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The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: CarolP
Date: 02-27-2006, 08:36 PM (1 of 12)
Hi, I'm new to this forum. I'm glad to have found it. I've learned so much already. My question is what are the best rulers to use? What sizes are good to start with? I'm a little intimidated by starting to sew, but I'm going to do it. I have a rotary cutting mat and rotary cutter but I have no clue what kind of ruler to use. I have seen that most of the quilting rulers have an edge to them which makes alot of sense to me. I will be sewing mostly household items like curtains, placemats, etc. I was thinking maybe a long ruler would be best, like 6" x 24", but I really would like to know what you all find to be the most versatile to use. Thanks very much.
User: CarolP
Member since: 02-27-2006
Total posts: 8
From: bridesmom
Date: 02-28-2006, 12:40 AM (2 of 12)
I have a clear 6x24 quilting ruler, and I have a aluminum right angle ruler used by construction people. I also have a very straight yardstick, and various 12" rulers with metric on one side and inches on the other. I have a 12" ruler at each machine and I have a measuring tape glued to the end of a table by my machine which is 30". I really like the right angle (I called it an L-thing) for doing corners and getting it 90 degrees. I like it better than the clear 6x24. I think the one I have used the most is the 6x24. Welcome to the group!
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: Chrysantha
Date: 02-28-2006, 12:54 AM (3 of 12)
I have a 6x24 clear, with an edge (for the table/mat edge), a 12" square, 6,1/2" square. Small and large rotary cutters. (with extra those blades they cut like a samurai sword). A carpenters t-square is good. A triangle...I also use a metal carpenters level sometimes...( I have a 2 ft one).
I also have some rounds, hearts, hexagons. You'll want LONG pins (glass heads or flower/flat head pins) and a marking pen (one that fades away and one that washes out). and some nice quilting safety pins They're gold colored, brass I think). They're longer and won't leave rust marks on your fabric.
User: Chrysantha
Member since: 09-06-2002
Total posts: 2414
From: CarolP
Date: 02-28-2006, 02:22 AM (4 of 12)
Thanks very much for the suggestions. This gives me a good start. I appreciate everyone's help. I look forward to getting started. Any other suggestions for a newbie are greatly appreciated!
User: CarolP
Member since: 02-27-2006
Total posts: 8
From: Sancin
Date: 02-28-2006, 04:59 AM (5 of 12)

Welcome to Sew What's New. You came to the right place for help. There are no crazy questions and you will find everyone friendly and willing to help.

If you are going to be making curtains, you may find a tape measure easier to handle. I am short and a little awkward due to arthritis and I find the 60" yard sticks awkward to handle, but they do have their place when they are in place and you are moving around them. Like other's I have a variety of rulers but find I use an 18 x 3 " one the most. I do have one that is 24X 6 but usually want to throw it out the window, more due to the 6" than then 24. . If I were you I would get one or 2, use them and then figure out what you think you are missing. I keep a running list of 'like to have's" and only buy when on sale somewhere or another.

The firm rulers I use are for quilting. For sewing, I use a tape measure (a really good fibreglass one that won't stretch and as long as you get and, depending where you live one with both metric and inches, a 6" ruler (best is metal with a sliding 'thingee' in the middle), and a seam guide (square device with indents marked in 1/4",1/2", 3/4", 5/8"). Ensure all rulers you buy have enough markings that you can measure 1/4 " at least. If you have to adjust clothing you may find you like several dressmakers curves for adjusting hems, armholes and necks, etc., but this would not be a basic need. I can't stress enough that you get good pins. I never buy plastic headed pins anymore, as even one mixed in with glassheaded will be the one you touch with an iron. Quality pins are also sharp. Nothing is more frustrating than dull pins, tho there are a few situations you may want them but you really don't need dull pins. :wink:

The other thing you need is marking tools. There are lots on the market and if you are like me you will end up with everyone, trying to find the one YOU like best. I finally like Chaco markers. Some like the fade away but I don't like them.

Further, if you are going to be sewing vs quilting you will want several good pairs of sewing scissors. Shears and smaller clippers for thread or corners.

Good luck - let us know what you found helpful or not helpful.

Who remembers when every hardware shore on the map gave out free yardsticks and everyone had one behind every door in the house? :wink:
*~*~*~* Nancy*~*~*~* " I try to take one day at a time - but sometimes several days attack me at once."
User: Sancin
Member since: 02-13-2005
Total posts: 895
From: HeyJudee
Date: 02-28-2006, 07:07 AM (6 of 12)
Who remembers when every hardware shore on the map gave out free yardsticks and everyone had one behind every door in the house? :wink: I do! :sad:
TTFN from
User: HeyJudee
Member since: 01-25-2005
Total posts: 1366
From: LadySloPokes
Date: 02-28-2006, 09:51 AM (7 of 12)
Hi CarolP, welcome to our little corner of the cyber-space world! I hope you will find all of your visits here pleasant and helpful, just as I have. Everyone has given you some excellent tips. Sancin is right on the money about the different rulers, tape measures, markers, scissors and pins. I followed that advice when I got started a little over a year ago-the only tool I'm missing is a good point turner for square corners.

As for rulers, I have a 3"x18" gridded ruler that works very well with my 12"x18" cutting mat. I also use two flexible tape measures-one is 60" long and the other is 72" long. I haven't use the latter yet as I've only made small curtains, placemats and runners. If I ever decide to tackle making curtains for our living room window, the 72"er will come in very handy. The man of my household has two very nice metal tape measures for measuring windows, shelves, doors, etc. One is 20' and the other is 25'. Yes, I have made use of those when he wasn't looking! :wink: As with anything else, you are the one who will be able to decide which tools will work best for you. Everybody is different, but starting off with the right tools is the best step you can take! Good luck, and keep us posted on your projects!

Cookie :bg:
LadySlo...yes am I, but hey, I'm gettin' there! Are you sure it's supposed to look like this?! Proud owner of Singer Quantum Decor 7322 & Singer Quantum Futura CE 200.. "A balanced diet is having chocolate in both hands!"
User: LadySloPokes
Member since: 08-15-2005
Total posts: 198
From: Sancin
Date: 03-01-2006, 01:30 AM (8 of 12)

I forgot to add to my list of suggestions a pin cushion and hand sewing needles (you will need them from time to time). I think most people here would probably say that the magnetic pin cushions are the most convenient - just don't put a needle on it or you will never find it among the pins. :bluewink: You should probably have some thread on hand - black, white, off white - these will get you through until you get the coloured thread you want.

As you can see from responses here there are a lot of things around the house you will use in sewing. Personally I use nut picks (as in nut cracker picks) for all sorts of things like turning corners or as a guide to guide fabric into the machine. Try a Google search for 'basics sewing tools' and you will be surprised how much information is out there. There was a discussion on this list about 6 months ago about favourite sewing notions. I can't recall how you search, but someone will fill you in I am sure. :re:
*~*~*~* Nancy*~*~*~* " I try to take one day at a time - but sometimes several days attack me at once."
User: Sancin
Member since: 02-13-2005
Total posts: 895
From: CarolP
Date: 03-01-2006, 01:37 AM (9 of 12)
I've gotten some great suggestions here. Thanks very much. I've already begun purchasing some of the items I read about in this forum. I have found several things on eBay. I like to comparison shop to get the best prices, so I am cautious before I buy. I really appreciate all the help. I'll keep checking this post. I'm going to see if I can track down that "favorite" blog too. You guys are wonderful! I'm so glad I found this website.
User: CarolP
Member since: 02-27-2006
Total posts: 8
From: CarolP
Date: 03-02-2006, 12:59 AM (10 of 12)
I am so pleased. Today I finally threaded my machine and actually sewed something. I couldn't believe how easy it was! Since I got this machine for Christmas, I have been so intimidated. Now I can't believe I let myself get all worked up about it - HAHA. I repaired the trim on an old blanket I have. It didn't come out perfect, but I at least got the hang of using the machine. I'm proud of myself even for this small feat. I even got to use my rotary cutter and mat to cut up some scrap and practice different stitches. That thing is amazing. Just wanted to brag a little since I've been psyching myself out over this sewing machine for over 2 months now. Thanks again for all the beginner tips!
User: CarolP
Member since: 02-27-2006
Total posts: 8
From: debsews
Date: 03-02-2006, 06:41 AM (11 of 12)
Good for you! I think the hardest thing sometimes is just sitting down and getting started. Now that's behind you I'm sure you'll be turning out new things all the time.
User: debsews
Member since: 09-16-2005
Total posts: 254
From: Clarkia
Date: 03-04-2006, 12:44 AM (12 of 12)
Since my back is bad, I quite often sit to cut my strips and blocks. I find the shorter ruler 4 X 14 inch ruler is just easier to handle.

At one time I had a handle for my big ruler, but it eventually lost the suction in the suction cups and I threw it away. I really should replace it.

A timer. I keep one beside my machine and use it...I find that I get more done if I don't sit and sew for long periods, and make fewer errors. Besides, I get my housework done in the breaks.

Fray check or unused fingernail polish to stiffen the end of thread so it is easier to thread the needle. Use very sparingly, smooth it down with your finger, and after it has stiffened and dried, cut with a sharp pair of scissors to give a nice clear end on the thread. Works in the serger, too. A tweezer is good to grab the thread after it appears on the back side of the needle.

Sometimes I use the little fine needle threaders, sometimes a dental floss loop. Sometimes I moisten my finger and wipe the eye of the needle. Don't ask me why but I read it somewhere and it works. Thread slides through much better.

Keep your instruction book handy. And use machine is a year old and I still am finding out neat things that it does.

Don't ever, ever, take a cup of coffee to your sewing area. :coffee: I spilled coffee on the back of my serger and it cost me a new motherboard.

Which brings me to the last thing - when you buy a new machine, tape the warranty card and the bill inside the back cover of your instruction book.

User: Clarkia
Member since: 05-05-2003
Total posts: 23
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