Challenging the rulers of quilting

I am challenging the rulers of quilting – throwing down the gauntlet, showing them how it’s done – how many ways can I say this?

I’ve started my own challenge: Use as many of my longarm rulers on one quilt. Of course, I modified it from “use all of my rulers”. I felt I was being a bit hard on myself, and very optimistic.

And I’m going without a plan. To be honest, I did try to plan but gave up on the idea. I just couldn’t see it on paper. This seems absurd to some true blue quilters out there. A quilt always needs a plan according to the experts – unless it’s me. I break the rules, do the unconventional, and wing it.

This is a bit of a challenge because I have a lot of rulers, including some of Angela Walters’ and a lot of Handi Quilter’s. If you’re interested, Handi’s rulers are available from Claire at HandiQuilter South Africa and Angela’s I purchased on Amazon. Before lockdown and the economic crash, because who can afford dollars nowadays? And that’s the reason I thought it could be helpful to give you a few tips for starting your own collection of quilting rulers.

Update** Angela’s rulers are now also available from us! Some of Handi’s rulers can also be purchased from us!

Tips for creating a ruler collection:

  1. Start with the essentials – a ditch ruler (if you’re on a longarm), and on a domestic I suggest something with curves like the “waves” rulers from Handiquilter. I think it’s harder to create consistent shapes on a domestic, and the waves will give you S-curves and a longer consistent run of curved lines. I started with the Handi Versa Tool, but now my preferred ditch work ruler is Sid from Angela. I hardly every use the versa tool, as I find the straight edge too short compared to Sid, and it lacks the markings that I find I like to use. **Update: Check out our quilting rulers made right here in South Africa: Tramlines, Keyhole, Boomerang, Making Waves and more to come!
  2. Remember that rulers are intended for consistency, so if you’re comfortable with making a shape, there’s no need to get the ruler. And making a straight line on a longarm machine is much harder than on a domestic machine.
  3. Consider your budget, and availability of the rulers. If you want to order from, assuming you’re in South Africa, look at getting a few at the same time, as it will save you a little bit on the shipping and duties. Rather save a little longer to get that extra ruler.
  4. Don’t get caught by the glamour of having a particular designer’s ruler. Many ruler designers have duplicate shapes, that even though they may be a little smaller, or a little curvier, they achieve the same result. I have been annoyed at some of my own choices because I have some that will do the same thing. To help with this, keep a note of the rulers along with the shapes they create. They usually have a guide of some kind showing you what can be achieved with the ruler, so keep those together and refer to it before you want to buy another one.
  5. Consider the length and shape of the ruler and where your hand will hold onto it, or not. You’ll be surprised how many rulers are too long, in my opinion, to control properly. Others have a weird shape to it that makes it harder to actually get a grip on it e.g. the Big Swiss Cheese ruler takes getting used to.
  6. Creative grids’ rulers have a patented “frosted” bottom strip that holds onto the fabric nicely and reduces slippage. This in turn makes the ruler easier to control. This alone makes them worth the expense – again this is my opinion.
  7. Get the ruler for the purpose it was intended.

Do you have any tips for quilting rulers? What are your favourites? Share it with me in the comments below.

Have a super duper quilting time, and follow me on social to get updates on my quilt. Check out the Quilting with Rulers class to learn how to use straight edge rulers.


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