Do you want to make your own over sized ruler growth chart? Check out my tutorial below and download your Free growth chart stencil SVG.
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Growing up my grandparents had a cottage on a lake not far from the city we lived in. Every weekend in the summer, as many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, as could fit would cram into the cottage to spend time together. Some of my most favourite memories as a child took place at that cottage. In the kitchen there was a column by the table that my family had marked everyone’s heights over the years.
Every spring when we opened up the cottage for the season I remember checking how much I (and my cousins) had grown since the year before. It was so much fun comparing our heights and seeing the different dates and markings that spanned two generations over 30+ years.
As everyone got older and started getting busy with their own activities and lives, my grandparents made the difficult decision to sell the cottage. I was 18 the last time I was there, and at that age I wasn’t interested in taking pictures of that column with all our heights recorded. Obviously my grandparents weren’t able to remove the column to take with them so that little bit of our family history was lost to the new owners. Now that I’m grown and have children of my own I find myself wishing I could see those marks again.
When my oldest daughter was born our growth chart was just a paper one taped to the back of her bedroom door. After a couple of moves the chart was starting to rip, and after adding 2 more daughters to our brood it was time for a new chart that we could record all their heights on. Because we’ve always rented our homes I didn’t want to do something permanent. There was no way I was leaving it behind like we had to with the one at the cottage. I started my search on Pinterest as always and quickly fell in love with over sized ruler growth charts!
The first chart I made was before I had a Cricut so it was all done by hand. I painted the board with chalkboard paint and used my favourite tracing method for the numbers. For the ruler marks I used a measuring tape to mark out all my lines and used a paint pen to make the lines.
After a couple of years I decided I wanted to make a stained growth chart instead, to match our decor better. Since I was starting over from scratch I decided to make a tutorial to share with others how to make your own over sized ruler growth chart with my free stencil.
– 1 piece of wood – I used a board that was 5.5″ wide x 6 feet tall, and 3/4″ thick.
– Sandpaper or Sander
– Stain or Primer and Paint
– Accent paint (I like to use chalk paint)
– Sealer (make sure you use water or oil based, depending on the paint/stain you use)
– Measuring Tape
– Cricut or other Cutting Machine
– Stencil Vinyl
– Transfer Tape
– Weeding Tool
– Scraping Tool
1. Sand your board. I sanded mine with 80 grit, then 20 grit, and finished off with 220 for a nice smooth finish which helps the wood take the stain better, and also makes it easier for the stencil to adhere with less paint bleeding.
2. Stain/Paint your board. I was making a couple of growth charts at the same time so I used a few different stain colours (listed below). Do a couple of coats until you reach the desired shade you like. If painting your growth chart start off with a primer and then do 2-3 coats of your chosen paint colour.
3. Once your stain or paint has fully dried add a coat of sealer to your growth chart.
4. Prepare your stencil. The stencil is designed to be 12″ tall by 2.5″ wide. (Sometimes Design Space uploads the file too large, this can be easily fixed by clicking on the stencil in the layer panel and changing the height dimension back to the original 12″.)
To cut your stencil with a Cricut you will need to use a 12″ x 24″ cutting mat as the cutting area is over 11.5″. Cut 6 stencils (for a board 6 feet tall). Add more or less depending on your chosen board height.
Note: This growth chart is designed to start with the 1/2 foot marking at the bottom of the board. This allows clearance to hang the chart on the wall above baseboards. If you intend to have your growth chart on the floor you will need to cut an extra stencil and cut 2 of them in half so they start/end at the foot marking.
5. To make the numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6) on the chart choose which font you want to use and adjust the size to how big you want them in Design Space. My numbers are usually 2.5″ tall by 1.5″ wide. Create 6 rectangles that are slightly bigger then your numbers and slice each number out of each rectangle. If you want to add any additional text (a quote or family name for example) use the same method to make the stencil).
6. Cut your stencils and weed out the pieces that will be painted. Apply transfer tape to your stencils.
7. Start by applying your stencil at the bottom of the board. There is an extra notch on the bottom of the stencils which is used to line up the other stencils. For the first stencil line up the bottom of the stencil (not the notch) with the bottom of your board. I usually allow the stencil to overhang the edge by about 1/4″ and put masking tape along the entire edge to keep a nice straight even line. Use your scraping tool to ensure the stencil is fully adhered down with no air bubbles.
8. Apply your second stencil, lining up the notch along the bottom with the top of the previous stencil (if you look closely in the 1st picture above you can see where the seam meets between the 2 stencils). I also usually apply masking tape on this seam to ensure no paint bleeding. As you go along placing your additional stencils use your measuring tape to ensure your lines (the centre of each notch) are staying at the correct height measurements.
9. Once you are happy with the placement of your stencils you are ready to start painting! Using a small brush, or sponge, apply light coats of paint to your stencil. To prevent bleeding you should be dabbing the brush in an up and down motion instead of just brushing the paint straight on. Apply 2 or more coats depending what is needed, allowing to dry between each coat. If you are using light enough coats your paint where you started should be dry by the time you’ve finished painting the entire stencil.
10. After painting your last coat you can start carefully removing your stencils. If your board was uneven, or your stencil not tightly adhered, you may find you have paint bleeding in those areas (you can see in the images where I got some paint outside the edges of the stencil). Depending on the type of paint you used this can be a simple fix. I use chalk paint as my accent colour as it is easy to correct any mistakes with some water and q-tips.
And that’s it! It may seem like a lot of steps but it’s actually quite simple once you get going. When you are ready to hang your growth chart you have a few of different options for hanging: add hanging hardware, use a router to cut a keyhole, or use adhesive hanging strips that are made for heavier items.
You can use various methods for writing your child’s names and dates on the growth chart. On the black chalkboard painted one I used a white gel pen, and for my new brown chart I am planning on using a fine point Sharpie pen. If you need to catch up on some dates and heights you can usually find that information at a few different sources. I transferred my eldest daughters heights from the original paper chart we had. For heights that I was missing, and to catch up with my younger daughters heights I referenced the growth chart on their immunization records, as well as checked with their family doctor to obtain important height milestones that they had on file from check ups. You may also have this information recorded in their baby books or other such growth tracker.
Have you made your own over sized ruler growth chart? Let me know how it went in the comments! If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps please let me know by replying below or using the Contact Me form.