Another Ruler Work Border Design

June 24th, 2017
I can’t stop playing with this stuff!  This design couples curves and straight line quilting in the same border swag design.  It starts out as a basic arched swag border design with a scant 1/4 inch channel.  I used my PTD 12 arc ruler for this.  The next step is to add the straight line channels and I used the PTD straight lie ruler for that.  There is a 1/4 inch channel, then a 1/2 inch channel, then another 1/4 inch channel.  In this next shot, you can see the framework in one arched swag and the beginning of the fill-in work on the other:
You can see that I swapped thread colors as I moved to a new zone.  That’s not necessary but I am a thread lover so it adds to the fun of stitching this stuff out.  In this next shot, you can see that more fill-in work is done:
…and then the final fill-in is added and I used my original thread color for the final section:
(Sorry about the colors changing.  The final shot is the “real color.”)

Picking Up an Abandoned Project

June 22nd, 2017
Last Fall, I created several blocks like the ones above for the center of a quilt.  I finished them up  and here’s what they looked like when I laid them out on the floor:
I added a small triangle at each of the corners of each block, and here’s how they look all pieced together:
I finally got back to it recently and started working on the first appliqued border.  Here you can see one of the borders in process:
I am lucky and can embroider more than one border at once; here is a shot that shows 2 borders being worked on simultaneously:
…and here are all 4 borders laid out on the floor:
This has been an odd month.  I spent the first part of the month traveling and teaching, so there was no time to sew outside of doing class demos.  We drove to NC last week and I was really looking forward to a few weeks of intense sewing/quilting.  When we opened our garage door, we found that a leak from the kitchen had waterlogged the ceiling in the garage (suspended ceiling of ceiling tiles) and the tiles had all broken into wet pieces and fallen down.  The insulation was soaked as well.  The floor was covered with smelly water and a “paste-like” mess from degrading ceiling tiles.  Lovely!  We went upstairs and found that about a quarter of the wood floor in the dining room was soaked, as was about a quarter of the kitchen tiles.  The culprit that caused all this was a tiny, pin-hole sized crack in the plastic tubing that carries water to the ice maker in the refrigerator.  (We have since learned this is a common problem and can be avoided by replacing that tubing with a small piece of braided steel tubing that costs between $12-$25.)  We ended up calling one of those disaster recovery teams and they rigged up this interesting system to dry things out.  Here’s a shot that gives you an idea of what things looked like from upstairs:
This was a drying/de-humidifcation process that went on for several days.  From the garage below, a small “room” was walled off and heated/dehumidified to help dry the wood and tiles that were above.  Here are 2 shots of the garage set-up:
…and here’s a shot of what was in the room:
These machines all worked for 24 hours/day and it was like being on a tarmac for many days because of all the noise.  The people who helped us were WONDERFUL (1-800-water damage)  and we are happy to say that everything really did dry out and we didn’t have to rip up the wood floors or the tiles!  It is so nice to be back to a normal routine with silence again and I am looking forward to some productive time in my sewing room!!

Lessons in Ruler Work for the Sit-Down Quilter: Experimenting with The Westalee Continuous Rope Border Templates

May 23rd, 2017




The photo above is my first experiment playing with the Westalee rope templates.  I have drooled over these Westalee continuous rope border templates for many months, but I was totally stumped by 2 issues:
1.  If I begin my rope at the miter line in a corner, how do I ensure that the design will arrive at “just the right place” (meaning the neighboring miter line)when I reach the opposite corner?
2.  Even if I get right to the miter line in the 2nd corner, how in the world do I turn that corner?
I wracked my brain, trying to figure these issues out for months, and I didn’t buy a set of templates because I just couldn’t “crack the code.”  Enter quiltshopgal, whose blog is an endless resource for information on all things quilt-related. (If you don’t read her blog, you can find it by clicking here.)  A couple months ago, she contacted me because she was writing a post about Westalee Rope Templates, and she wanted to add some info about designs I’ve made playing with their rope wreath, like the one shown below:
(The photo above is the wreath formed by using the Westalee Circles on Quilts Wreath #3 Template, which you can find in our store by clicking here.)  When I read her entire post, (which you can find by clicking here), she also wrote about the continuous rope border templates, and she had a diagram that showed the perfect way to handle the those 4 corners and the center “meetup.”  Here is the image from her blog post that blew open the world of continuous rope border designs for me:
rope template in corners
Talk about a eureka moment!  I’m going to outline the steps I took to handle the corners and “meet up” in the center.  For this experiment, I am using the Westalee 1.5B Continuous Rope Template.  (This template can be found in our online store by clicking here.) I created a “fake border” for my experiment that is 1 3/4 inches wide. (Note: This means I made my border 1/4 inch wider than the actual stitched design.  I did this on purpose because it gives me roughly 1/8th of an inch of wiggle room on each edge of the border zone.  This is my way of hedging since I know I’m human and likely to not stitch this out perfectly.  As it turned out, this paid off well for me.)
Step 1A:  Using a temporary marker, place a diagonal line in each corner at the miter   line, as well as a perpendicular line in the dead center of each of the 4 borders:
Step 1B:  Using the same temporary marker, make a line across the mid-point of the border’s width, as shown below:
The template in the photo is the one I’m using for this experiment.  If you look closely, you’ll see a dotted line etched into the template.  This dotted line is important, as you’ll be placing it directly over your midway line that moves all the way across your border.
Step 2:  Begin in the corner of your choice, and place the template so the needle will pierce the miter line AND the dotted line on the template will be directly over the temporary mid-line on your border.  The photo below shows my starting placement:
Step 3:  Following the inside edge of the template, stitch out a sequence of ropes.  When you reach the last rope you
can stitch before crossing the center line, stop stitching and end your thread line as below:
Now, before I go any further, I need to point something out.  It is a complete coincidence that the final rope cable terminates at the center point.  This was not planned and you should be prepared to have to deal with a way to connect the 2 center rope cables that don’t actually meet at the center.  You will just have to wait for another day when I encounter this for an example of how I will deal with this down the road!  For now, know that the first side is done and now we move to the opposite corner and begin just as we did before.  The only difference is that the cables are oriented in the opposite direction, so I had to flip the template over and use it in the opposite way.
Step 4:  From there, I went back to the corner and pierced my needle in the miter line, then aligned my fabric line with the dotted line on the template.  Here is how things ended up with merging rope cables at the corner and in the center:
Things weren’t quite as perfect at the center as I would like, but I disguised my error by throwing a small “fleur-de-lis” in between the center ropes:
I thought this came out great as my first experiment  with the Westalee rope templates, but I had to carry it one step further.  I swapped my thread to a Floriani gold polyester thread and hyperquilted the rope cables.  I think it gives them more of a twisting movement:
…and here’s a closeup of the center and corner meetups:
Totally fun!  Can’t wait to try this on a real quilt!  Thank you, quiltshopgal!

Vivid Color

May 20th, 2017
I finally got to start quilting the center block of this quilt (only a portion of the center block is visible here.)  This is  a machine embroidery applique quilt that was finished and basted several months ago but has not been touched in many months.  It felt great to be working with such vivid colors.  The “insides” of the pairs of blue applique swags were first stitched with ruler work to create a 2-tiered melon shape:
I used the PTD 8 and 12 arcs to create those arcs, but you could use other arc templates as well, as long as their curves are different enough to work well together.  In this next shot, you can see that the center of the melons was filled with a featherette:
In this final shot, you can get an idea of the fill design in the center-most section.  It’s a very small-scale version of “plumify it.”
This background fabric is a hand-dyed cotton sateen and it is yummy to quilt.  Can’t wait to start on the next section!

Using Ruler Work to Frame an Important Motif

May 17th, 2017
When you have an important motif (and that motif could be a quilted, appliqued, or pieced motif), you can frame it with your quilting design.  The trapuntoed feathered wreath in the center block is important, and it’s been highlighted  further through framing.  Unfortunately, the overall size of my block didn’t leave me much room for framing, but there was enough room for a small frame design.
I began by using my original temporary marks that I used to create the trapuntoed section.  The only thing new here, (and it’s hard to see), was that I added small tick marks 2 inches from either side of the short center lines:
I used those marks as my starting/stopping points and then used my PTD 8 arc ruler and PTD 6.5 ruler to create the first round of framework:
I then went back in with the PTD 12 arc to create tapered swags on the larger curves, and used the same PTD 6.5 arc on the small center arches to create a tapered swag:
If you look closely at the long diagonal soap lines in the corners, you’ll see a small tick mark about 1 inch from the swag cleavage points.  I used those tick marks as may new starting/stopping points and then took my Quilted Pineapple 22 arc ruler to add in another arc.  Once that arc was stitched, I added a new tick mark 1/2 inches down further and then used the same ruler to create a channel:
Now that all the ruler work framing has been finished, the fill in work begins.  I first added featherettes inside the widest channels:
Next, I used a dark blue thread to stipple in the zone between the wreath and the frame. This will serve to highlight both the wreath and the frame:
Lastly, I added another featherette, stitched in the same dark blue polyester thread, in the remaining space between the block’s edge and the ruler work framework.  Here is a shot of one corner as it is being stitched:
The goal in stitching these featherettes is to completely fill the empty space with the featherette.  If you do that consistently, that will give the look of identical and mirror image featherettes.  Of course,  you are stitching everything freehand, so it is not identical at all, but it will give the illusion that it is.  Here are some other shots:
You can appreciate the texture better in tangential shots:
Learning to create custom featherettes to fill spaces on a quilt is a very, very useful skill to develop.  If you are interested in learning more, this is an old blog post that talks about them a bit and you can find it by clicking here.
An even more in-depth instruction can be found in my Craftsy class called Ultimate Free Motion Feathers and you can find it by clicking here.