Probably every quilter has faced the problem of the ruler slipping or sliding when cutting. It is frustrating to carefully line up the ruler, start cutting, then have the ruler slide out of position. We all know accuracy is key and fabric is too precious to waste on bad cuts! Fortunately, there are several products and ways to prevent your ruler from slipping.
Back when I first started quilting we didn’t have products designed specifically to prevent rulers from slipping so people devised ways on their own. Some recommended placing hot glue in the corners. Others glued sandpaper to the back. Neither of these was ideal, but they helped.
I don’t usually have a problem with larger rulers, but since most of my cutting right now is for six-inch blocks I am using smaller rulers. Also, with the little pieces, cutting accuracy is even more important. This is a little 6.5-inch ruler I’ve had for over 20 years. I am using it all the time since so many of my projects call for little cuts on little pieces of fabric. Haha! It works great for cutting small blocks, but there is nothing on it to prevent slipping.
So…I had to decide what to use to prevent the sliding.
First, is sandpaper dots. These are simply little sandpaper circles with adhesive on the back to stick to your ruler.
Advantages are that they are very inexpensive and are simple to use. The major disadvantage is that once placed on the ruler, it can be hard to see the fabric underneath. It’s hard to know where to place these dots so it won’t impede visibility.
Next came little clear dots. They eliminated the problem of not being able to see the fabric, but they were so thick, the ruler rocked when cutting. I used these for a while, but because of the height, I peeled them off all the rulers and pitched them, so I can’t even show an example. Now there are flat, clear dots that probably work better, but I haven’t tried them.
Then I tried Invisigrip. This product is similar to contact paper and you can cut it to fit over the entire back surface of the ruler. It does not have an adhesive on the back though, so you can easily peel it off.
Advantages to Invisigrip are that it is fairly inexpensive. It comes on a 12.5″ x 36″ roll for around $9.00 on Amazon. You can cover a few rulers with a roll. It also prevents slipping–maybe too well. It is hard to “nudge” the ruler over a little bit with this on the back. Because it is clear, there is no issue with seeing the fabric under the ruler. One disadvantage is that this product does not retain its adhesive properties in the package. Once it’s opened, you need to use it right away or it won’t retain won’t stick to the ruler. Once it’s on the ruler, it stays for a long time though. Eventually, though, mine started peeling away on the edges (maybe overuse?), so I removed it and did not replace it.
Another product that works well is 3M Nexcare tape. This is a clear, flat tape that you can find at pretty much any pharmacy. You want to be sure to buy the clear tape and not the tan variety. It is easy to tear by hand.
You can place as much or as little as you want on the back of the ruler. I have found that a few small squares work fine, although some people prefer long strips down the length of the ruler. It works well to keep the ruler in place and I haven’t found any real disadvantages to using this product. It is super cheap and easy to use and is almost invisible when placed on the ruler.
Recently, though, I was at a retreat and struggling to keep a ruler from slipping when cutting. My friend, Deb, had just tried Grippy Non-Slip Coating spray and had a can with her. She encouraged me to try it so I went outside, placed my ruler backside up on the ground, and lightly sprayed. It just took seconds to dry. I did not notice an odor like there is with basting spray.
The spray left a very slight haze on the ruler, but you can still see the fabric underneath. I don’t even notice it when it is on the fabric. You can feel it on the back, but it is not tacky. It works great to stop the ruler from slipping.
Since trying it on that first ruler, I have since sprayed all my small rulers and really like how it is working. I don’t know how long it will last, but it has been several months and it is still working. You may be able to find Grippy at your local quilt shop or of course, it is available at Amazon.
As you can see, there are many products available that will prevent your ruler from slipping. You will probably find that you prefer one over all the others. Right now, I like the Grippy spray. It may just be me, but I always wonder if that little bit of height from adhesive products could throw the cutting off a thread or two. This is usually not a big problem, but with teeny-tiny cuts for little blocks, it might matter. Products that cover the entire ruler, like Invisigrip or Grippy eliminate that, but of the two, Grippy is much, much easier to use!
If you are having trouble, be sure to try some of these ways to prevent your rulers from slipping. You might have to experiment with a few of these products to see which works best for you. I receive no compensation from any of these and am just reporting the options and what my personal experience is with each.
Come back next week when I will write about rulers and cutting techniques that also reduce slipping and sliding.