If you are a newbie quilter, you may be wondering what size rulers you need to get started. Just one look down the aisle at your favorite quilt shop, and you are bombarded with choices. Long, short, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, circle – where do you begin? The good news is you do not need to have a bunch of different rulers to begin your project. Quilting rulers are made to cut multiple shapes, but you will find that just a few rulers are all you need to get started.
5 inch x 24 inch ruler – If you can only afford one ruler, this is the best size to have. This ruler is large and easy to handle. It has multiple markings for straight cuts, as well as diagonal cutting. It’s long enough that you can cut a wide piece of fabric, and line it up with the markings on your cutting mat. If your pattern calls for a charm squares (5 inch squares), this ruler makes cutting 5 inch squares from yardage a breeze. The 24 inch ruler comes in different widths, but I find the 5 inch width to be my personal favorite.
Triangle ruler – This is used to cut triangles. Triangle rulers come in multiple widths and heights and varying degrees. My personal favorite is the 45 degree ruler. Once you have cut triangles, you can form other shapes depending on how you sew your triangle pieces together. For instance, you can sew two triangles together to make a squares, larger triangle, diamonds and octagons.
2 ½ inch ruler – A lot of patterns call for jelly roll strips. Jelly roll strips measure 2 ½ inches wide. But what if you don’t have a jelly roll? Never fear, if you have a 2 ½ inch ruler you can easily cut your own strips from fabric yardage. This can be more economical than purchasing an entire jelly roll which has 42 strips. 2 ½ inches is also a popular size for sashing strips and quilt binding.
Square ruler. There are so many different sizes of square rulers, it can be intimidating trying to pick the right size. However, if you are just starting out, I recommend a 9 inch square ruler. Square rulers are commonly used to “square up” quilt blocks. In other words, after you have sewn your block together, you may need to trim it on all 4 sides to make sure it’s completely square. Using the square ruler makes light work of trimming your blocks to size. Square rulers have multiple hash markings and diagonal lines that come in handy when trimming half square triangles You can align the seam with the diagonal marking on the ruler. Let’s say you have a 6 inch, half square triangle, but the pattern calls for a finished size of 5 inches. You will need to trim the block by 1 inch. Using your square ruler, it is easy to trim a quarter inch from all four sides of your block.
Parting words . . . make sure the markings are easy for you to read. Some rulers have numbers at each quarter inch mark, while others have numbers at the inch marks. It’s important that the ruler you choose makes sense to your brain. Nothing is more frustrating than beginning a project, and you have to stare at the ruler a while to understand the markings. As you develop your quilting skills, you will acquire multiple rulers in various sizes. But the rulers mentioned in this article will help you get started.