Inspiring Quilters, Stitch by Stitch
I find the square 6.5" omnigrid very useful. When cutting a full length I use the 6x24; for almost all other cutting I use a 3 x 18". A friend of mine swears by Olfa; She cautions that other brands may not be as accurate. And another uses whatever she finds in craft stores, and said so far the measurements of the less expensive store brands are fine for her.
Jennifer, I use Omnigrid the most. I like the markings on them the best. I do have others, but always seem to go back to the Omnigrid.
Thanks, everyone. I currently have the Omnigrid. I have enjoyed using it, but the 1/4" and 1/2" lines have worn off of both edges! Thanks for all the shopping advice.
Jennifer, I have been teaching quilting for 2-1/2 years. My favorite brand for basic rulers is definitely OMNIGRIP, which is made by the same company as OMNIGRID. OMNIGRIP rulers have a nonslip coating on the backside, which makes it much easier to hold the ruler still while cutting!! It might also protect the markings on the back side of the ruler, I don't know. But the nonslip property is well worth the extra $1-2 in price! If you buy them at JoAnn's, you can probably get them 40-50% off with a sale or coupon. I started purchasing one of these rulers every time they were on sale at JoAnn's, until I had all the ones that I wanted. ;=)
When you buy rulers without the nonslip coating, you can apply something to the back to make them less slippery. There is a clear plastic adhesive sheet (Clearfilm?) that can be cut to cover the entire back of the ruler. Or you can get adhesive dots made from either clear plastic or sand paper that can be spaced around the ruler. I prefer something clear, so you can still see through ALL the lines on the ruler, but my friend swears by the sandpaper dots.
I have found that it is nice to have 2 rulers that are over 12" long but 4-6" wide to take instead of the 6x24" ruler, when I teach. I can carry these easily without risk of breaking them, because they fit in my rolling case. Then I tape them together with blue painter's masking tape to get the 24" length needed to straighten the edge of fabric. I have small hands, and the 4" width is easier for me to hold firmly.
I am also making a collection of triangular rulers (isosceles triangles, like an arrowhead, with 2 base angles equal). These are useful for a lot of quilt patterns, but can be hard to find in angles other than 45 & 60 degrees at the top. The Fat Cat ruler is 30 degrees at the top, but it is cut off there so that I had to tape on a piece of cardboard to get the full use of the 30 degree angle. Some of the Dresden Plate rulers have angles of 18 or 20 degrees at the top. I just found a ruler with a 40 degree angle at the top at a quilt show, and was able to find a right triangle with a 18 degree angle and cutting lines parallel to the base. I bought 2 of these 18 degree rulers, because combined they make 36 degrees and I can tape them together! I can also use them with the 18 degree Dresden plate ruler to make a complete rectangular block. (My students say that I am too good at math & geometry...)
Another important but unrecognized difference between rulers is the thickness of the plastic. High quality rulers are made with thicker plastic, but some of the lower cost rulers use thinner plastic. You can definitely feel the difference if you hold them next to each other. This DIRECTLY affects how accurately you can rotary cut!!! The contact area between the ruler & the rotary cutting blade is what "steers" the blade, if you are holding the rotary cutter properly. So a thicker ruler gives a larger contact area with the blade, and makes it much easier to get a straight, accurate cut. I try to emphasize this to my quilting students, but many quilters seem to be unaware of it. I noticed this difference when I was beginning as a quilter, and stopped buying the thin rulers. I also prefer the larger diameter, 60-65 mm, rotary cutting blades for straight line cuts, because again I get more contact area with the ruler and thus more accurate cuts.
Good luck & happy quilting! Monica Schmidt