And we’ll have fun, fun fun…..

These arrived……

…..SIX new Westalee rulers designed to make wonderful wreath/circular designs!!!!

I immediately pulled out the first one and started playing!!! My first choice was the Spin-E-Fex #11…..

I was happy to see that each ruler came with a long strip of grip tape!!

I started out with the one of the simplest designs that can be made with this this ruler…..

This was quilted by placing the more rounded point at the center of the block…..

….and stitching all the way around the ruler….

When you get back to the center, you simply line the ruler up on the next registration mark……

….and sew again!!

The second design that I made used the same ruler but alternated which end was placed at the center…..

The final design used 16 registration marks and quilted each round with the ruler in the same orientation. I had one small slip-up but it still looks good…..

These are only a few of the designs that can be done with this one ruler…..and I have FIVE other new ones to play with after that!!!

FMQ with rulers is NOT for the faint hearted!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been working on the quilting for my Brown Stripe Quilt. I decided to do the entire quilt with rulers in the hopes that I will become more proficient as I go. Having said that, this is a nice quilt and I really don’t want to ruin it with poor quilting!!

With that in mind, I started making a list of things that I need to do EVERY TIME that I set up for FMQ with rulers. It looks like this…..

Without this list, I forget important things that made the quilting not work well….as you will soon see!!

I spent a fair amount of time playing with designs for the brown stripes…..

….and finally decided that I wanted to put a Chevron type design in each.

With the first few, I physically marked the center line of each block and also the starting square, but after using the ruler for a while, I noticed that there were perpendicular guidelines……

……that I could use for the first set of chevrons meaning that all I needed to mark was the center line and the mid point of the block.

When I started with the first block, my thread broke FOUR times and I moved too far off the line once meaning that I had to restart the quilting five different times and then tie off and bury the thread tails…..UGH!!! At this point I was having serious doubts about whether I wanted to use rulers anymore!!

I then remembered my list (from above) and started working thru the different items on it. First I realized that I hadn’t grabbed the Supreme Slider which made it hard to move the fabric around.

Then, I realized that I didn’t have the foot pressing hard enough on the quilt sandwich which was probably causing the thread shredding!!!

See….I should have looked at my list to BEGIN with!!!

The second block only had three new starts and the third block only had one. Fortunately, the next 12 went fairly smoothly so now I have accomplished 15 with 33 left to go.

One problem that I have been dealing with is skipped stitches and subsequent thread shredding when I am traveling a certain direction. I think it is happening for one of two reasons. Either I am not comfortable going in that particular direction so am jerking the quilt sandwich more OR it is moving in a direction that is opposite to how my needle is threaded, causing the thread to pull. As I work on the last 2/3rds of the blocks, I am going to try shifting my quilt sandwich slightly before I start traveling in that particular direction to see if I can alleviate the problem.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I was trying to quilt the designs from top to bottom which meant that it was hard to see where I was going…..

Switching to a horizontal orientation made a lot of difference…..

So tomorrow I am prepped and ready to quilt a bunch more of the blocks…..

So, if someone hears screaming coming from Bishop, Georgia, just remind me to check the list!!!

ADDENDUM…..

I have finally figured out what is causing all of my problems!! The areas where the thread is shredding correspond to where the backing has been majorly pieced. It seems that when there are SO many seams to sew thru it messes with the tension and also the action of the needle!!! Here is the front and back…..

When I pieced this back, I was determined to use up all of the strip sets that I had left over. Next time I will keep things super simple!!!!

Tomorrow I will finish the quilting on the stripes, even if it means dealing with lots of stops and starts. Hopefully the designs in the light color areas wont be as hard to do since there wont be as many seams to deal with.

I am SUPER relieved to know what was causing my issues!!!!

Storage Solution

As I have increased my stash of machine quilting rulers, finding a way to store them has become problematic. Originally I had them in the bottom drawer of the storage unit next to my machine. That worked fine, but it was almost impossible to find the ONE ruler that I wanted to work with.

I put the question on the “Quilting with Rulers” Facebook group and they provided a number of possibilities but none of them was the perfect solution. Then I started searching on Amazon and found the perfect solution for the smaller rulers…..

They fit well and I noted the type of ruler on each of the tabs so they will be easy to find and easy to return to their spot…..

Even better is that the files can be securely closed…..

….and fit flat in my drawer…..

The few longer rulers fit well on the other side of the drawer.

PROBLEM SOLVED!!!!

Quilting around the border

In an effort to continue the practice of using rulers for Free -Motion quilting, I brought another top home from our guild Charity bee…..

I hung it on my design wall for a few days and fairly quickly decided exactly what I wanted to do!!

I started with a big flower in the center and then started adding diagonal borders flowing out from the middle. The reason that I wanted to do borders was because of a Christmas present that I received last December……

…..the Westalee Border Sampler Template set.

I spent a lot of “treadmill time” watching videos about how to use these rulers and found them to be extremely simple and effective!!

The first border that I quilted was the Continuous Heart…..

Next was the Braid…..

Then came the continuous loop

…..and finally the continuous fill pattern……

The final quilt design was pleasing and I did learn a lot in the process…..

I did learn one other thing with this project. When I quilted the first big flower in the center of the quilt, I had trouble with the foot dragging on the seams. But, when I moved the foot up higher, then the tension started messing up. I thought back to the last project (Meadow Art) and remembered that I had successfully changed the bobbin tension many times and it produced no dire effects, so I increased the bobbin tension with my quilting and it fixed all of the tension problems.

One other comment……..

As I have been watching videos and learning about the various rulers, I have noticed that the Westalee company goes for accuracy. Each ruler has lots of registration marks designed to help you keep everything in line.

The rulers designed by Angela Walters seem to be designed for fun quilting…..not that you cant be accurate with them, but they are designed for you to get on with the job!!

I can see where each type of ruler can be useful and actually like that I have options depending on what effect that I am trying to convey.

Of course, the only problem is that I can easily start accumulating quilting rulers in the same way that I do with fabric or threads and THAT is definitely a ……

A little bit of ditch stitching

As I was working on the charity quilt and practicing free-motion quilting using rulers, I played with using a straight ruler for stitching in the ditch.

Previously, I had felt like it would not be easy to keep the stitching IN the ditch, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results……

I can see this being especially helpful when I need to travel from one area on the quilt to another one!!

S-Curve Ruler for FMQ

I have been talking about the charity quilt that I quilted and used the time to practice free motion quilting using rulers. The first border that I quilted was using the S-Curve ruler from Angel Oak Stitchery…..

It took me a while to figure out how to use this ruler but it ended up being super simple to use and I love the design that it gives.

Here is a video showing how it works……

When I was exploring demonstration videos of using this shape, many of them used these lines as the spines for feather patterns. That would be interesting….something I need to try at some point.

So, one border is done…..three to go!!

Long Weekend fun!!!

Even though every day sort of melts into the other days, it was sweet to have an OFFICIAL 3 day weekend, and making it more fun was the fact that I spent almost the entire time in my studio!!!

Last week I visited the Charity Bee from our guild and picked up a quilt top with the idea that I was going to use it to further practice ruler machine quilting. It was the perfect quilt as it was smaller (33×40) and had 20 six inch blocks for me to play with. I decided to do most of them using different techniques and was so pleased with how they turned out.

I started with the easiest one…..the Square spiral that I have already shown here…..

After that I used a few of the rulers for their “intended” purpose……

The I just started playing around with the rulers. If I got stuck and didn’t know how to continue with one ruler, I would pick up another one and add something with it……

When I got to the sashing I had fun playing with Angela Walter’s ruler named “Chevy”. Here is a video of the process that I used to quilt the sashing….

After I had finished all of the quilting, I realized that this particular sashing design added another design element to the quilt which made me SO happy…..

For the borders, I quilted each one using a different technique and ruler and have made a video with each. I will post those over the next few days.

This is the finished quilt…..

It is sweet and cuddly and I am happy to know that some young child will enjoy the comfort that can only come from having a quilt of your own!!!

AND….many thanks to Sue L. for allowing me to quilt this top that she so lovingly pieced together!!!

It was an “ARGGHHH” sort of day!

On Saturday, I had one goal….finish quilting a piece that I started several years ago. I had been excited to use some of my new-found ruler technique and Thursday I had tried it out on one of the borders. I didn’t do any measuring nor really try the pattern so it was an unmitigated disaster!!.

On Friday night, I patiently pick out ALL of those stitches including all of the places that I had traveled over previous stitches.

When I started working on it again, I decided that I would do some practice and figure out the sizing of the design and do it right. This photo is three different tries with various spacings……

Once I thought that I had a good feel for the design, I tried it on the quilt. The design looked OKAY but not great and, when I looked at the back, I could see that the tension was horrible, so I picked it out AGAIN!!

Now I moved back to a practice piece and started trying every ruler that I could find and every 5 to 10 inches the thread would jump and wrap around the needle and, of course, cause a huge thread nest. Believe me, there were MANY spicy words spoken!!

I was describing what was happening to my husband, Michael, and had the thought that I needed to go thru my list of settings and see what was different. What I found was this……

The ruler foot has a spring at the back with a thumb-screw on top.

This determines how close the circular foot is to the fabric. If it is too close, it binds the fabric against the machine and it can’t move. If it is too high, the fabric moves around too much and the needle and bobbin thread cant nest properly and THE THREAD GOES HAYWIRE!!!

HURRAY….I figured out the problem.

At this point, there was no way I was going to work on an actual quilt so I spent the next 30 minutes just quilting all over my practice piece. This is what frustration looks like…..

At lunch, Michael mentioned that he needed to make a stand for a piece of steel that is used to protect equipment that he needs when doing firearm reviews. As we talked about possibilities, I started channeling my Dad (who loved to do projects like this) and thinking about how to build one from leftover lumber in the garage. Now the challenge was on!!!

I got all of my tools out…..

….and yes that is a quilting ruler!! I mean, what else does a quilter use when she wants to draw a straight line!!!

In a little over an hour, this was my accomplishment…..

It works perfectly and at least I accomplished something for the day. It is always amazing how the act of creating something makes my day!!

Tomorrow I will tackle the borders again…..maybe……or maybe I will start a new project!!

Stay tuned!!

Ruler Machine Quilting – Day 3

Since I had such good luck working with the straight rulers, today I decided to try out one of the other rulers that I already own. This time it is a Westalee ruler in a flower petal design…..

The first thing that I tried was an all-over fill design that I saw Angela Walters demonstrate. You start by quilting around the design once……

And then, without moving the ruler, you backtrack around a little ways…..

Next you turn the ruler at an angle and repeat the process. After a few minutes, I had an entire section filled with these designs……

Looking at this I realize that I need to add more variety in the angles so that it doesn’t look as much like one long strip.

Speaking of long strips, I tried doing a border design and ended up with this…..

By keeping the ruler completely still, it is so easy to backtrack…..you can see that I messed up once!!

Next I wanted to try making a “leaf wreath”. When I was watching another video about using one of these rulers, she talked about the hole for the tack…..there’s a hole for a tack???? Oh that is why the ruler set came with 2 tacks!!!

Well look at that!!! By centering this hole over the tack it means that the ruler freely turns in a 360 degree circle!!!

Now for the hilarious part…… in November of last year I was practicing ruler quilting using a charity quilt and I talked about using a tack when working with a circle ruler and showed this photo…..

Notice that the tack is facing down which really worried me because I was afraid that I would scratch my machine. Today I learned that the tack is supposed to be inserted at the back with only the point on the quilt surface!!!! Well that makes a LOT more sense!!!

I started playing with the design with this being my first attempt…..

Not too bad for a first try….just a few sections that I needed to work on.

On about the 4th or 5th attempt, I made a video of the process…..

This has been another fun experiment and I am looking forward to using these new-found skills in a future quilting project!!!

Ruler Machine Quilting – Day 2

To quote Herman’s Hermits…..”Second verse, same as the first”!!

Today I drew out two 6.5 inch squares (because that is what fit on the practice piece) and did two more Square Spiral designs. The first was a 3/4 inch spiral and the second a 1 inch spiral…..

The only problems that I had were in one corner and I believe that was because I was right at the edge of my fabric and couldn’t get a good hold to help move the fabric properly …..

For these long lines of quilting, I have been using a ruler that I purchased at our last guild quilt show…

It is made by “Angel Oak Stitchery” and you should check out their online store for more well made rulers.

At the gym this morning I watched two videos….one by Angela Walters showing how to use her ruler named “Sid” (gotta love that she gives each of her rulers a name)!!!

There are a few things that I really like about this ruler. First of all, having all of the registration lines is amazingly helpful. Secondly, the lips on the outside of the rule (at the bottom in the photo) help to line up exactly 1/4 inch away from where you want to stitch…..

Sid is upside down here…..sorry

So if I have this mark lined up in both places then I know that I will be stitching directly on the line as I move down the ruler. This makes traveling over existing stitches so much easier and accurate.

The final thing that I like about Sid is that he has a rough surface on the back side which helps to grip the fabric as you quilt. On the other rulers that I own, I have had to add my own non-skid tape to it.

The second video that I watched while I Eliptical-ed (is that a word) was from Natalia Bonner. She showed another straight line design for borders and I decided that I would give it a try.

The first step was to draw out my faux quilt

Ignore the horizontal line on the right!!

….consisting of 2 four inch blocks, a 1.5 inch inner border and a 3 inch outer border.

I made a few registration marks just so I could tell when the edges and centers of the blocks would be and then started sewing, using SID this time.

The thing that I found hardest initially was to figure out where to hold the ruler to make the needle end up in the right position…..

How do I hit that blue mark???

….but it did get easier with practice.

I started with the design that Natalia had demonstrated…..

….and then kept adding on and on and on and on……..until I ended up with this design…..

Except for a few thread breaks, the entire piece was quilted in one continuous session.

What did I learn……

  • using the markings on SID made easy work of keeping the lines straight
  • I need to figure out how to keep the spacing correct when using straight line fillers. This was easier when I spaced them 1/4 inch apart because I could use the ruler foot as my guide…..
when I could see the last sewing line just outside of the ruler foot that means that it is a correct 1/4 inch.
  • I often struggle with how to turn the corner on a border and really like this corner treatment…..

Okay…enough practice for the day!!! Now I need to get started on quilting a few REAL quilts but will certainly feel more at east to add in some straight line designs in as I go.