The Rulers that Rule

Over the course of this project, I’ve constantly been looking to upgrade my tools. I have gone on quests for new marking pencils, needles (and more needles), pins (and more pins), pressing mats, and more. Now, it’s time for rulers.

I’ve been using Omnigrid rulers for years. I like their Omnigrip line of non-slip rulers, but they’re hard to find in smaller sizes, and especially hard to find with 1/8″ markings on them.

The Dear Jane quilt has so many tiny pieces that you’re frequently cutting out things that are 7/8″ or 1-1/8″, so those 1/8″ markings on rulers are really a must have.

I’d hinted for two new kinds of rulers for Christmas. I got a starter kit of UltraGrid rulers from my Secret Santa at work, and got a couple of sets of Cute Cuts rulers by Lori Holt from my family.

I had the UltraGrid rulers in time for the previous block, but there was really only one part of the block that was rotary cut, so they didn’t get much of a test:


This block was all rectangles and squares (and triangles cut from rectangles and squares), so I could really put both kinds of rulers through their paces.

I started out cutting the green pieces of the block – the fabric was olive green with little flower designs in even darker olive (or maybe navy) on it. I needed to cut some half square triangles from 1-5/8″ squares, so I was super excited to have those 1/8″ markings on the Cute Cuts rulers.

The problem was that I couldn’t see the 1/8″ markings, which are navy blue and were positioned on dark olive green with navy blue flowers fabric.

I don’t know much about this Lori Holt person, but she clearly only cuts out pieces from pastel fabric. Or maybe I just need to buy a lighter color cutting mat? The lines did show up a little better on the red fabric, but these rulers are definitely not designed for people who like dark fabrics.

The UltraGrid rulers, on the other hand, are perfect for someone with my somber palette preferences. The lines are safety orange, with purple dots at regular intervals.

I rarely use orange – in my extensive stash of scrap fabric, the orange probably amounts to less than 1 yard. So, I’m rarely going to get in a situation where I can’t see the ruler markings with these UltraGrid rulers. And even then, I have the purple dots as a backup.

I also really liked that the UltraGrid rulers had a little gap at the 1″ markings with orange lines on either side of it, so you could really see if your fabric was lined up properly. A lot of other ruler brands have a fairly solid line at the 1″ markings, making it tougher to ensure that your fabric is lined up just so.

The downside, of course, is that the UltraGrid rulers don’t have any 1/8″ or 7/8″ inch markings except for right at the edge of the ruler. It really put a damper on cutting things like the 7/8″ strips and 3-1/8″ squares needed for this block.

The other major feature I was looking for in new rulers was excellent non-slip capability. The Cute Cuts rulers are unusual in that they have the non-slip coating primarily along two edges of the ruler, with some smaller grippy dots at about 1″ intervals. I was skeptical about how well this would grip, but was pleasantly surprised when using them to mark stitching lines.

The UltraGrid ones appear to have non-slip across almost the entire surface of the ruler. It has a slightly frosted appearance, but you can still easily see the fabric through it. Both Cute Cuts and UltraGrid rulers gripped better than Omnigrid.

The last big feature for me is angle markings – I at least want a 45 degree line somewhere on the ruler, for making half square and quarter square triangles. The Cute Cuts did not have any angle markings (not even on their larger rulers), which I was very surprised by.

The UltraGrid rulers had angle markings, even on their smallest rulers. The only disappointment there is that they were mostly solid lines, only having a gap in the line every inch or so. This made it harder to line up with smaller squares (like those 1-5/8″ ones) to cut them diagonally to make triangles.

The verdict? I think the Cute Cuts rulers will be great for cutting out odd size (involving 1/8″ or 7/8″ markings) squares and rectangles on light fabrics, but the Ultragrid rulers are the clear winners for more standard sizes and for triangles.

Now I just need to find the perfect cutting mat to use with my new rulers that totally rule!

2 thoughts on “The Rulers that Rule

  1. Good morning Betsy! I to started out with omnigrid rulers with all those yellow marking and found as I grew older these eyes of mine just seem to like certain markings and colors so I wondered on over to creative grids. For those times when I need an 1/8 mark I use a tiny ruler made especially for miniature quilt makers and it has no brand on it. I love following your posts on DJ, I haven’t worked on mine in ages and am not far along. Maybe I better get busy and at least make an attempt at getting something done. Happy Sewing today and everyday!

    1. So many people swear by Creative Grids rulers, but I find the markings on them really confusing. After cutting on the wrong line many times, I finally gave up on them.
      But I’m intrigued by your ruler especially for miniature quilt makers. I feel like just about all of the Dear Jane blocks qualify as miniature. :)

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