Monday, September 28, 2015

Ruler work?

  Someone asked me to show them how to do ruler work on the Tiara.  I was amused until I realized they were serious.   The assumption being it was the latest "thing" in free motion quilting, and that was my love.  Ruler work is not a skill I have gone after.
  I noticed today that Patsy Thompson has put out a new DVD on her ruler work and raves about the ease of it.  I believe her, yet I am not convinced it is for me.
I have watched several  videos on youtube, read about it, and admired the results on lots of quilts.  My thinking lead me to ask myself some questions.

Echo Feet

What is required and what is the cost?
   It is a big investment.   New feet are required......and then there are the rulers.

resized Ruler Work for the Sit Down Quilter Front Cover  And you might as well add in a book or two, or DVD.....or maybe a class.  All I could see was $$$.

Next question......Am I willing to invest the time to practice enough to achieve really great results?   I spent over a year practicing free motion quilting to feel confident and gain control.  Then all the extra time learning to stitch free motion feathers.....throw in another year.  Even with my skill set, I figure it would take several months to gain the co-ordination required.

Finally.......Do I want to do this much or type of quilting on my quilts?
  This was the true deciding question.....and no, it is not the look I am going for.  While I do enter my quilts in our guild's quilt show, I don't enter larger or regional shows.  And big shows, just love the overly quilted, dense forms of quilting.   I think I already "over quilt" my quilts anyway.  Heavier quilting would just make them stiffer.....and probably not show up well either.  Of course, ruler work doesn't have to be just seems to be the style right now.

 I make quilts to be used, and loved.  I was wonderfully reminded of this over the weekend at lunch with Chad, Amber and the beautiful Gracelyn.  She is 5 months old now and is scooting right off her Dancing Wings quilt!   Amber kept saying how much they have enjoyed the quilt and cart it everywhere she goes.   That's the highest compliment to my mind.

 So no....I chose not to do the ruler work.  Please note I did not say "never".  Experience has taught me, that the moment I say never......the universe will change, the earth will tilt on its axis, and I will have to eat my words.  For now, I am quite content with my free motion skills, and simply taking the path that suits me.

Update.....I just read LuAnn's post today.    She talks about some simple quilting designs that work.  Just thought i would share.


  1. Your free flowing feathers and other quilting motifs are so pretty, I think you may have found your signature style already.

  2. My FMQ journey is so similar to yours; it's amazing! So much of what you have written today could have been written by me! I have tried the ruler work on my domestic machine and I don't think it's for me either. I totally agree that my quilts are for being used and loved. In fact I usually add a little love to each quilt I make by free motioning the word 'love' somewhere on the quilt. ~Jeanne

  3. I've been seeing a lot about ruler quilting and considered it, but I agree with everything you said, rulers have a more rigid look and I like flowing, some of the looks I do like, but I think I can do them without a ruler, would they be perfect? probably not but I've never looked for perfection in my quilting. Plus some of what I've seen looks like you need three hands to control the ruler and the fabric, since I'm not a monkey and can't use my feet to help, I think I'm out. LOL.

  4. Maybe when I fully retire I can begin to get serious about free motion quilting. I know that practice makes perfect but I'm not sure I'm ready to put in that much practice. I love what you do with yours. Thanks for the link to LuAnn. The wavy lines have given me thoughts.

  5. I like the free flowing and less densly quilted quilts. Cuddly and useable where at a show quilt is just that - a show quilt. There is so much you can do with your walking foot on your home machine - people need to play. And I use Angela Walters' dot to dot method at times. Mostly - I just go for it and have fun.

  6. Amen! I'm still working on improving my FMQ.. My area of concern is that when people use FMQ or rulers that it enhances the piecing AND SHOWS OFF THE DESIGN...At many shows, time and again, I see quilts that are quilted and neither the piecing nor the quilting really shows well, it's JUST quilted....

  7. I saw that Patsy was releasing the DVD on ruler work. I checked into it much the same as you did and said "too much money for the feet, rulers etc." I have already spent quite a bit on learning FMQ.
    I already tend to quilt too densely on some things, so I don't need or want to enable myself. Sometimes the simpler quilting is the perfect answer.

    1. I'm with you. While I admire the talent of those quilters who densely quilt (with or without rulers), it's not the look I'm going for.

      Those who want to explore ruler work might check out Amy Johnson at
      She has tons of tips and hints for ruler work and FMQ on your domestic machine and she has a new Craftsy class on the topic.

  8. You do not need to use Rulers, your quilt designs are Beautiful, all of them that I have seen, I hope one day to be 1/2 as skilled as you are!! Thanks for the Blog, I look forward to it so much!

  9. Everything you said is true--however, there are some instances where I want to do ruler work--not for the dense quilting, but for the precise lines.
    Amy, at Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures, just released a Craftsy Class on quilting with rulers on a home machine. I see MissPat has mentioned it, above. I just signed up for it while it was half price. I want to see what I can do with rulers, when I feel the quilt calls for them. I have done some curved cross-hatching, and I really like the effect in side setting triangles. You determine how close or far apart you want your lines, so it is as dense as you choose.
    Yes, the foot was pricey, and so are the rulers, but I have gathered the needed supplies a little at a time. I'll keep you posted on whether or not I think it was worth the investment. : )

  10. While I appreciate dense quilting in show quality quilts, the quilts I make are for using. Quilting them with a pretty loose free motion meander or long wavy lines seem to work nicely. After a go in the washer and dryer they are puffy, crinkly, soft and cuddly. Simple quilting allow the colors and block patterns to catch the eye. Thank you for a thought provoking post.

  11. So well said!!! Stay true to who you are. Uniquely yourself. Thinking your way to clarity. Content with yourself and where you are in your life. Peace.


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