Part 2 of Ruler Work in the Round

October 28th, 2015
I was finally able to get back to this fun experiment today!  This began as my first experiment playing with the Westalee Circle Rulers:
I started by creating a series of concentric circles (this was pretty easy using their ruler system) and then I went in and began filling in with some free motion work.  (You can read Part 1 of Ruler Work in the Round by clicking here.)  I actually ended up taking out some of my stitching because the designs I made just didn’t seem to fit the space as well as I’d hoped, but I’m liking the end result.  I had to think about what I wanted to replace those designs with, so I just moved on and added the swags around the circles.  Those are easy to do.  I  used a Quilters Groove Ruler and created my first “row” of swags.  I then went and added multiple channels (a 1/4 in channel, then 1/2 in channel, then another 1/4 inch channel.)  I threw in a string of pearls inside the 1/2 inch channel and then went back in and added the remaining designs inside the  wide inner circle I’d made earlier.  Here is a shot of when the entire inner circle had just been filled.  I did this by stitching 2 different featherettes, each in an opposite orientation:
Here is a tangential shot:
My original plan for the outer circle did not pan out.  Instead, I ended up stitching a design called “fingertips.”  This is laid down very quickly and the only thing you need to pay attention to when you’re using this design is the orientation of the fingertips:
(I know the color just changed dramatically but this photo was taken in a different place than the others.)  The last thing I did was to fill the shallow swags surrounded by pearls.  I swapped to a different thread color again (just because it’s fun to have all this color) and here’s how it came out:
I had plans for another “zone” but I’m kind of running out of space here so I’m not sure if I’ll go any further with this or not.  I DO know I can’t wait to try playing on another one!

Ruler Work Demo

October 24th, 2015
If You’ve been wondering what all the “hoop-la” regarding ruler work is about, then sign up for my ruler work demo at Asheville Cotton Company next Thursday afternoon 10/29/15 from 2:00 to 3:30.  I’ll be doing ruler work demos on a home sewing machine and we’ll cover as much as we can in 1 1/2 hours!  Learn how to use straight edge and curved rulers, as well as how to couple your ruler work with free motion quilting to create intricate designs:
It’s much easier than you might think!  To reserve a spot, just call Asheville Cotton Company at 828-277-4100.  There’s an added bonus to coming to western North carolina right now.  The fall leaf views are pretty darn spectacular…

Ruler Work in the Round

October 19th, 2015



I got to spend a little time playing with my Westalee Circle Rulers last week.  (You can find them in our online store by clicking here.)  They offer 4 separate templates that can be used to make a wide range of circle sizes that can be used to create circular designs or Baptist fan designs:




To me, this circle set is like the Line Tamer Ruler except that you use these to create circles (or partial circles) instead of straight lines.  Both types of rulers/templates have a channel that holds the ruler foot, so it’s kind of an extra level of security that your stitched line will fall where you want it to fall.  I have the low shank set but I have used this same low shank template  set with my low shank, medium shank, and high shank Westalee ruler feet.



You begin by placing a small pin in the center of the block, or where you want the center of the circle to fall.  I believe the pin that came with my set is really a common thumb tack.  Once you’ve placed the pin the center, you decide which size circle you want to stitch.  The markings on the templates are for the diameter of the circle, so remember that  the distance from the center of the circle will be 1/2 the diameter.  Once you’ve made your circle size choice, you place the tiny hole at the base of the template onto the pin (thumb tack), then “lock it into place” using the small circle that has holes punched into it.  Here’s a closeup of how it attaches so you can understand this better:




(Don’t be distracted by the light green “bead-like” structures under that plastic circle.  Those are embroidered, not part of the circular attachment piece.)  Removing that plastic locking circle and swapping out templates is very easy and only takes about 4-5 seconds.  At this stage, you can easily move the template around that center axis point as you work.  Here’s what it looks like after I’ve stitched a few sizes of circles and I think you can see how this works:



I think the secret to success with this system is that you only want to rotate the template as you work; you don’t want to rotate your fabric.  (This is kind of challenging to me because I flip my quilt around a lot as I work, so it seems very unnatural NOT to move it!)  I am really eager to play with these some more because I love the thought of creating circular frames or skeletons that can be filled with free motion work.  Here are a few early shots of this:



That center design is an embroidered design that came loaded on my Destiny.  I enlarged it to about 7 inches in diameter and then worked to frame it with a circular design:




Fill-in begins!  Here you see some featherettes and also a pearl-filled channel near the center:



I had already outlined the center design with invisible thread to make the trapunto pop, but it wasn’t very striking.  I went in with a purple rayon thread that was just a bit darker than the fabric and did a small stipple to make the area around the embroidery kind of flatten a bit:



…sadly, that didn’t really make that trapunto pop very much either!  Oh well…I then hyperquilted the featherettes:




I still have a ton I want to do with this but haven’t had time to get back to it yet.  My fingers are crossed to add some new ruler work and new “fill-in” work later this week.  If you’re interested in the Westalee circle rulers for the home sewing machine, you can watch a video showing how to do it by clicking here.





My New Craftsy Class is Live!

October 12th, 2015
My new Craftsy class, called “Ultimate Free Motion Feathers” is now live and ready for viewing!  This is a really fun class that is packed full of all kinds of neat feather work!  It doesn’t matter where you are as far as your feather skill level because there is literally good info for beginners, intermediate, and advanced feather quilters.
periwinkle center 2nd border done
The class begins by teaching 4 different methods for stitching a basic, unadorned feather and even if you have all of my feather DVDs and feather book, there’s new info right in that very first chapter that you’ve not seen from me in any other platform!  We then move into all kinds of ways to manipulate feathers, decorate feathers, flow feathers, arrange feathers, etc, etc. 
There are also 2 lessons about featherettes and you’ll learn how to use these in ways you never thought you could before!  (And if you’ve been reading my blog, you KNOW how valuable featherettes can be when used alongside ruler work, so if you haven’t already taken Amy Johnson’s Craftsy class called “Quilting with Rulers on a Home Sewing Machine,” or seen my DVD called “Ruler Work for the Sit-Down Quilter,” these are must-see tutorials as well! 
My feather class ends by covering some very useful and beautiful plume-based background fill designs that are very close cousins to feathers.
Plumify It Traditional Version
Plumify It using softened heart shape
Revolving Seashell
Revolving Swirl
What are you waiting for?!  This class is fun, informative, innovative, and full of inspiration! Click here to get a $20 discount on this fabulous new class!  And the winner of the Ultimate feathers Class give away is Cecelia Young…congratulations, Cecelia!

Feathers and Rulers, and a New Video

October 9th, 2015
…fit together like a hand in a glove!  I think that one of the reasons I have become so hooked on ruler work is because it’s so easy to couple it with feather designs.  Most of the time, it’s obvious to the viewer that ruler work was involved in creating the design.  These are some examples where it’s easy to tell:
But sometimes, there’s a type of “invisible ruler work” that’s also going on behind the scenes and this type of ruler work is different from using long arm rulers with our machines.  A recent question about one of my posts really made me realize that most people are probably not getting the most out of their rulers.  When I did a post about this quilt below:
…a reader asked “How did you get those feathers to be so precise and symmetric?”  The secret to this kind of free motion quilting is to create temporary “boundaries,” or guidelines with your rulers.  As you’re working, your goal is to fill each of those boundaries completely with your feather or featherette.  Once the stitching is done, your markings are erased so the world never knows that you kind of “cheated” to get those feathers looking so symmetric.  I don’t have any in process photos from when I stitched those feathers, but this shot taken now shows the ruler close to the position and I would have simply marked along that ruler edge with a sliver of soap to make that temporary guideline:
Note that this is different from when we draw “mock-ups” of our ruler work designs because here, we don’t need to add 1/4 inch to account for the ruler foot.  What I’m trying to say is probably easier to see in this repetitious featherette border design:
(I’m referring to the blueish purple outer border zone).  These featherettes look very symmetric and it’s all because temporary boundaries were drawn by tracing along side a ruler with soap.  Here’s an example of how one of these “begins:”
That horizontal soap line is the maximal height for the swirls at the base of the featherette.  Here’s a finished featherette that’s also been hyperquilted, and you’d never know that the lines had ever been there to guide the quilting:
In a semi-related note, I’ve gotten some emailed questions about the Line Tamer ruler/template for straight line ruler work.  People aren’t sure exactly how it works, so here’s a short video that explains it:
…and one last reminder…there are just a couple more days to sign up for the give-away of my feathers class on Craftsy that is set to debut next week.  In order to enter, you need to leave a comment to my 10/2/15 blog posting that tells me what you want to learn about in the coming months.  All entries are due by 11:59 pm EDST on Sunday, October 11, 2015.  Click here to be taken to the blog post where you can enter!