Ruler Workus Interruptus

May 29th, 2016
This quilted table runner was the first time I had to deal with creating a ruler work design that was repeatedly interrupted by applique shapes.  Normally, I design ruler work designs so they surround or envelope applique shapes and the two designs are complementary but separate.  When I made the center block of this table runner, it just seemed natural that the ruler work design should spring from the center and radiate outward.  To do that, I had to figure out how to stitch this design in the face of numerous interruptions.  I’m naming this technique “ruler workus interruptus” to make it sound Latin-y and fancy, like “coitus interruptus.”  This closeup of the center area  gives a better idea of what I mean:
As you can see, stitching a framework that created the illusion of straight lines that flowed through applique shapes was the goal.  As a sit-down quilter doing ruler work, it’s imperative to hold the ruler on the quilt in a consistent position or the stitched line will diverge from its intended placement.  How can you do that if you have to keep stopping and then re-starting a new line of stitching?
I could only think of one solution, and you can see it in these photos.  It’s kind of hard to see it here in this really early shot:
…but here you can really see it:
If you’re noticing all those strands of thread, that’s what I’m talking about.  The only way I know to keep those lines straight if you’re doing ruler work as a sit-down quilter is to take a series of short stitches before and after each applique interruption and then resume at the other side of the applique, holding the ruler against the quilt in a consistent position all the while.  It looks better after the threads have been trimmed away.  (I left some short ones at the base of the ferns for comparison’s sake):
And now for the fun part of filling in that framework and adding some new lines that emanate from the center diamond:
I threw in  a swirl background fill at each of the ends, just to have a different texture:
I used an arc ruler to create the arched swags on the ends, then filled those in with small featherettes:
And the finished runner:
What’s on your machine bed these days?

“Kissed By Butterflies” Quilt is Done!

May 25th, 2016
This quilt was luscious to quilt and I’m sad that I finished her up last week.  She really made me realize how much ruler work can add to a quilt.  All the ruler work was done using basic arc rulers (mainly our starter pack arc rulers, but any arc ruler can be used to create these types of quilting designs.)  99% of the quilting was done on my home sewing machine.  Here are some close-ups of parts of it:
Here’s a closeup of the center block:
I love how the framing around the wreath of butterflies came out:
The butterflies appear very 3-dimensional, almost as if they were trapuntoed.  They’re not; that’s machine embroidery applique and if you stitch just outside the edge of all the applique shapes with invisible thread, they kind of “pop out” like that. 
 The irony of this quilt is the only reason I made it was that I needed to test out a whole lot of MEA butterfly stitch-outs, so I made that large wreath.  Once I got started, it was hard to stop.  What began as a way to use up test stitch-outs has become one of my favorite quilt projects in a long time.  I’ve already started another one!

Another Ruler Work Border Design and Some New Rulers

May 18th, 2016
I finally just stole some time from something I should have been doing a couple days ago so I could quilt.  I start feeling edgy when days go by without some free motion quilting, so I viewed this as a form of mental health for me.  Here’s a fun new ruler work border design I came up with:
You can make border designs like this using any basic arc ruler.  I used the PTD #12arc ruler (part of the ruler starter pack set, see below) for this but honestly, any arc ruler will work.  The ruler work framework or “bones” that are the basis of the design are created in 2 phases.  Here’s what it looked like after I had finished phase 1:
You can see that this section “holds” the uppermost featherette.  It’s different than most borders you’ve seen on this blog in that the channel is a highly tapered channel.  You have to be careful when you go to fill tapered channels because some designs just don’t look good when you have to alter their dimensions to accommodate a dynamic, or changing channel width.  Here’s phase 2 of the ruler work framework:
All I did here was to throw in another set of channels and the middle channel is also a tapered channel, but it’s tapered in the reverse direction as the upper wide channel.  This is where the filling in begins.  I started by stitching a featherette inside the top section.  As I did this, my goal was to completely fill that section until I got to the narrow space where things would be so small that they’d start to seem messy:
Next, I filled the other tapered channel with another featherette, but this time I made it an inverted featherette just to add more variety into the mix:
I was starting to love the design at this point.  I think you could fill in that bottom section with all kinds of neat designs, even background fill designs.  I was kind of “stuck” on featherettes, so I swapped to a  different blue rayon thread and made one last featherette for the base section:
 I could come up with ruler work border designs all day and all night; it’s very addictive to allow yourself the freedom to think about this stuff!
I’m still toying with hyperquilting that top featherette section…
In other news, I am frequently asked what machine quilting rulers I recommend for someone who is starting out in the world of ruler work.  There are millions of them available, and they aren’t cheap,so you really need to build your arsenal of rulers over a long period of time.  I must admit that I have many rulers that I use all the time as well as many rulers that I never use.  In between, there are loads of rulers that I use now and then but when I need them, they are exactly what I need.  So…how does one go about buying rulers?
I view the person starting out as a “toe-dipper.”  The hope is that you will fall in love with ruler work but you won’t know that until you’ve played with it for awhile.  Let me tell you that it will feel pretty weird at first and you will wonder why you are ‘starting all over again” with your free motion quilting!  To give ruler work a fair chance and at the same time, not “break the bank,”  I think it’s wise to start off with a good straight line ruler that’s at least 8-10 inches long and a few arc rulers of different sizes/curves.  With those basics, you will be able to create a very wider range of quilting designs.  We’ve put together a starter set that will keep you knee-deep in ruler work for a long time to come, and we are debuting our line of “ruler starter sets” for machine quilters:
Each set contains (1) 10-inch long straight ruler and (3) arc rulers of varying lengths/curves (a 6.5 in arc; 8 in arc, and a 12-in arc, seen below):
These come in both the traditional 1/4 inch thickness as well as the 3mm thickness for those folks using the Westalee low and medium shank ruler feet, so there is a set that will work for you, regardless of what kind of set up you are using to quilt.  You can find them in our online store by clicking here, and be sure to choose the ruler thickness that will work for you!  We aren’t selling these rulers individually but the price is discounted because of them coming as a set.  I looked around for a long time for a similar set when I was first starting out but couldn’t find one, so I hope these will help you out! 

Butterfly 2 Designs

May 15th, 2016
I haven’t had any time for free motion quilting in many days, so I have no new machine quilting pics to post.  I have been working on some new butterfly machine embroidery applique designs, though, so these are the first stitch out so far:
I know most of the people who follow my blog are looking for FMQ inspiration, so I’m sorry I don’t have anything new to show on that front.  The only way I have to stay n touch this week is all these MEA butterflies.  Hopefully, I will get some quilting in soon (I’m going through withdrawl…)

Used George Quilting Machine for Sale!

May 10th, 2016



You know I love my George!  If you have been thinking about buying a George sit-down long arm machine, there’s a gently used machine for sale  by Angela Huffman at Quilted Joy in Louisville, KY and she is asking $4750.  You can find out more about it by clicking on this link to her blog.


Hope to have a quilty post up soon!