Friday, February 17, 2012

Gadgetmania: Rulers by Laura Bolčina (Part 1)

Dear Readers! Meet Laura Bolčina of My Little Nook. I first saw Laura, a cultural studies graduate with passion for sewing and design,  featured on Burdastyle and then in the new Burdastyle book...  Her studio projects reflect her optimistic spirit and the one below is one of my favourites! Laura is someone who takes sewing tool sand notions seriously (check out her blog) and it comes as no surprise that she suggested not a one but two posts on rulers, readers. So, today we are treated to the Part 1 - enjoy it!

Hi! My name is Laura Bolčina and I am a self-taught seamstress from Slovenia, Europe. When Marina searched for guest bloggers, I was in the middle of the rulers “investigation”. I decided to contact her and she let me write about my subject. This post is all about the most useful rulers for patternmakers and seamstresses – and it is only Part I.

Wide 24 in/60 cm (or longer) clear ruler is used to draw longer parallel or perpendicular pattern marks and to locate grain lines and design details with regard to front closure, collar or lapel position of a pattern. It is indispensable for those of you, who make a lot of trouser patterns – for its length. If angle lines are marked on your ruler, you can use it to locate diagonal lines and establish or mark true bias (45°). Due to its length and transparency it is also very convenient to establish (bias) strips, basic waistbands, cuffs, and pockets. This ruler is available in various widths. Mine is 6 in/15 cm wide.

 Wide 12 in/30 cm or 14 in/35 cm clear ruler is used to mark and measure straight lines, mark parallel lines, pleats, tucks, and style lines. Transparency also helps you with establishing seam allowances on pattern pieces and marking the position of bound buttonholes and welt pockets. It is available in various widths as well. I think 4 in/10 cm wide is the most versatile.
As for clear rulers, Olfa Frosted Advantage line is my favourite. The rulers are made from durable acrylic plastic, are non-slip and the back side is frosted for clarity on both light and dark materials. Although I don't own any, Omnigrid rulers look like a good choice as well. Just make sure you check whether you're buying imperial or metric model.

Tailor's square – L square is an L shaped 90° angle ruler. Usually it is used to square off corners of pattern sections and draw perpendicular lines, levels (bust, waist, hip …), and reference points when patternmaking. It is also made to measure crotch depth on a model and to mark it on a pattern. Fairgate  and Lance produce quality rulers for designers if you're looking for one. I don't have a tailor's square yet and for some of the tasks a 6 in/15 cm wide clear ruler is a great substitute.

Regular 6 in/15 cm ruler comes in handy especially when larger rulers would be too big and clumsy. Use it to place grain lines or style lines on small pattern pieces and to mark and measure small garment pieces such as collars, pockets, cuffs etc.

Centre-finding ruler is a ruler with zero point at the centre and numbers increasing towards both ends of the ruler. Use it to find centres of pleats and darts, and to determine the placement of buttonholes and buttons or fasteners on double breasted garments. This ruler also helps you with measuring from the centre out to either edge.

Fairgate combines a regular ruler and centre-finding ruler, so you can buy one 6 in/15 cm centre-finding ruler instead of having to buy two separate.

I hope this helps you decide which straight ruler(s) you really need. Come back next Friday to read about curves!


Have discovered new rulers, readers? From the ones featured in Laura's post, I own 20x2 inch transparent ruler, and the L-ruler. Center finding ruler was a discovery for me, it can be a very practical tool, I can imagine. What rulers do you use in your sewing most frequently? 


  1. I find my fashion ruler, french curve, metal yardstick and 1x12 Olfa ruler indispensable  as well.  The center finding ruler is new to me....will check that out.  I do have a metal tape measure that has a center finding feature on it which is very useful for measuring windows and window treatments:)

  2. I have been looking for good rulers for a long time. I own metal french curve, but I never use it. This is very helpful, I didn't want to buy them online but I think this is what I'll had to do becacuse most of these is imposible to find in the shops where I live.  I didn't know the center finding ruler existed.

  3. I have several rulers of various sizes and thicknesses, in part because I'm always mislaying them during the periods I take classes and have to carry them back and forth.  I have:

    a precision ruler with 1/32" and 1/16" markings (used mainly to check small increments);

     a 6" clear ruler (very helpful);

     various 18" or 24" rulers, C-through or quilting rulers (Omnigrid and Olfa)
    (also very helpful); and 

    an L Square. 

    I also use a sewing gauge.  Don't get a cheap one.  If the metal guide loosens it will be useless.As alluded to in the post, the L Square (Tailor's Square or Drafting Square) can also be used to draft patterns, although I don't know how to use it that way.  Here's an introduction by Jeffery Diduch, a tailor: Although not rulers, I use a French Curve (Dietzgen No. 17) and various hip curves.  One day I will invest in a flexible neck curve.



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