Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Playing with Rulers

It is so much fun to free motion quilt (FMQ) using rulers. Some people call the plastic devices used for this purpose "templates", which is probably more accurate. They are used to quilt around as a guide for the quilting designs, they are not used to "measure" anything like a ruler typically does.

Hand Quilting on the right, FMQ on the left

This quilt has been languishing since 2013. I did Stitch in the Ditch on all the black sashings, then hand quilted simple shapes along the top row so I could bind the quilt and attach a hanging sleeve. I have taught this X Block quilt several times since then, always intending to get back to the rest of the hand quilting each time I brought the quilt hone from the shop after class. Realizing that was probably not going to happen, I decided to FMQ all the remaining blocks so it can be done now, not years from now.  I have a Tutorial on this block here.

There are eight blocks in each row. I am quilting one row a day, only seven more days to go and this quilt will be done. And, sometimes, "Finished is Better than Perfect". Here is how it's going:

I LOVE this Line Tamer ruler for Stitch in the Ditch (SID).It's by Four Paws Quilting.  The channel is 1/2" wide, the right size for my Bernina Q20 Ruler Foot #96. If your ditch is straight, it works great.

 After stitching the X with the Line Tamer, I use this Sew Steady 12" arc template to do the curves on the triangles. There is Handi-Grip on the bottom of the template to help prevent slipping. It works great.

The outside triangle edge is longer than the two inside edges so I made the outside line deeper than the other two. I suppose I could have made them the all the same but I like this look. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
A finished block

The back:

A busy back is the machine quilter's best friend, until you get REALLY good.

Like most things, there are a few rulers I find myself using a lot, the others I have to think about how to use. Here are most of mine:

Here are a few more photos of Ruler Work from the Random Ohio Stars quilt I wrote about here. These were taken after the quilt was washed and dried:

And the finished quilt:

Let's Quilt!



  1. Love your quilts. I have ordered the Bernina Q20. I'm very new to FMQ, know nothing about the extra tools such as rulers. Could you give me an idea of what to start with and where to purchase them thanks

    1. Welcome, you will love your machine. I hope you are on Facebook--there is a wonderful group: Bernina Q20 Owners--just ask to join. It is where I have gotten ALL my training with this machine. Just yesterday this question was asked and lots of people gave suggestions. I got extra bobbins, there are only 5 with the machine, I got the ruler foot #96, and later bought the horizontal spool pin for stack wound spools of thread. The rulers I have bought from vendors at shows--the Bernina set is made up of rulers from different companies , I think. You only need a couple to start out, a straight edge and a curve will get you started. Watch lots of YouTube videos--that will help you decide what you like. Another excellent Facebook group is Sit Down Free Motion Quilters--they have an amazing "class" in the Files--I am eager to work on that. The Line Tamer ruler I bought from Patsy Thompson's website, it is also available from the designer Four Paws Quilting--I love that one for sure.

  2. How do you baste your large quilts?

    1. Safety pins though that's not my favorite--I have a tutorial on how I do it here on the blog, under Tutorials. I like basting spray for smaller quilts. I never seem to get the back completely flat then spend lots of time trying to smooth out the wrinkles.

  3. I do a little ruler work now and then and I just used the link you provided to order my own Line Tamer! Thanks for the info, Barbara. Looks great!

  4. Thanks for sharing your take on the rulers. Any tool that helps us to the finish is worth it!

  5. Very useful information. I kinda fear rulers, lol. Not too good at math. 'Love the Random Ohio Stars quilt. Those colors and quilting are beautiful :)