Quilting rulers

A selection of quilting rulers

A selection of quilting rulers

We all know that to make a quilt you really only need scissors, fabric, needle and thread and of course a ruler.  When I first started quilting rotary cutters weren’t invented so I either marked with a pencil around a cardboard template or used a special quilting ruler.  These rulers were invaluable as they were marked in inches and all our other rulers were of course in metric.  As the only books available from the library on quilts were written in the USA all the instructions and measurements were in imperial measurements.  Once I had an imperial ruler, quilt making became so much easier.   My first quilting ruler was a locally made acrylic ruler made by Fastpatch and yes they still make rulers and templates.  It was so wonderful to be able to see through the acrylic ruler as my previous attempts with a wooden ruler were hopeless.  Some rulers had special ‘grips’ glued to the reverse and although I love grips on my templates I found them to be a nuisance on my rulers as I wanted to slide the ruler across the fabric to cut more strips.  Of course, before rotary cutters, I used to mark my strips with a pen or pencil and then cut the strips with scissors.

Carols Quilts square ruler

Carols Quilts square ruler

Quilting rulers come in an amazing array of shapes, markings, colours and lengths.  As technology improves laser etched markings are super accurate and won’t rub off as the printed markings on other rulers tend to wear away with use.  Acrylic comes in clear, frosted and colours and I love my fluro yellow ruler as it doesn’t get lost among my fabrics.  My favourite ruler is 6” wide by 24” long.  I can cut border strips and sashings easily, trim up small blocks, and cut any width of strip.  The longer length means you can keep the cutting edge square.  Sometimes, however, if you are trimming up pieced blocks or applique squares then the lovely 12½” x 12½” ruler from Carols Quilts is perfect.  You can get all sizes in square rulers and I keep a selection handy to my cutting table.  Most rulers have a 45 degree marking for half square triangles or mitred corners but triangle rulers make cutting and marking of these angles even easier, no peering at the angle to see if you have it on the line.

A quick browse online or in your favourite quilt shop will amaze you with the myriad of rulers available to quilters today.  What’s your favourite ruler??



Mary has sewn and fabric collected all her life and feels that to combine both in quilting is a real joy. She has been quilting, teaching, pattern writing and selling fabric for the past thirty years and can’t think of a more wonderful and fulfilling creative outlet.


  1. Love the article. It is interesting to read something of the history of quilting. We have so many wonderful tools now 🙂 I think my favourite ruler is 6 1/2 by 15 inches.

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