The Free Motion Quilting Project: Ruler Work Quilting on Sheri's Road Work Quilt

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ruler Work Quilting on Sheri's Road Work Quilt

Time for a new quilting collaboration! My friend Sheri from Whole Circle Studio has sent me a super cool mini quilt called Road Work.

Isn't this neat? It's such an iconic design based on the lines painted on a road. I love how Sheri took something we see every day (a cross walk on a road) and turned it into a cool quilt!

Sheri has created a quilt pattern for Road Work so you can create a mini, throw, twin, and queen sized quilt with this simple, yet striking design. Click Here to check out the pattern.

So the big question do we quilt it?

I'll be honest, out of all the collaborations I've done this year, this one was the most challenging! I think it's because I love the piecing design of Road Work so much and I don't want to distract from the road theme of the quilt.

I debated using lots of different designs. I considered collage style quilting and all over style quilting, and ultimately I kept coming back to straight lines running down the length of the road.

But jeez...just straight lines? Really Leah? You can do better than that!

Ahem. Excuse me. My inner critic is feeling a bit opinionated over my design choices. Straight lines are awesome, but there was so much open space on this quilt it felt like a waste not to do something interesting in the upper part of the quilt.

I just so happened to be working on a new batch of designs last week and finally found the inspiration I've been looking for. I call it Split Personality - beautiful combination of straight lines and curves!

So how did this work on Sheri's Road Work Quilt? Watch the video to see for yourself!

I used my ruler foot and Dresden Plate templates to quilt the straight lines in this quilt, then set the ruler aside when I was quilting the curves. You could also quilt this design with your walking foot and with regular free motion quilting too.

Spacing the lines this perfectly was a challenge and sometimes I found myself switching the ruler to both sides of the foot to make sure it was centered perfectly as I quilted the straight lines.

It really is a testament to Sheri's awesome piecing skills because this design worked out exactly right!

It's funny, but as I was quilting this I realized the straight lines flowing into curves were a good symbol for this quilt. In life we have moments of straight lines - easy, effortless days where everything seems to click and flow.

And sometimes life throws a curve in the mix and you've just got to keep driving and work through it.

Working through it is exactly what I did with this quilt. I had a lot of fears crop up with this quilt - fear of messing it up, fear of being judged for a simple quilting design, fear of letting myself and Sheri down.

Here's something interesting I heard on an HBR Ideacast recently: A whole person is not all good things. Creative people tend to have fear and anxiety about their work.

For years I figured with enough effort I could squash my fear and stop running through angsty periods where I judge everything I do as second class. Now I realize that one comes with the other. I cannot use the creative side of my brain without also experiencing the fearful side of my brain too.

It also helps to have a deadline. You can't run and hide forever! Deadlines work really well for me because I'm forced to pull on my big girl panties and get the work done.

I hope you've enjoyed hearing this story and understand you're not alone if you fear messing up your quilts. Just flow with it!

Don't forget to check out Sheri's website and her new Road Work pattern.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - Did I mention Sheri sent me two Road Work quilts? For the second quilt I challenged myself to let go of my fears and have a fun machine quilting adventure. Click Here to find the video on quilting this quilt!


  1. Thanks for all your hard work and offering so much information on the internet! Do you prefer the ruler on the right or left of the needle? Just curious. I have started doing some ruler work and have done both, just wondering.....

  2. What I appreciate the most about this blog entry is the comparisons of potential quilting design candidates. There are lots of how to, but less on choosing designs. Sometimes I wonder if that is because the quilting police comes with the "there is no quilting police." But the artist in me want guidelines. I can still do my own thing, but more efficiently when I have some knowledge of my choices and what they do for my work.

    Thank you for an excellent entry.


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