Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ruler Work--My Favorite Kind of Quilting

 The other day I presented a 2 hour Demo on Ruler Work quilting at a local shop. Barb's Sewing Center is celebrating their 20th year anniversary and this Demo Class was a gift from them to their customers.

Congratulations to Barb Martin for 20 great years

My Bernina Q20 and I have been friends for 6 years now. The more quilting I do, the better I get. What a surprise! And I love Ruler Work. Using rulers allows me to get designs that vary from good enough to great and I am satisfied with the quilting I  can do. The machine makes perfect stitches. With care, I can make pretty close to perfect shapes/designs.

Here are my favorite rulers/tools:

The LineTamer ruler makes straight lines a breeze and I am sure I use it on every quilt I work on. Grip-Its make it easy to maneuver the quilt when doing Free Motion Quilting--much better for me than gloves, rubber finger tips, rings, etc.  Amanda Murphy's Good Measure Rulers are well-thought out and have the grippy stuff on that back that really helps. Natalia Bonner's, Mini-4-in-1 and Mini Inside Out 4-in-1 are excellent. Clamshell rules can be used for lots of circular designs.

Many videos are available to help us learn. Natalia Bonner, Amanda Murphy, and Angela Walters have some of the best for me. 

Four years ago, I wrote a blog about this with details and photos: Ruler Work--the Basics

Here is some of the quilting I showed at the Demo:

I LOVE Curved Cross Hatching

Wishbone motifs and a Leaf Border

No marking, I just winged it, Pumpkin Seed and Wishbone motifs

I love the Pumpkin Seed design, often seen in Pennsylvania Amish quilts. Easy to do with circular rulers. For this one, the Clamshell ruler was the perfect size for this block: 

One of my most favorite "go-to" border motifs is a simple leaf vine, done completely free-motion. I have done it many times and now it is almost automatic, not hard for me to do. I like it in narrow borders. There is curved cross-hatch and straight line quilting in the large outer border--nearly impossible to see on a busy print, but still good practice:

I didn't have this one with me, but it illustrates the importance of trying new motifs and working on something that matters. I used different shapes/designs in each of these borders, alternating ruler work and free motion quilting. White thread on the white, navy on the dark blue. 

Use busy fabric on the back as you are learning. Doesn't that quilting look GREAT?!

The finished quilt, Spellbound, pattern by Debbie Maddy:

If you are new to machine quilting, with or without rulers, I have a few tips:

1. Move beyond muslin sandwiches quickly. The sooner you work on things that matter the better you'll get. Placemats are a great thing to practice on. As are simple donation or baby quilts . 

2. Use busy fabric on the back--starts/stops and wobbles won't show.

3. Don't blame the machine for operator error.  Understand how to set the tension correctly on your machine. Machines don't "like" or "dislike" any brand/size of thread. A quality machine can handle just about any quality thread with the proper needle and tension settings. All thread manufacturers' provide excellent educational info on their website. 

4. Practice really does help you improve. Whether you put in 20 minutes a day, every day, or work for hours on a bed-size quilt, know you will get better and don't beat yourself up for the occasional wonky stitches. Bet you won't even be able to find them tomorrow. And if they still bother you, your stitch ripper will take them out.

Let's quilt.


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