your snail mail and I’ll get a little something off to you!

  8. Pingback: Cutting fabrics with clear acrylic rulers · Sewing @ CraftGossip

  9. Great tips. How do you keep the rulers from shifting around? I only have one, 18 x 3 and an 18 x 24 inch mat. I got a set as a gift years back and I have used it for every project since! I think it’s time for a 6 x 24 inch ruler at least.

    • I don’t have a trick for keeping them from shifting other than a strong hand on the ruler that’s being used. I started off with a smaller mat also, but got a bigger one as I sewed more. It sure was nice to be able to just put that small mat away when I wasn’t using it. My current one sits out all the time.

      • I have had a problem with the ruler shifting too. I lay my hand flat on the ruler (not just fingertips) and have my pinkie and part of my ring finger on the material hopefully keeping the ruler from shifting.

        Also, when using a long ruler, I have my hand on the lower half of the ruler, cut halfway and keeping the cutter in place, move my hand to the top half of the ruler and finish the cut. If you do all of this carefully and smoothly, you can keep everything in line.

        It takes practice to master the cutters and rulers, just keep trying. Take care and God bless, Cory

  10. I don’t have any! I don’t even have a rotary cutter or mat! I just started sewing (when I got a sewing machine for Christmas) and I’m using standard wooden rulers (like for grade school)! 🙂 All your rulers look so cool! I’m so envious! I hope to have at least half of what you have one day! 🙂 And thanks for the tips for when I do get some good rulers!!

    • Hi Jenny, You don’t really need a mat and cutter until you want to cut perfect squares, like in quilting. If you find you love to sew, I’m sure your collection of sewing supplies will grow also. Happy sewing!


  11. I’m not even going to count, because I’m sure I would be horrified. However, my faves are my 8 1/2 by 24 and my 2 1/2 by 18. Of course, I’m sure that I couldn’t live without a lot of my others either. I do use your method of manipulation to get bigger things measured, but get frustrated sometimes because the measurements are sometimes off. I was at JoAnn’s a week ago and saw that they had a 20 inch by 20 inch ruler!!! It’s not something that I would use all of the time, but man there are times it would be a fabulous thing to have.

    • There’s always an excuse to get another ruler, isn’t there?? 🙂 The only one I rarely use is the wavy cuved one. Not sure what I was thinking when I got that one. I think it was on clearance. A ruler on clearance is too tempting!

  12. Oh, golly – too many!

    (in inches)
    1 x 12
    2 1/2 x 2 1/2
    3 1/2 x 3 1/2
    4 1/2 x 4 1/2
    6 1/2 x 6 1/2
    6 x 12 – (2!)
    8 1/2 x 24
    15 x 15
    Flying Geese – no math
    Perfect Piecer
    45 degree star triangle
    Companion Angle
    Easy Angle
    Creative Grid 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees
    Log Cabin Ruler
    Perfect Patchwork Template set of 7

    And, my personalized, one-of-a-kind ruler,
    8 1/2 x 16 – I had my friend shorten a 8 1/2 by 24 ruler, because my sewing room is small.

    Really, I don’t use all of these – my two favorite is a 6 x 12 and the 8 1/2 x 16. The rest are useful, but not utilized much. I too have used these tips for when my rulers just don’t fit. Thanks for sharing them!

    I have found the best ruler for non-slippage is the Olfa Green Ruler. LOVE Those rulers!!!

    I just counted – that would be 20 rulers. Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize I had so many!

    • You are tied with one other commenter for 20! You gals make me feel like I don’t have a problem – he he. Send me your snail mail and I’ll send you a little something in the mail. 🙂

      • Oh, my goodness! I just realized I never thanked you for the “little something in the mail”. 🙂 My daughter loves to steal the apron and wear it around the house (she’s two) and I’m probably going to make a little tote bag for her from the cute fabric you included.

        Thanks for so kindly showing me I have a problem with too many rulers! You’ll be pleased to know I’ve passed a few on to a friend who’s just catching the quilting bug, with my help!

      • You’re welcome, Charlene! I think the first little toolbelt I ever made was for a little girl – complete with yellow and pink flowers. My son loved trying it on for the photo shoot! 🙂

  13. • • • I have two 6×24, two 6.5″ squares, two 4″ squares a 15″ square, a 2.5″ square and a host of assorted triangles and add a quarter, PLUS two construction grade rulers for really long cuts. They are 2″ by 48″ and I couldn’t find a 60″ so I had Dan cut a 72″ one down to the 60″.

    Instead of doing the slide method you showed, I will clean my edge and then do the math to the width I need. For example: if it’s only 18″ then I can use both 6×24’s then move the first one to the other side to equal 18. If its a weird measurement like 20, then I’ll place the first 6×24 at two inches, place the next 6×24 next to it, then just keep moving the previous one to the other side until I reach 20″. Works great for me.

  14. I’m sure you must have heard me saying “So that’s how you do it!”
    more than a few times.
    I only have two rulers and I had no idea how to use them since I don’t sew very much. So I really appreciate all the tips.

  15. I have a 6X24 and a5×24 with a lip on it to hook on my 30x 36 cutting mat. then I have a 17×23 cutting mat and a 6×9 cutting mat. 2 regular rulers with raised numbers for clay work I don’t know how many other regular rulers. A 12.5 x 12.5 square, a 6.5 x 6.5 square
    a 5.5x 5.5 square to make triangles a 4.5×4.5 square and a 6″x6″ square a quilters equilateral triangle, a 6″ triangle. a easy hexagon ruler. a dresdan plate ruler. 2 french curves,a speed draft hexagon and circle ruler. A 5.5″ circle ruler to make circles in quilting. A protrator and a ruler to make hearts and a yard stick and several measuring tapes for sewing and two measuring tapes you use in building. Oh yes a metal 12″ ruler. Thats all I think.( Does a knitting gauge count)( I hope I win I certainly don’t want anyone to think I have a addiction to measuring implimets.

  16. Oh dear, I only have one. I think it’s about 12″ by 5″ and has a 45 degree angle on one end. Oh wait, I do have an old wooden yardstick that I drag out sometimes. I still do the draw on the fabric, then cut out with scissors stuff, though. I sew on a tv tray table, mind and use the floor for drawing out patterns.

    • I go through phases where I prefer scissors to the rotary cutter. When I’m watching TV I often just cut with scissors at the ironing board – that’s been what I’ve been doing lately. I guess it depends on how clean my sewing room table is. 🙂

  17. Oh my goodness! I have been catching up on my blog reading – and it is so funny I came across yours here tonight! I belong to a group of ladies and we meet as a book club. Well, we are meeting at my house this week, and the book we read is “The Color of Water”! Which is my favorite book! I love the spunk of the mom, and the emphasis on education, and faith! And tonight I should be cleaning in preparation, but NOOOOo, I am reading blogs instead. I am afraid there will be a lot of dumping stuff in laundry baskets Wednesday night! And I am also trying to figure out what to serve for either supper or appetizers/desserts that go along with the book! I may have my hubby (who does all the cooking) – make beef stew, cornbread and apple pie, all American fare. Anyway – I could talk about this forever, but the other “odd” thing is that a couple books ago we read “The Glass Castle”! And one of my friend thought the two books were very similar – but I don’t know if I would agree. I will have to think of a way to say this without hurting her feelings.

    Anyway – love your blog – so wish I had time to sew and play with rulers (I don’t really have any – will have to give it a try soon!) but I did use my first rotary scissors (a zig zag pattern) when I made my one and only crafty thing in a long time – my flag banners. It made it a lot easier to do, and I made it so one cut was the edge of two different flags. I always tell myself I can sew when I get my house clean, but that never happens. But I do say “I have vast material wealth”, which always brings a smile to my face!

    Well, maybe I better get one with the cleaning – keep up the good work (and reading!)

    Hugs from Michigan – Diane

    • Thanks for stopping by, Diane! I saw some similarities between the 2 books, but found “Glass Castle” to be much more disturbing. Having to come up with a food theme for the book sounds difficult, but I’m sure you will all have a good time! The boys and I made 3-sided hats after studying Esther a couple of years ago. Apparently they are like the hats that Hamaan wore way back when. They were yummy, jam-filled cookies.

      God bless,


  18. Pingback: Measure Twice Cut Once « My Heritage Fabrics's Blog

  19. i love rulers…i have 12 of them…my favorites are 3×18 and 4×6..use them more than any others i have ..i fold my fabric so i can cut it..i never lay it flat out..have no trouble straightening an edge with my 3×18 ruler..or 6×24 but mostly use the 3 x18..

    i have 3 mats…a 10×17 which i use more than any of the others..a 17×22 which is ok but too big for me..and i have a 5.5×7.5 to take to classes to trim on the spot..

    one of my favorites which i do use a lot is a 2.5 square..i use this mostly for half square triangles..when you make flying geese—unless you are using the fast flying geese pattern—you have the corners left..before i trim them i sew a 1/2 seam from the flying geese and i have a perfect half square triangle for another project or for part of the border depending on the pattern i am i use it a lot to straighten up the edges on that..

    anyway i love my tools..have a weakness for them..somewhere i have angle ones but never use them..there are lines from corner to corner of my square rulers so i use that..much faster to me..

    but then i am always willing to try something new so will get the others out–wherever they may be–and try one..LOL..

    i know that is a very late addition to this thread but you know i just got on here a short time back and i am finding all these fun things to read and i can;t resist commenting..

    • Your comment makes me smile! You are about as crazy happy about sewing tools as I am. I have way many more than I will use this year, but you never know when I might need just the right tool and I’ll have it on hand and not have to run to the store. 🙂 Happy sewing!

  20. Hi craftapple!

    I am enjoying your blog. Your ruler use tutorial is interesting. Do you ever fold your widths of fabric to rotary cut them? Solves the short ruler problem, I think.

    For the slipping and sliding problem, you can purchase small circles that adhere to the bottom of your rulers. They are like sandpaper and grip the fabric so the ruler stays in place. I put them on one of my longer clear rulers and it helps alot. Now my holding hand doesn’t have to work so hard! But I do need a larger cutting board and table.

    I haven’t counted my rulers, but must have 6-8 at least.
    Nice blog and thanks for the tut!

  21. I’ve always liked the 6×24 and think its been kind of the standard quilting ruler. Now every brand also carries a 6.5×24 as well. Would it be any better to get one of these? I can see the extra half inch being useful for seam allowances, is there any thing else you would use this for instead of the normal 6×24?

    • Hmmm…I’m sure there’s a good reason for adding that extra half inch, but I can’t think of what it might be. My feeling is that unless you routinely wish your 6 x 24 was just a bit wider, then it might not be worth the cost. I love those rulers, but they are a bit pricey.

  22. My best ruler is 6″ x 24″ and my best mat is 24″ x 36″

    I do fold fabric to cut and try to have a daughter to help. We have been known to kneel on the long ruler to stop it slipping. My ruler has an antislip (Omnigrip) texture which helps a little 🙂

    I store my large cutting mat behind a dresser to keep it flat to the wall….I’d love to know where other people store theirs!

    Jane x

  23. Hello,
    Glad I found your blog. I have been searching for rulers. I really like clear rulers. I don’t like the metal ones. Do you know length of the longest clear one…I have found one that is 24″ long, but oh how I wish I could find a 36′ clear one with grids for 1/4′ markings. If anyone knows of one, PLEASE let me know. Thanks so much!!

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