Saturday, April 18, 2015

What more can you do with a Ruler?

Back in the days when I was learning about pattern making and drafting we used a transparent flexible ruler with red lines forming a grid of eight inch increments. They have become my favourite type of ruler and are much more accurate than the thick and ridged quilting rulers.

These were most handy for many jobs and now they are available in more sizes. Whenever I am near a drafting store, an art supply store, a fabric shop or a sewing machine store I always check out their notions wall for more of these wonderful rulers. I am forever hopeful of finding yet another size or the opportunity to stock up on a couple of sizes. These rulers do become brittle and darken with age so that they are subject to snapping if bent.

The most common size is 2” x 18” but you will find 12” x 2”, 12” x 1” and 6” x 1”. I’ve even found a right angled ruler like you might find amongst a man’s work tools. One ruler I bought years ago was half metric and half imperial. The rulers with red markings seem to show up much better than the occasional rulers you might find with blue markings.


I love the little 6” ruler for small jobs and drafting doll patterns where the 18” or even the 12“ might seem too big.

So, you say, what can you do besides measure with them and draw straight lines?
First, if the ruler you purchased has pinholes down the centre, you can use it to draw circles or arcs. And since it is a ruler you can so easily calculate the radius and circumference of the circle you have drawn.

If you wish to measure a curved line the ruler bends allowing you to measure at a glance (depending on how long the line is and how tight the curve). You can only bend it so far but you can ‘walk’ it around a really tight curve.
You can easily find the centre point of a line (if it is less than 18”) by using the markings that measure from 0 down the centre of the ruler.
Not centred yet...
Done and centre is marked.
It is great for marking a right angle for short distances. For longer lines use a right angle ruler.
Drawing a right angle to a line.

Verify with a right angle ruler if available.

Add ¼” SA
Add seam allowances to a stitching line. Match up the line for the width of the seam allowance to the stitching line and pivot along this line, drawing the cutting line as you go.
Add 1/4" or 3/8"

Smooth the line when finished, if necessary.
Here ½” is being added with the right angle, all in one step thanks to the ruler’s transparency.

The only weakness I’ve found is that if I use these rulers with my rotary cutter, they can become nicked or the blade can cut into them. Then they no longer give smooth, perfect lines. I keep old rulers for just this purpose and make sure they are marked so I know which one is which!
There are probably more ways to make use of these wonderful rulers. But this is lots for now.
Next time you are shopping in the notions department why not pick one up and start experimenting!
Be sure to keep stitching! 

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