Without a trusty ruler – or set of rulers – to help achieve straight seams, perfect points and utmost accuracy, a quilter is stuck before they’ve even started. Luckily for us, there’s a whole world of innovative designs out there to help with any quilt block you can think of.
They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are straightforward, others curious, many multi-purpose and several specialised, so sometimes it’s hard to know what we really need in our workspace.
Read on to discover our top 12 quilting rulers – everyday, specific and machine quilting rulers – to ensure that you’re set with everything you need to know before adding to your family of rulers.
Best Creative Grids quilting rulers
- 16½ Inch x 16½ Inch Square
- 6½ Inch x 6½ Inch Square Ruler
- 1½ inch x 6½ Inch Ruler
- 6½ Inch x 24½ Inch Ruler
- Bias Binding Simplified Ruler 2½ inch and 2¼ inch width
- Circle Savvy Ruler
Best Creative Grids quilting rulers
Creative Grids Non-slip 16½ Inch x 16½ Inch Square
Best for beginners No quilter’s toolkit is complete without some square rulers. There are so many available but a 16½in square is large enough to cover the most common block sizes, so it has the ideal dimensions for a larger ruler. It can take care of everything up to that size in 1/8in increments, and it’s not often I find I need anything larger.
This ruler is especially handy for trimming finished blocks, cutting setting triangles, larger squares for clever bulk piecing of HSTs and Flying Geese, and squaring the corners of your finished quilt. The Turn-a-Round markings are especially useful at this size and shape as you can rotate the ruler as needed and still read the measurements with ease. One side features black on white numbers in full inches with a ¼in grip side, and the other has white on black with a ½in grip side, to quickly and easily add seam allowances at a glance.
6½ Inch x 24½ Inch Rectangle Ruler
This is a great all-rounder, and a real workhorse on my cutting mat. It was the first ruler I ever purchased and is the ruler I find I reach for most often when I’m working, even now. It is an excellent tool at the start of a project when large pieces of yardage require cutting into strips and large blocks, but it gets a lot of use later in the process too when trimming quilt sides straight and square or measuring up borders and binding.
Printed 30 degree, 45 degree, and 60 degree angles make it handy for cutting unusual angles too, and mine gets a lot of use alongside strip piecing methods. An entire quilt could be cut using this ruler, though it makes an excellent companion to a square ruler or two, for real cutting versatility.
6½ Inch x 6½ Inch Square Ruler
Another wonderful square ruler is the 6½in square. This is an excellent standard size which will be useful for myriads of small blocks and units… after all most quilt blocks include a square or two! It is less cumbersome and easier to handle when cutting yardage into smaller pieces than a larger ruler, so I regularly switch to this when subcutting strips into blocks for a quilt.
It’s also a perfect size for trimming units such as Flying Geese and HSTs, especially as it has a printed 45 degree line that can be matched up with seams to ensure they bisect block corners to create perfect matching points. Paired with a rotating cutting mat, trimming is a piece of cake!
1½ Inch x 6½ Inch Square Ruler
I love this for its portable size. It is brilliant for travelling projects, as a quick reference when needing to check measurements and as the perfect companion for more intricate work. It will happily live in a pen pot or pocket by the side of your machine so it’s in easy reach, ready to be put to work at a moment’s notice. It’s ideal for checking accurate seam allowances, measuring scraps for usefulness or trimming pesky dog ears, and can double up as a quilter’s quarter to add that all important ¼in to the edges of templates for appliqué and English Paper Piecing.
It’s wonderful for trimming excess fabric during Foundation Paper Piecing too, and its grip dots are especially useful for holding onto small and fiddly fabric pieces. Slip it into your sewing pouch to take on the go for hand sewn projects – it will make light work of marking stop and start points in corners. The short but straight edge is also excellent for drafting your own designs, so why not keep it alongside your sketchbook and pencil for when inspiration strikes?
Bias Binding Simplified Ruler
By the time I’ve pieced and quilted a project I’m keen to get it bound and finished as quickly as possible. While any long ruler can be used to cut binding strips from yardage, this specialist ruler makes it especially straightforward to cut strips for straight or bias binding at 2¼in or 2½in widths, without having to concentrate on lining up the right measurement with every cut.
Use the ruler to cut strips across the width of fabric or choose to cut binding on the bias for curved and zigzag edges, which require that extra stretch in the fabric. Bias binding will also live up to wear and tear better than straight binding, so it’s a great option no matter the project. The ruler is printed with instructions for how to make bias binding as an easy reference point. It will also help estimate binding length from yardage and features measurements so you can calculate the overall length of strips you need. At one end a 45 degree angle edge will help with joining strips with diagonal seams, or use the squared edge for straight seams if preferred. Finally, use this ruler to finish ends for easy continual binding.
Creative Grids Circle Savvy Ruler
Cutting perfect circles is notoriously tricky to do without a good template. This ruler has everything you need to fulfil all your curvy desires, cleverly cutting circles, semi-circles and quarter-circles in sizes from 3in all the way up to 15½in diameter in ½in increments. That’s a lot of circles! No matter the technique, this tool will help. For freezer paper methods for turned edge appliqué, use this ruler to cut the paper the desired finished circle size then rotate it to cut the fabric exactly ½in larger.
For pieced circles, including Drunkard’s Path, set-in circles and rings, cut the background and circle with the same ruler using the seam allowance lines. Just choose your desired finished size, fold your fabric as instructed and use the channels to guide your rotary blade. Any blade up to 45mm will work.
Best Speciality quilting rulers
- EZ Quilting 60 Degree Triangle Template
- Sew Easy Dresden Template Ruler
- Fiskars Folding 8in Square Ruler
- Marti Mitchell Log Cabin Ruler
- EZ QUilting Easy Angle Ruler
- Westalee Ruler Foot Starter Set
Best Speciality Quilting Rulers
Ready to play with new shapes and speed up piecing specific patchwork effects? These rulers are here to make your life easier…
Marti Mitchell Log Cabin Ruler
A quilter’s repertoire isn’t complete without the Log Cabin block, but with so many pieces it is very time consuming to cut accurate strips in all the required sizes. Strips can also stretch and bow during assembly and pressing, leading to discrepancies and inaccurate results. That’s where this nifty ruler comes in to help you cut strips accurately and quickly.
Use this nifty 15 x 4½in ruler to rotary cut squares and strips to the exact length for perfect log cabins eery time. It will help you piece perfect log cabin blocks up to 14 inch square.
EZ Quilting Easy Angle Acrylic Template
Speed up cutting half square triangles, squares and attic windows from ½in to 6in without fabric waste with this nifty triangle ruler, including a built-in ¼in seam allowance. It comes with clear guidelines on a transparent but sturdy acrylic base to help you position your triangles for maximum print impact.
To me, half square triangle blocks look very modern alone and can combine with other block units to create some beautiful and unusual patterns. Use the ruler to speed up cutting and accuracy for traditional and modern quilt patterns.
EZ Quilting 60 degree triangle ruler
Once you’ve mastered squares and rectangles, you’re bound to feel the draw of triangles sooner or later. I love the simple geometry of an equilateral triangle and it is a shape I revisit often in my patchwork. While templates can be used to cut these shapes, this can be a slow process and the bias edges need to be treated with care. A dedicated triangle ruler opens up countless quilt patterns, especially one that can cut such a huge range of sizes. This ruler will cut 60 degree triangles up to 5in tall in ¼in increments and can be used to create diamonds and
30 degree triangles, too.
Pieced together, these triangles can also create hexagons, so this ruler is a hugely versatile tool that will elevate your piecing. Stack multiple layers of fabric in your desired width, then line up the size marking with the edge to cut a handful of triangles at a time. By rotating the ruler 180 degrees with each cut, fabric wastage is completely avoided and shapes are cut out efficiently. The resulting triangles feature a blunt tip which is designed as a guide for perfectly lining up raw edges when piecing. It also ensures bias edges are contained so that straight edges remain at the top and bottom of each row.
Sew Easy Dresden Template
Dresden Plate and Fan blocks are so pretty and can be used to create all sorts of effects and add movement to a quilt. However, their construction includes working with unusual angles that are difficult to cut without the right tools. Dresden Plates come in different combinations of wedges, but my favourite is the 20 wedge version, with shapes cut at an angle of 18 degrees.
This ruler will cut 18 degree wedges from 1in up to 9in long to make Dresden Plates more than double that measurement in diameter. But don’t worry, there is no maths required, a handy chart is included for block sizes. A circle template is also included for cutting the centre circle and can also be used to round off the tops of your wedges, opening up even more Dresden design options.
Fiskars folding 8in square / triangle ruler
Not sure whether to opt for a square or triangle ruler for your first quilting ruler purchase? Ta da! Trusted crafters’ hardware brand Fiskars have released a folding 8in patchwork square ruler, no triangle ruler, no square… (you get the gist) which serves the two jobs in one. As this cuts down on your need for different rulers it’s handy for classes as you have less kit to carry.
Use it to square off corners and cut half-square triangles, rectangles or squares from 1 to 8in without fabric waste. This sturdy acrylic ruler has all the features of the other, more-established ruler brands in this post – built-in ¼ in seam allowance and a clear effect for exact alignment and fussy cutting fun, and its markings feature clear intersections for enhanced visibility so you can read them on light, dark and patterned fabrics.
Best machine quilting rulers
So far we’ve focused on rulers which help to guide your rotary cutter as you cut fabric units in this post. But no quilting rulers post would be complete without a mention of the other type of ruler that can aide your patchwork – snazzy quilting rulers for domestic machines! Westalee are our brand of choice with their impressive range of designs which are created to be used alongside The Westalee Ruler Foot.
For all those of you who struggle with, are a little afraid of, or are just looking for inspiration for your free motion quilting, these rulers will change your life. They allow you to quilt with the guidance of the ruler on your trusty home sewing machine. So the days of awe-inspiring quilting patterns being the sole territory of longarm machine quilters are behind us. The Westalee range includes an impressive range of designs, from waves to paisley or snowflakes (to name a few).
You’ll need to do a little research about your machine before you purchase – as it may require a Low (LS) or Medium (MS) shank Ruler foot (in which case you’ll need to stick to low Shank templates) or a High (HS) or High Shank Special (HSS), in which case pick the templates that apply. If in doubt, speak to your local sewing machine shop for advice.
Westalee Ruler Feet – Starter Set
This Starter Set includes the Westalee Ruler Foot, a 12in Arc Template and a strip of Stable Tape. We’ve included the Low Shank version in the link above but remember to check your machine requirements before you buy to get the shank setting right.
The Cotton Patch stock all varieties of this starter pack to suit your machine. The Arc Template is a simple ruler for you to start stitching and will help you to confidently stitch lines and curves. The Stable Tape is a grip tape that is applied to the template that helps it to grip the top of the quilt sandwich as you quilt.
To see them in action, check out our Westalee Ruler Tech Test
How to use quilting rulers
To use a quilting ruler, you need a piece of fabric, a cutting mat and a rotary cutter (for all but the Westalee ruler in this article). Simply place the fabric on the mat, move the ruler to the position you need to cut a strip or square of your choice, press it firmly down and run the rotary cutter along the edge, using the ruler to guide you. For best results, place your mat on a firm surface like a hard table.
- Quilting rulers are see-through so you can choose which part of a patterned fabric to show in the shape you cut.
- They show you ¼in increments to help you to cut and measure fabric accurately for patchwork
- You can also use them to cut seam allowance on fabric
- 45 degree lines make trimming Half-square Triangles a dream!
- Clear numbering for standard unit and quilt block sizes ensures you cut right first time!