Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Collection of Rulers

Someone asked me what kind of rulers I use for quilting and sewing.


A better question would be, what kind do I not have??

I started out with an Olfa rotary cutter, and not surprisingly, an Olfa ruler. The first one I had was long ruler, because when I first began quilting (and thus cutting fabric) I was taught to cut the fabric just as it came off the bolt, that is folded in half, so about 22 inches wide. Very quickly I decided that it worked much better to fold twice, so my next acquisition was a three inch by twelve inch long ruler.

From there it went to a six inch square, and then to a 9 1/2 inch square.

At some point I started taking the quilting seminars at Nancy's Notions, and a whole world opened up before me! I discovered Eleanor Burns, who over-cut things and trimmed them down. Quilt in a Day -- yes, I could do that! I learned lots of short cuts from Eleanor... and Kaye Wood (I started out life as a 'pointless person') and many others.

Let me pause here and say I am a dedicated strip quilter. Yep, a stripper. It NEVER occurred to me to use a quilting template. I once bought an apple core template from Shar Jorgensen because I loved the pattern. Did I ever make one? Nope.

One year I went to a class given by Trudy Hughes. She approached things differently, to say the least. Her background (dad maybe?) was geometry teacher inspired. She said if you measured right, cut it right and sewed it right, there was no trimming down. Being math minded myself, I had to agree. Who wouldn't, right? And it would save TIME if you measured, cut and sewed it right the first time.  She had some rulers that were supposed to help you do this. I bought those too. I still use them. Great combination of markings, one in black and one in white. A great size, small enough to lug around.

Enter Marti Michel and her log cabin rulers. Who needs a ruler for log cabins, right? Oh boy, can I tell you about log cabins I have seen where to blocks ripple when they get bigger because they're stretched when they are sewn? Plus Marti said the lengthwise grain is sturdier so try using that.  So why not cut exact sizes and match ends, rather than sew, cut, sew, cut, oh, don't forget pressing.

I'm sold on those log cabin rulers! You can kit up log cabins and no matter who is doing the sewing, they should come out right every time, barring gross negligence on the seam allowance.

So now that I've come to enjoy using Marti's methods I bought some templates. I have sets A and B and some other miscellaneous templates, mostly the ones that are used with 2 1/2 inch strips. That's the size I try to cut all my leftovers into. Good size for bindings and other random piecing.

The debate is whether yellow lines or white lines or colored lines are better. I say it depends. How's the light in your space? Is it day or night when you're cutting? What color is your fabric?  To quote someone famous, the choice is yours. Use what you like, I promise you the Ruler Police have taken the day off.

 My favorite ruler right now is one that has multiple colors and lots of markings. And I had to replace it recently because I discovered that, even covered with carpeting, a concrete floor and plastic rulers do not make for a happy situation if they accidentally meet at the speed of gravity.

Since I started doing the scrap therapy whereby everything gets cut into predetermined sizes or tossed, I have discovered the joy of small rulers. Really small. I have a 1 inch by six inch, a two and a half inch, and believe it or not I bought a three and a half inch square twice. :-)

I have Olfa rulers, Fons & Porter rulers (love the point trimmer), triangle rulers, a ruler that adds a quarter inch to things, and one with slits where you can cut multiple times without moving either ruler or fabric.

I need to get these rulers organized now. I have a drawer, and one of those wood blocks with slits. I need more of one or the other, or maybe both! I saw some excellent storage ideas the other day. Just have to get down to the sewing room and get organized. Again.

Sew on...