Ruler Work

Have you been following along with me and Diane as she jumps into learning her HQ Capri? This week I’m going to take a small part of Diane’s post to comment on. If you’d like to read the entire post (you’ll be glad you did!) you can find it here.  She is having a great time learning to longarm quilt and her quilts are so much fun! I love her bright colors and improvisational piecing. I love how adventurous Diane is in her quilting and this time she gave ruler work a try. Let’s see how it turned out for her.

From Diane’s post “The View”

before ruler work Diane Harris

The pink and red flowers came next. I tried something that did not work when I quilted a flower with rounded petals. It looked like scribbling, and not in a good way. Ribbit, ribbit.

I decided to quilt straight lines inside the petals by using rulers designed for machine quilting.

Now you should know that I have resisted “ruler work” forever because honestly it just sounded like one more thing to manage. “I find machine quilting to be challenging enough,” I thought, “why make it even more difficult?”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

MB: This is where I could say, “I told you so!” 🙂 but I won’t. 

Handi Versa Tool

Ruler HQ Versa Tool

The Handi VersaTool proved to be exactly what I needed, but any straight-edge ruler for machine quilting will make straight lines.

Ruler Handi Grip

It does need to be a ruler made for this purpose, not one of your rotary rulers! Machine quilting rulers are much thicker. I added small pieces of Handi Grip on the back to help my VersaTool stay put.

Some explanations

MB: If you are a movable machine quilter Handi Grip is a good tool to help keep your rulers from slipping as you quilt. On a movable machine, you position the ruler where you want to quilt your line, keeping in mind that the needle will be 1/4 inch away from the edge of the ruler. Then you press down hard enough to keep the ruler from slipping as you glide the hopping foot along the edge of the ruler, but not so hard that you cannot move the machine. It’s a balancing act that takes approximately 3.14 seconds before you get the hang of it.

When doing ruler work on a stationary machine, it’s a whole different story. You will move the fabric and the ruler together and guide the edge of the ruler along the foot. Handi Grip is ESSENTIAL for stationary machine quilting. Without Handi Grip the ruler will slide over the fabric quite easily and we don’t want that to happen, the fabric and ruler need to move together.

There’s a good reason machine quilting rulers are thicker. When you quilt on a Handi Quilter machine you’ll notice the foot raises and lowers as the machine forms stitches, that’s why they call it a hopping foot! When the foot raises up, if the ruler was thin it could slide under the foot. Then when the foot and needle come down, the needle hits the ruler, causing the needle to break and possibly the ruler to break and possibly the machine’s timing to be thrown out of whack. That’s a sad situation because you won’t be able to quilt til you have the machine re-timed. 🙁

The other thing that can happen: if you don’t keep the ruler flat on the table or the ruler base and keep good control of the ruler it can pop up and get between the foot and the needle. Needle hits ruler, needle breaks, ruler breaks, quilter has a bad day.

HQ Sure Foot

Ruler sure foot

The HQ Sure Foot is a nice insurance policy against that happening. The taller profile of the Sure Foot provides additional stability while working with rulers. I always use the Sure foot when I’m quilting with rulers.

So back to Diane…..

The result was nice looking flowers with beautiful straight lines. I loved them.

MB: I love them too! Great job Diane!

Because this was my first try and since the quilt has a wonky theme, I didn’t worry about making each line an exact distance from the petal’s edge. I just focused on learning how to use the ruler.

MB: It really is important to be kind to yourself and to enjoy the quilting. I’m happy Diane takes a relaxed attitude and doesn’t over-worry about the results. She’s giving herself time to learn and to improve. And as you saw, if she really doesn’t like something she has quilted she can always pick it out and try again. Don’t do your practice quilting on your heirloom quilt top that you spent hours and hours piecing. You’re way too invested in that. Save it for when you become an expert.

 

I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it is! I am already looking forward to the next time I can use a machine quilting ruler.

And in my excitement I might have click-clicked and ordered a few more rulers, too!

MB: There are lots of rulers that can be used for longarm quilting, all different shapes and sizes. If you are first getting started the Handi Versa Tool is the perfect one to start with. It has 4 shapes on a single ruler so it can be used for hundreds of designs. There are design ideas on the packaging for each of the Handi Quilter rulers and if you go to the Handi Quilter YouTube channel you’ll find hours of videos on using the rulers.

Go practice and play now!