Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Easy Ruler Modification - Tuesday Tip

Do you ever need to trim a block and you don't have the correct size or type of ruler in your tool box?

How about trimming a block and you just about go cross-eyed trying to line it up on all the little dots and the process gets more complicated because of that extra half inch?  You get the first one cut and then you need to replicate it several more times. It makes me get seasick just thinking about it!

Sometimes there is a highly specialized ruler that can be purchased. Who has the budget for that? Not me.

Many times the perfect ruler doesn't even exist. 

Here's my solution when I don't have the perfect ruler, I modify one I already own!

I recently used my technique when I had to trim 20 granny square blocks on point. That's a lot of eye fatigue when you take the time to line up all those off centered dots. Here's what the middle looked like.

Now add in all those outer points, factor in some warpage and layer on the occasional imperfect seam allowance and....you get where I am going...lining up those corners and maintaining proper placement all around the block is near impossible!

My solution is to grab an Vis-A-Vis pen or a Sharpie. Sometimes I only need to circle a specific dot or dots so that my eye can quickly find them. Other times I need something more detailed.

For the Granny Squares I pulled out my 6x12 ruler and added lines to my 12.5 square ruler. Starting with a corner to corner line perpendicular to the existing printed line.

I use my long ruler to mark my lines and I ALWAYS MARK ON THE SLICK, UNPRINTED SIDE of my ruler. This is especially important if you are using a Sharpie.

The great thing about the Vis-A-Vis is that it does not rub off easily like a Dry-Erase or Expo pen would but it is easily removed with a damp cloth.

For my Granny Square Block I had to make two inch wide channels to line up with the rows.

First one direction and then perpendicular.

I did this by lining up the one inch mark on my long ruler with the corner diagonal lines.

Below is my fully modified ruler ready for use.

Now it was a matter of lining up my blocks under my modified ruler. I started with the center piece and worked out to all four corners.

When I was satisfied with my alignment I trimmed my squares.

It's a bit of a bonus that the points are taken out of the equation with this generous 12.5 inch trimming. They just sort of float in the white background.

Once you have all your blocks trimmed it's time to take your ruler back to its original condition.

All it takes is a damp cloth for the Vis-A-Vis marked ruler.

You will need alcohol if you use a Sharpie.

My rulers have been marked multiple times in this manner and they look great. 

Just remember to only mark on the clear side and not on the printed side that touches your fabric. 

Thanks for visiting!

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  1. This is a brilliant idea, and I'm saving it for when I finally make my granny square quilt. (also, I love your block - great color choices)

    1. Thanks! That actual block is not from my quilt and I can't take credit for the fabrics. We had a guild challenge for 12" blocks using fabrics chosen by Meg and Heather. I just had to make another granny square because they are so much fun and I took the opportunity to do a better photo shoot of my ruler mods. So, that is the second time I marked my ruler for that block! Just proof that they do bounce back after marking.

  2. Brilliant! Thanks; you've taken the sting out of on point piecing!

  3. Good tips!
    Just last night I found myself wishing I owned all of the sizes of rulers as I struggled to use one of the 2 that I own.

  4. That is an awesome tip. I have used masking tape in the past but because it's not a thin line it was still a tad tricky. Thanks!

  5. You are the best! This is a great tip, and although the Vis-a-Vis were something I knew about, I hadn't considered Sharpies. They have a much finer point, the fine points, and for tiny things I'm working on would be better. I am super impressed now. Thank you!

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

  6. Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial, gayle. What a difference those few markings make! I am pinning this fabulous tip!

  7. I never thought about modifying a ruler - I wonder why?? Going to remember this next time I start to put an expensive ruler on my Amazon Wishlist. ;)

  8. seriously a great idea! thanks for the tip and I'm sure many of us will try this out!

  9. Thanks for this tutorial, and especially the tip about using a vis a vis marker. I definitely need to remember this. (Thanks, too, for your comment on my blog. I tried to reply, but it didn't go through the server.)

  10. Oh goodness, this is great! Very useful. This is why I love the blogging community!

  11. Thank you for such a fantastic tutorial, its really so simple, but I would never have thought of it! I just wish I had seen this at Christmas when I too was working on some Granny Squares! Thanks again for sharing!

  12. Awesome tip! I usually use a piece of painter's tape but I like this better!

  13. This is so clever! I will definitely be using this tip the next time I have to square up blocks on the diagonal! Thanks!

  14. This is brilliant. I used washi tape before but the marker is way more effective. Thanks so much.

  15. Wow! This is awesome. Thank you so much for writing this up. Pinning for future reference.