Quilting rulers are great for cutting quilt pieces, blocks and borders. From itty, bitty, tiny quilt triangles to long, wide borders, quilt rulers are a must! Throw in a cutting mat and rotary cutter and you are all set to go. It is so quick and easy to set your ruler down on the correct measurement, run your rotary cutter up against it and your fabric is cut. So much quicker than marking it and cutting with a pair of scissors!
Rules are available in all shapes and sizes for cutting all kinds of fabric triangles, squares and borders. But there is not the exact size ruler for every single quilt piece or block in any size. Many times a ruler can be turned this way and that to make it cut the piece you need, but having the actual size you need to cut is very helpful.
That is when you need to create your own template. I love to use clear plastic template sheets and cut them to the exact size I need them to be. The sheets are semi-clear which allows you to see through to the fabric you are cutting. You can easily cut the template sheets with a pair of scissors into the shape you need. Plus you can also write on the plastic with an ink pen which allows you to mark lines and label each piece.
For the current quilt blocks I am working on, I needed a square ruler measuring 14 1/2" x 14 1/2" to cut my blocks down to size. Omnigrid, my favorite brand of quilting rulers, does not make a 14 1/2" square ruler. They make a 15 1/2" square, which I could use, but not a 14 1/2".
But I can make my own template that is the exact 14 1/2" I need using plastic template sheets! The template sheets are 14" x 20", but I can tape two sheets together for a larger size. Using my rotary cutter and cutting mat, I can then cut the template plastic down to 14 1/2". I will draw horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines on the template. This marks the center of the template and helps for placement when cutting down the blocks.
A rotary cutter will cut though the template, so I have to use it with a quilting ruler when I'm cutting the blocks. All I have to do is lay the template square on the block and center it where it I would like it. Pick up my quilting ruler, line it up against one side of the template and use my rotary cutter to cut off the excess fabric. The rotary cutter is cutting against the ruler, so it will not cut into the plastic. I can continue to cut the other three sides.
Yes, I could use the 15 1/2" square ruler and cut my blocks down to 14 1/2". But it is much easier to have an exact 14 1/2" square, center it over the block and trim off the excess fabric. Why? I am trying to keep the quilt design in the center of the block, still centered in the block after it is cut down to size. When I have the correct size placed on top the block, I can easily measure the distance from the embroidery center to the template edge.
If I am only needing to cut one block, I would just use the 15 1/2" square, but since I will be cutting multiple blocks, it is much easier and saves time to make a template and use that to cut down the blocks. When you are needing a different or unusual size that the ruler you have, try creating your own template using template plastic and see how it works for you! I have multiple sizes of blocks made from template plastic and use them over and over!
Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!
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