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What Is a Quilting Ruler?

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  • Written By: Carolyn Micheli
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 August 2014
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Quilting is a rather precise form of sewing, especially when it comes to piecing — or blocking — the top of the quilt. If the fabric pieces are not cut to the correct measurements, they will not fit together properly and the pattern of the quilt top will not turn out as desired. It can be difficult to cut fabric pieces used in quilt blocks with scissors, however. Most quilters prefer to use a rotary cutter and a quilting ruler since these tools allow the quilter to make precise cuts easily. Quilting rulers are usually made of clear acrylic with the standard measurements painted across the ruler, usually resulting in a grid pattern.

Most quilting rulers have a number of different angles painted onto their surface to assist quilters in cutting a variety of shapes. For this reason, quilting rulers come in a wide array of shapes and styles. Most beginning quilters and basic quilt patterns require only a 4 by 12 inch (10.16 by 30.48 cm) rectangular quilting ruler, but square and triangular rulers are common. Smaller 1 by 6 inch (2.54 by 15.24 cm) rulers are frequently used for very small piecework.

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Particularly when attempting to cut larger panels of fabric into smaller quilt block pieces, many quilters experience difficulties with fabric slipping beneath the ruler, even when using a no-slip cutting mat. To solve this problem, many manufacturers of quilting rulers now offer a no-slip version. Similar results can also be obtained by using special quilting tapes designed specifically for use with quilting rulers, cutting mats, and other work surfaces to keep fabric from slipping.

Quilting rulers, rotary cutters, cutting mats, and if needed, invisible quilting tapes can all be purchased at local craft or fabric stores, or online. Online stores usually offer the largest variety and can be very useful if the quilter is looking for a very specific style or an unusually shaped quilting ruler for a specific quilt block pattern, such as the Flying Geese pattern, fan-shaped patterns, or log cabin patterns. Quilting rulers can be one of the more expensive quilting tools used, and prices will vary based on brand and size, so it can be worthwhile to shop around to find good deals. These rulers are a must-have item for most quilters, however, and since they come in so many different sizes and shapes, there is a quilting ruler out there to suit any quilter's needs.

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