By Edie McGinnis
Like most quilters, I am always looking for a way to make my quilting life a tad easier. Much of the time, the path to ease and accuracy is paved with rulers. At least it seems that way when I see a new ruler demonstrated.
When I watch someone demonstrate a new ruler and how much time it can save, I usually buy into the spiel and convince myself that I don’t just want that new ruler – I need it. I open my billfold, extract cash and off I go with my new must-have tool in hand.
Then I get home. I toss the new ruler in the rack or at least onto my cutting table with the intention of getting right on that new project, which is now going to be oh, so easy and quick.
Then reality usually strikes, and my balloon lands abruptly when I see the project I am already working on waiting for me by my sewing machine. I think to myself, “OK, OK, as soon as I get all of these blocks finished, I’m going to try out that ruler.”
The ruler gets shoved out of my way whenever I have to cut a few more basic squares or triangles. Soon it lands in a drawer or the back of the ruler rack. Once in the drawer, it is the old out-of-sight, out-of-mind trick. Hard telling when the ruler will see the light of day once it is no longer in plain sight.
I’ve had rulers that I’ve put away for such a long time that I’ve forgotten what all the hype was about. Those always seem to be the ones that I’ve lost the instructions for as well. When that happens, Google again reminds me that it’s one of my best friends.
I have found some specialty rulers downright unfriendly when it came to using them. I have two rulers that are so awful that I cannot explain what possessed me to buy them. Every time I look at them, I am mystified as to what could have possibly been going through my mind at the time.
I do believe that I could whittle the ruler collection down quite nicely and make quilts for the rest of my days by keeping only the rulers I consider essential. Those are the ones I would recommend to a quilter who was just beginning to buy her tools.
The rulers I don’t want to live without are:
- 8 1/2” x 24” rectangle
- 6 1/2” x 24” rectangle
- 3 1/2” x 18” rectangle
- 2 1/2” x 36 1/2” rectangle
- 6 1/2” square
- 14 1/2” square
- 60-degree triangle
- Add-A-Quarter (for paper piecing)
I like having some smaller rulers for trimming purposes, but I could live without them, if necessary.
When I buy a ruler, even if it’s one that gets shoved in a drawer and never used, I want the measurements marked very clearly. I want to be able to see them easily, no matter what color fabric I am cutting.
I also want a ruler that can be positioned easily but is not so slippery that I can’t keep it in place while I cut. I find it so annoying to have my ruler slip while I’m cutting, and it always seems to happen when I’m about three-fourths of the way across the width of my fabric.
One of my goals for this coming year is to pare down my plethora of quilting supplies. After looking at all of my rulers, that might be the perfect place to start.
Edie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.