Recently an ex-colleague asked me what she needed to start making quilts. An idea, a rotary cutter and a ruler, was my first reply. But of course, which ruler? Some of us use a 6×24” to cut bolt widths and strips. Others may only use shapes. Some use their mat as a starting point: others measure only using the ruler. Some may use scissors.
I have collected a number of rulers over the years, and the most useful one is my June Tailor strip ruler which I bought at a quilt show for a pretty good price: £25.99 or £34.99. I don’t remember exactly. It may seem a lot, but I never waste fabric now, so…
I find that if I use my mat and ruler to measure, my fabric moves,and has to be realigned so cutting multiple strips is tedious with a straight ruler. Or I cut twice because my blade may be not very sharp, and the cut can move a fraction. With the strip ruler, the weight holds the fabric steady whether I want to cut strips or blocks, which I do by turning it sideways. The fabric stays still. Though I have to check carefully to see where the cut line is! I have cut up to 8 layers this way.
It has 45 and 60 degrees marked, as well as bold black parallel lines, so, nice and clear if you then want to cut blocks or geometrics! For me, cutting is easier and quicker this way. At my quilt group, when I was using this, the secretary was so impressed, she bought one for the group!
A downside is that you have to extra careful to “measure twice, cut once “ as the cut lines are invisible. Using a marker or keeping your finger near the line helps. Another issue some people find is “elbows” where the fold comes, because the beginning of the cut line is wider to position your cutter.. To avoid this I either use the first black line as my fold marker, so the wider opening is below the fabric, or if I am using the top of the fabric as the straight line, I cut to the bottom then slide the ruler VERY gently down and cut the last section to avoid the teardrop shape. (I only use this for positioning the blade).
I did buy a Dritz ruler for measuring small increments of 1/4”, 1/2” and 5/8” in an early stage of quilting, but I rarely use it as the slits are too wide to be accurate enough for precision cutting for me. You may feel differently.
( In the photo below, it is the blue ruler, but I have placed it over a standard ruler to show the slits.)