May 23 17

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

 

westalee-rope-border-after-HQ

O.M.G!

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:
 
COQ-wreath-3
(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:
 
rope-border-1
 
Step 1B:  Using the same temporary marker, make a line across the mid-point of the border’s width, as shown below:
 
rope-border-2
 
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:
 
rope-border3
 
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:
 
 
rope-border4
 
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.
 
 
rope-border5
 
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:
 
 
rope-border-6
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:
 
rope-border-8
 
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:
 
westalee-rope-border-after-HQ
…and here’s a closeup of the center and corner meetups:
 
rope-border9
Totally fun!  Can’t wait to try this on a real quilt!  Thank you, quiltshopgal!

5 Comments

  1. Rashida Says:

    Always wanted to try ruler quilting. Thanks for sharing

  2. Lise Dostie Says:

    Oh Patsy! Thank you so much for this mini tutorial! I purchased the rope template and really enjoy it, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn a corner either! So my first quilt I just used it I’ll say straight for the lack of words!
    I knew somehow someone would figure it out!
    I love your quilting, tutorials etc. Etc.
    You make everything look so easy! You are a great teacher!

  3. Claudia Wade Says:

    Hi Patsy – That is a great tutorial. Thank you for this. I am in the very earliest stages of learning ruler quilting and didn’t even know that rope border templates existed. But that meet-in-the-middle border technique is one I’ve used before with pieced borders if the math doesn’t play nice, and also with mirrored decorative sewing machine stitches. Beautiful border!

  4. QuiltShop Gal Says:

    Actually, thanks to you, I’ve fallen in love with Ruler Work and thoroughly enjoy combining ruler work with free-motion quilting. Love what you did with the rope ruler frame. You definitely gave it your famous touch to spice it up. Stunning. Packed with #CreativeGoodness. Thanks for sharing your tips.

    QuiltShopGal
    http://www.quiltshopgal.com

  5. Pat Says:

    Wow! Please keep the post up as long as possible, it’ll take me forever to understand it completely and I’ll have to return to it when I am ready to absorb it. Great work as usual.

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