The Free Motion Quilting Project: Machine Quilting a Star Block with Rulers

Monday, October 26, 2015

Machine Quilting a Star Block with Rulers

Last week we learned how to piece a 6 pointed star block using the beautiful fabric from this month's Quilty Box. This week I decided to continue the challenge by machine quilting my star block, but I really wanted to challenge myself to try something new so I decided to try ruler quilting!

Learn how to machine quilt with rulers
Ruler quilting is the process of using a ruler or template to guide your foot so you can quilt straight lines or specific shapes very easily without wobbling all over the place. You do need a specific ruler or guide foot for this technique in order to have a wide base for the rulers to balance against.

Learn how to machine quilt with rulers
I used the Drunkard's Path cutting templates from my Quilty Box as the guides for quilting the center of my block. All those perfect echoes and straight lines were entirely created from the edges of one cutting template! See how I quilted this star block with rulers in this quilting video:


A great resource to learn more about ruler quilting is Amy Johnson's Craftsy class Quilting with Rulers on Your Home Machine. You can sign up for this class and learn all about getting a ruler foot for your machine, how to work with different rulers or templates, and tips for managing bigger quilt projects. Click Here to learn more about Quilting with Rulers.

I did demonstrate this on my Juki 2200 QVP-S because it came with a ruler foot and I have found it easier in the larger arm of this sit down longarm. Click Here to find my review of this machine.

Learn how to machine quilt with rulers

I'm still mastering the basics of ruler quilting and maintaining a consistent stitch length is the biggest challenge. Sometimes I push the quilt through the machine nice and steady and other times I push it through super fast. Even though we're quilting with a ruler guiding the foot, the same rules of free motion quilting still apply. You still have to maintain that balanced ratio between the speed of your hands and the movement of your machine to create beautifully balanced stitches.

Learn how to machine quilt with rulers

I really enjoyed mixing ruler quilting and free motion filler designs in the background of the star block. It's a beautiful combination of straight lines with pockets of crazy texture peeking through.

It's tough to quilt on this small scale with the ruler foot on the machine though. I really wish the ruler foot was designed so you could pull off a bit to quickly convert it from a ruler foot to an open toe darning foot on the fly. As that is probably logistically impossible, I guess I'm just going to have to get more practice!

Have you ever tried ruler quilting? Does it look easy or harder than regular free motion quilting? Share your experience with this technique in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

15 comments:

  1. I really enjoying quilting with a ruler! I don't know if you mind me posting a couple of brands, but I really enjoy the ones from Top Anchor as well as Quilter's Apothecary. My stitching looks so much nicer - and it's fun!

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  2. Amy's class is great! It's all her fault I'm trying it now. :D

    I do find it a step up from regular FMQ, and it is more efficient that using your walking foot, doing straight lines first, then swapping feeT to FMQ.

    But once you get the hang of it, it really kicks it up a notch in terms of complex looks.

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    1. My fault?! Yep, guilty (or is that quilty?) as charged.

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    2. This is a great idea. I'm sure you can do this with the straight stitch instead of free motion to get a perfect stitch length. The curves are gradual or straight, perfect for straight stitching.

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  3. I loved quilting with rulers on my Brother PQ-1500S, but then sold it and purchased the Singer S18 Studio so I could have one machine for both piecing and quilting - and found that the Singer's FMQ feet "hop" instead of glide - making ruler work very difficult (they hop high!). So....I ordered the Janome Convertible FMQ foot set for low-shank machines together with the FMQ Frame Feet (one has a 1/4 inch wall and one is open toe). From what I see - once I add these to my Singer, my FMQ feet will glide instead of hop - and I should be back to using rulers regularly!!! PS. I love your new Juki - it's beautiful!!!! Huge throat!

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  4. Hi Leah
    Where can I purchase the rulers and foot - my machine is a Bernina.
    Thanks
    Jen

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    1. Hi Jen, check out Amy's shop; she carries a selection of rulers. http://amysquiltingadventures.com/

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  5. I've just gotten started with ruler quilting. What fun! I use my regular machine. I got the ruler foot and some templates from Westalee. I love it.

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  6. I forgot to say Amy's class is wonderful!

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  7. What brand of sticky tape are you using? I'm not very happy with the stable tape by Westalee.

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  8. Yes to ruler work, what a great alternative for our FMQ exercises. I find it does stress out my neck and have to remind myself to take a break. I'm using the Janome convertible foot and find it a little off center but love the straight lines it is enabling me to quilt...thanks Leah and Amy for showing everyone more things to play with.

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  9. Leah I enjoyed your video on ruler work great ideas on the star! The BBQA would have been much easier with rulers most of it anyway. I have already signed up for Amy's class and purchased the Westalee ruler foot and rulers from Sew Steady.com. I also have a Singer S18 it works well with the ruler foot after I adjusted the heigth with out anything covering the sewing space, until then I was getting skipped stitches and thread breaking. theres a video on you tube a gal with an old singer showed how she adjusted the foot to eliminate this problem and it worked perfect for me...

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  10. I have just started working with rulers, and I can thank Amy. Her class is great and she has been so generous with her tips and videos on her blog as well. There is a learning curve (at least for me there is), but I do like the look it gives my quilts. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  11. I'm new to quilting...do I need a special machine or will my regular one be ok? Thanks, Jude

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  12. Have just purchased the ruler foot from Cottonpatch. Its pretty new to the uk and I love it. Having lots of fun and am waiting the arrival of the sampler set of templatesMy Husqvarner h class 600e requires a low shank foot. Works perfectly.

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