Rx for Rulers

If you’ve been quilting a while, you probably have a good-sized number of acrylic rulers on hand, the ones you use every day for cutting fabric and trimming blocks plus the specialty rulers you use on occasion. And let’s not forget the ones you bought (but maybe haven’t used yet) because they promised a faster, easier, more accurate way of cutting fabric or making a block.

With a few exceptions, these rulers tend to slip and slide on fabrics. How many of you have experienced a shift in position just as you were running your rotary cutter along a ruler’s edge? My hand is in the air.

Enter a product that may already be in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It’s a flexible clear 1″-wide surgical tape called Nexcare made by 3M. My friend and fellow quilter Kathy Anderson told me about it and now I’m passing the word on to all my friends who quilt.

Here’s what the package looks like. If you look carefully, you can see I have applied it to my go-to 4″ x 14″ Omnigrid ruler.

Rx for rulers 1

For years I used a product called Invisigrip on the back of my rulers. Made by Omnigrid, it’s a roll of clear film that comes attached to a paper backing. You cut it into strips, peel the paper backing away, and apply the film to the back of rulers. Invisigrip works very well at keeping rulers from sliding on fabric but it does have a couple of disadvantages.

First, the film can loosen from the back of the ruler over time and need replacing. Second, after a package has been open a while, it becomes stale. That is, it becomes impossible to separate the film from the paper backing, rendering the rest of the roll unusable. I tried sealing the roll in a Ziploc bag between applications but it still got stale.

I found myself buying a new package almost every time I got a new ruler. Over the years I have spent a fair amount of money on this product. NexCare tape is much less expensive — I think I paid around $4.50 for this double-roll package containing 20 yards — and it is very easy to apply.

All you have to do is unroll the length of tape you need, cut it with scissors, and apply it to the back of the ruler. But, being a bit of a neatnik when it comes to my sewing tools, I like to use my rotary cutter to cut straight lines so the tape lines up with the lines on my rulers. In the photos below I’m putting it on the back of a specialty ruler that I use a lot, the Quick Curve Ruler.

I place the ruler wrong side up on my cutting mat. (I put the ruler on a piece of fabric here just so you can see the markings better.) Below the ruler I unroll a length of tape the same length as the ruler, following the marking lines on the cutting mat, and press the tape onto the mat:

Rx for rulers 2

Next I trim the ends of the tape with my rotary cutter, allowing a ¼” margin between the end of the tape and the edges of the ruler. I use a stiletto (a bamboo skewer, actually) to lift up the edges of the tape where it was trimmed . . .

Rx for rulers 3

. . . and then peel the strip of tape off the mat.

Using the markings on the ruler itself as a guide, I lay the strip of tape on the ruler, positioning it a quarter of an inch from the edges, and press it in place with my fingertips. Here you can see that I added strips to the top of the ruler, leaving the area around the hanging hole clear, and added an extra stabilizing strip under the curve cut-out.

Rx for rulers 4

You can put strips around all four sides of the ruler if you wish. You can put them anywhere, for that matter. Because the cutting channel on the Quick Curve Ruler comes within a half-inch of the sides, I opted not to put strips there, adding the stabilizing strip in the center instead.

When I’m ready to use the ruler, I can see clearly through the tape:

Rx for rulers 5
Pretty nifty, don’t you think?

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Quick Curve Ruler, tutorial, update. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Rx for Rulers

  1. Thanks for the tip, Dawn!

  2. Kristi says:

    Thanks for the information! I am going to try this.

  3. Sandy Pruss says:

    Thanks for the tip, Dawn. I too have had issues finding a product that works well. I’m definitely adding this to my Christmas stocking wish list. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth Sewell says:

    This is so helpful — thank you! Loved browsing your blog.

  5. Ana Perna says:

    This is very useful. Thank you!

  6. lisa phillips says:

    brilliant my dear! i love these posts of yours…xoxo

  7. Jo Ann says:

    Thanks for the great tip!

  8. Edna Day says:

    How long does the tape last before you have to change it? Sounds like a good idea.

    • Dawn says:

      Hi, Edna. I just learned of this tip a few months ago so I don’t know if it has a “shelf life.” I’m inclined to think it wouldn’t have to be changed at all.

  9. Evelyn says:

    I’m going out this morning to buy some of this tape – I get very frustrated when my ruler slips .

  10. Norma Lingo says:

    This is a great tip. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Betty Flavin says:

    thanks for a great tip

  12. Carol Stark says:

    Love the tip, Dawn!! Thank You!!

  13. Kaye Phillips says:

    Thank you so much for this tip. My ruler seems to be slipping a lot more as I get older. I will have to see what they have here in Australia.

  14. Tina says:

    Love it, had the same trouble with the tape as you! Now waiting until Easter Monday when the shops open again, pop into the chemist and see if they have it! Thank you so much for the hint, it will save me heaps in temper and money hahaha

  15. Anne says:

    I love this tip, sometimes those little bumps don’t work well on small rulers or cover the markings. This is really great. Thanks so much!

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