Ruler Quilting 101 – Block 3

In Block 3 we will start using the Arc ruler. During the summer, when I was preparing for this series, I jotted down designs I liked and was surprised at how many used an arc pattern. So much so, that we will make at least 4 blocks using arc rulers. For this first one, we will just use two that are almost identical in the arc they provide.

So, here is Block 3: block3

Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: 12 & 13″ arc
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • whirlwind, square
    • water lily, border
    • orbit star, corner
    • cathedral window, corner

Here are the rulers I will be using: 13 inch arc ruler

  1. This is the 12″ Arc/straight edge combo ruler in the Westalee (Sew Steady) starter kit. It is 1/8″ thick, and 6″ long.
    • Markings: it has 3 horizontal lines that run parallel to the edge of the rulerthat allow for design widths of 1/4″, 1/2″, 1″ and 2″. In addition, it has 9 vertical lines including a start and finish line.
    • What I like about this ruler:  I really like having all the vertical lines. It makes it easy to divide a 6″ space into half, thirds or quarters. I also like the size when doing a small space, like the corners
    • Things that could be an issue: The size was something I liked when doing small spaces, but becomes an issue when doing larger spaces or longer lines. I will give you alternatives when we get to those spots.
  2. This is a 13″ Arc ruler by Teryl Loy Enterprises. Mine is 3/8″ thick; it also comes with a thickness of 1/4″. It has an inside curve and an outside curve.
    • Markings: This ruler also has 3 horizontal lines, but they are thicker in the center and tapered at the ends. This provides reference lines when your stitching is not going to be a consistent amount. to It has one vertical line in the middle.
    • What I like about this ruler: I really liked that the ruler had an inside and outside curve. It gives you more options. If you are tight for space, or if you have a preference to use one hand over the other, you have the flexibility to use either curve. I liked the length of this ruler for larger spaces. I also used it successfully on my low shank, small throat machine.
    • Things that could be an issue: I wish this ruler had more vertical lines. Sometimes I was guessing on the placement

Step 1: Make the basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square, lines A1, A2, A3 and A4. (same as Block #1)
  • Mark the 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance, lines B1, B2, B3 and B4. (same as Block #1)
  • Find the center of each B line (C 1-4)
  • Find and mark the center of your block (D)


Step 2: Stitch all your B lines.

Step 3: Stitch from one corner of a BB line to the center mark. Flip the ruler and stitch down to the opposite corner. Repeat the second line in the same way to/from the other 2 corners. You have now divided the center block into 4 curved sections.

Note: Remember to use your small ruler to determine your ruler placement 1/4″ away from the stitching line. This is just a little more difficult than it was with the straight ruler. I find it helps to stand the small ruler up so that the arc of your quilting ruler does not interfere with the 1/4″ measure. The picture below shows how easy it is to be off. I couldn’t get a good picture when I stood the ruler up.


Note: The Westalee ruler is not long enough to reach from the corner to the center. If you are using the Westalee ruler, you will need to start at the corner and stitch to one of the vertical marks. Then stop and move the ruler so that you can reach the center and continue stitching.

Each of the 4 curved sections will be treated in the same way. From whichever corner you ended, travel along the B line until you can place your ruler on the second line (1/2″ line) on your ruler. Sew to the center curved line, travel 1/2″ and sew back down to the boarder. Repeat this kind of echo stitch until you have the whole section filled. Then repeat for the other 3 sections. A1S3

Step 4: Make a waterlily in each of the 4 boarder sections. Using the C marks as your guide, stitch from the SA to 1/2″ on either side of the mark on the B line. Then stitch four lines to each corner square, following the diagram shown above.


Step 5: Stitch an orbit star in 2 corners, opposite from each other. A1S5

Step 6: Stitch a cathedral window in the 2 other corners. The arc on this ruler did not produce a very nice cathedral window. Since this is a sampler quilt, I might leave it so that I remember what not to do, or I might still change it using a ruler with more of an arc (like the 4″ ruler in the Westalee starter kit). A1S6

Due to a medical emergency, I did not get next week’s block finished in time to show you. Instead, I will give you a couple of recipe’s from Ken’s Kitchen.

Both of these are slow cooker recipes. I once made the mistake of telling DH that all slow cooker recipes taste the same. That was a challenge and he wasn’t happy until he found some different ones. I hope you like them.

Posted in 2017, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ruler Quilting 101 – Block Two

This week we are making Block Two of a Ruler Quilting Sampler quilt. It is not nearly as involved as Block 1 was. block2

Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: 2 1/2″ Circle Ruler (finishes as 2″ circles)
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • circles
    • orange peel
    • clamshells
    • corner flowers

Here is a picture of the rulers I have: circle rulers

  1. This is the 2 1/2″ circle ruler in the Westalee (Sew Steady) starter kit. It is 1/8″ thick and has the option of inserting a puzzle ‘key’ to close the circle.
  2. This is a 2 1/2″ circle ruler by Teryl Loy Enterprises. Mine is 3/8″ thick; it also comes 1/4″.
    • Markings: Both rulers have identical markings – horizontal, vertical and diagonal. The Westalee ruler has one additional marking to show the center of the puzzle key. You will notice I have more grip on the thicker ruler. It follows the markings – not sure yet if I should have done that.
    • What I like or dislike about this ruler: There really wasn’t anything I disliked about this ruler, although its use is more limited than some other rulers. You definitely need all the markings.

Step 1: Make the basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square, lines A1, A2, A3 and A4. (same as Block #1)
  • Mark the 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance, lines B1, B2, B3 and B4. (same as Block #1)
  • Mark the mid-point on all 4 sides. Draw a line from C1 to C3; for C2 and C4 you just need a small mark. C1S1

Step 2: Make 3 rows of circles along the line you drew from C1 to C3, starting at the seam allowance (SA) line and ending at the SA. The first row will be the middle row with 9 circles. Repeat for Row’s 1 and 3 on either side of the middle row (I left one circle off at the beginning and end of each row).

My method is taken directly from Teryl Loy’s video. (orange peel video). It is done in a row of half circles in a figure 8 going one direction, and then the other half done going in the reverse direction.

If you with to use the key provided in the Westalee kit, you can make individual circles, but you will have to bury threads OR travel over existing threads to the start of the next circle.

Note: The paper diagrams for this block were drawn with the 2 1/2″ circle ruler but stitch out at 2″ so the paper diagrams look slightly different than the quilt block. This should not affect the end product since pencil drawings are only used to indicate the stitching flow.

Step 3: To make the orange peel, you simply stitch another 2 rows of circles that overlap rows 1&2 and rows 2&3.

The ruler markings will really help you keep the circles centered. C1S3

Step 4: To make clam shells start with your C2 mark and measure 5″ to either side in order to determine your starting point. Make 5 half circles on the first row, 4 on the next, 3, 2 and then 1. This paper chart shows the flow, but for simplicity purposes it only shows 3 rows. Repeat at the C4 mark.

Step 5: Make a flower in each corner. Start where the B lines cross, and make one circle going each direction. Travel half way up any circle in order to make the center circle.

Step 6 (Optional): To define the 3″ border (so that this block is consistent with all the other blocks), I went back to the straight ruler and stitched a short straight line along the B markings, where there wasn’t a circle. C1S6

That is it for Block #2! Next week we will use the 13″ arc ruler to produce this block:block3


Posted in 2017, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ruler Quilting 101 – Block One

Finally! The day is here and we can start to play! If you have not read my previous posts, review them for prep and set-up. This week we are making Block One of a Ruler Quilting Sampler quilt:block1

Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: straight
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • straight line, short
    • straight line, long
    • matchsticks
    • diamonds
    • wonky squares
    • meandering rectangles

Here are the 3 rulers I will be using:  straight rulers

  1. This is the 6″ Fine Line ruler by Accents In Design. It is 1/4″ thick with a ‘hook’ strip already applied on the underside.
    • Markings: it has 4 horizontal that allow for design widths of 1/4″, 1/2″, 1″ 2″ and 2 1/2″. In addition, it has vertical and diagonal lines.
    • What I like about this ruler: This is my go-to ruler for short lines. It is sturdy and easy to use. I like the finger grips and I like having the vertical and diagonal lines in the middle of the ruler.
    • Things that could be an issue: While I like the finger grips, not everyone does. It makes storage more difficult. Sometimes they break off and some have had the finger grips interfere with parts of their sewing machine especially if you have a low shank machine. Also, I am not a big fan of the hook strip. It catches on things and makes the ruler a little tippy which affects accuracy.
  2. This is a 13″ ruler by Teryl Loy Enterprises. Mine is 1/4″ thick; it also comes 3/8″
    • Markings: It has 14 horizontal lines the length of the ruler; half of the lines are 1/8″ apart and the other half are 1/4″ apart. It also has 2 vertical line at one end of the ruler and two diagonal lines (45 and 60 degrees) at the other.
    • What I like about this ruler: I love all the reference line and this is the only ruler of the 3 that has lines spaced 1/8″ apart. Also, I love that it is 13″ long. Most blocks are 12″ so this ruler gives you that nice long straight line across the whole block – less chance of your lines going astray. This is my go-to ruler when I stitch in the ditch or have other long lines.
    • Things that could be an issue: I wish the vertical and diagonal lines were in the middle of the ruler instead of at the end and that the diagonal lines were mirrored in both direction. If your machine doesn’t have a large throat space your ability to use the ruler going right will be limited.
  3. The Westalee (Sew Steady) starter kit contains the 12″arc/straight edge combo ruler. The ruler is 7″ long, with markings for a 6″ line. The one I have is 1/8″ thick.
    • Markings: It has three horizontal 1/4″ lines and 9 vertical lines in addition to the start and stop lines.
    • What I like about this ruler: I like all the vertical reference lines. It is easy to divide your space into half, quarters and even eights.
    • Issues: I wish it had diagonal lines and at least one 1/8″ line.

Step 1: Make some basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square, leaving a minimum of 1/4″ for the seam allowance on all sides (I am using a friction pen for my marks). This will be the same for all future blocks and I will always show them as lines A1, A2, A3 and A4.
  • Make 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance. This will also be the same for all future blocks and will be marked as B1, B2, B3 and B4.
  • Mark a line corner to corner from the B lines. This will be C1 and C2. L1S1

Step 2: With your ruler as a guide, stitch all B and C lines. You can do this either with the feed dogs up or down but since we are practicing FMQ with rulers, consider this as extra practice.  The point where the C lines cross is the center of your block (point D).

Tip: You can stabilize a long ruler by placing a small ruler at the end, holding the long ruler with one hand and having your thumb on the other. This picture demonstrates it. tip1c

Step 3: Make a 5 1/2″ square in the center of your block. My short ruler (#1) makes this an easy job. With a center marking and the 45 degree angles, I can match the center point of the ruler to fabric along with the C seams and simply stitch from the other side of the ruler from one C seam to the next. These are E lines.L1S3a

Step 4: Make matchstick rows between point D and the E lines going in all 4 directions. Play a little; don’t worry about matching up the matchstick rows. Vary the width between the matchsticks. Get use to the feel of the ruler. NOTE: Since this is a sampler quilt and not a show quilt, I will be travelling over existing stitching lines when the distance is not too farL1S4

Step 5: Now let’s practice a little accuracy and long lines that haven’t already been marked. Place your ruler along the B line and stitch to the inside of the 12″ square. Your lines will be the width of your ruler foot – 1/4″. Make two rows and repeat for all four sides. This is where my 13″ ruler is really handy as it covers the whole space. However, if you are using a shorter ruler, just keep moving it along the line. L1S5a

Step 6: It’s diamond time, and we need a few more marks. Divide the lines you just made into 4 equal parts, and make 3 small marks at the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 spots (mine are 2 3/4″ apart). Find the center of the E lines and mark that point (also 2 3/4″ apart).

Now accuracy DOES matter. You want your needle, not your ruler to go from point to point. This brings me to the most important tip you will ever learn in ruler quilting:

Tip: Put your needle down where you want to start. Determine where you want your stitching to end and use your small ruler to measure 1/4″ from that point. Line your quilting ruler up to that point, and your stitching will be be accurate. L1S6a

Make 2 rows of stitching following the diagram.  L1S6b

Step 7: We have arrived at the border of our block. It should be 3″ x 18″ +SA on all 4 sides with the corners already defined by our stitching (3″ squares). On 2 corners opposite each other, make some 90 degree lines. Do this by placing your ruler along the B line and stitch just until the outside edge of your ruler foot touches the next B line. Put your ruler along that B line and stitch to the edge. Repeat this for as many lines as you like.

Optional: If you want to practice more straight and diagonal 1/4″ lines, mark out another 3″ on either side of the corner squares. Again, use your B lines as a guide, stitch up and down to the other B line, and then from the corner of your square to the other corner. L1S7a

Step 8: Make three more 3″ squares in the two borders that are adjacent to each other, including a corner. You will have a total of 7 squares where you can practice some wonky squares. This is best demonstrated with a paper diagram. A shows you how to start each square. B shows a complete square including backing out at the end, without tying off. C, D, & E shows the progression from one square to the next.

Use any reference line on your ruler – just be consistent. I used the 1/4″ mark. This meant all of my stitching was 1/2″ apart. Move the ruler (not your fabric) from left to back to right to front, and you will see how easy and forgiving this is. L1S8a

Step 9: The remaining space (including the other corner) is reserved for meandering rectangles. This is a good filler, and another great exercise in practicing the placement of your ruler in all 4 positions. Use the reference lines on your ruler against A and B lines to keep things square. However, you are on your own for this one! Here is a picture to get you started:


That’s it! I apologize for the length of this post but the straight line is so important I tried to get in as many designs as possible. We will be using the straight ruler in every single block.

Don’t hesitate to send me any comments you have – is something unclear? are the instructions too detailed? are the instructions not detailed enough?

Next week join me as we use the 2 1/2″ circle ruler to produce this block: block2





Posted in 2017, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Northcott’s Canada 150 Block Party Finals

All spring you watched me collect and make blocks from shops that participated in Northcott’s Canada 150 Block Party challenge. Similar to row-by-row, you had to visit individual quilt stores in order to collect the patterns. Some of you even bought kits from your local stores and mailed them to me. I had so many blocks and panels, I made 2 quilts.

I gave you the locations and stories behind the blocks. The blocks were wonderfully Canadian. I even designed one myself – called Winterpeg. Just look for the snowflakes!

Both of my quilts are in the top 13 from entries submitted across Canada. I really wanted my quilts to reflect all of Canada so both of my quilts have all thirteen provincial & territorial flags on them. None of the other quilts that made it to the finals have that. I was also able to collect blocks from every participating province – thanks to you.

Now it’s voting time (the winning quilt will be chosen by votes), and I would really appreciate any help you can give me. It could be your vote; it could be forwarding this post to your friends, sharing it on your Facebook page, Instagram or even on your blog.

Although these quilts were made to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, you do not have to live in Canada in order to vote. You can only vote for each quilt once, but you CAN place more than one vote so you can vote for both of mine, and you can vote from any device with a different IP address – iphone, laptop, work computer etc.

To refresh your memory, here are pictures of “My Canada” (front, back and detail) which I custom quilted on a domestic sewing machine, and here is the link to vote for My Canada.


It’s A Party was finished just weeks ago, quilted by a friend on her long arm. Here is the voting link to It’s a Party


Thank you, my blog family and friends!!!


Posted in Canada 150, challenges, Contests, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ruler Quilting 101 – Prep and Set-up

In previous posts, I talked about the benefits of using rulers for quilting on a domestic machine, what some of your options are for grips, and I showed you the bag I made for storing my rulers.

Next week, I will start a series of 9 posts that will end up as a Ruler Sampler quilt. In each post, I will give instructions for making 1 block using 1 primary ruler. The instructions will be detailed – intended for beginners. The rulers will be basic shapes – found in almost all beginner kits. Each block will have a variety of designs – designs for block centers, designs for boarders, and designs for corners. It is just a starting point, and the opportunity to practice. Here is a picture of the first block, using a straight ruler. I will be using a long ruler and a short ruler, but you can make it with either one.block1

If you already have rulers, I invite you to quilt along with me. You will need:

  • quilting rulers (straight, arc, circle, wave). If you do not have the shape I am using, improvise or just skip that block and make your sampler quilt smaller.
  • aspacing rulers small ruler for spacing (see picture for some options)
  • a ruler foot that fits your machine
  • 18 1/2″ square (minimum) quilt sandwich for each block. The designs are 18″ + SA.  A solid or near solid fabric with contrasting thread will make your quilting the most visible.

TIP: Test to make sure the needle is in the center of the foot and that you have 1/4″ on all sides. To do a test, draw a square of any size on a piece of fabric. With the ruler on the line, stitch all 4 lines, moving the ruler from right (of the ruler foot) to front to left to back. If it is not accurate, you might be able to adjust your needle R/L so that you have the 1/4″ on both sides. If you are not able to adjust your needle, you will have to adjust your quilting. Here is a picture of the test I did, and you can see that it is slightly off.

If you are interested but do not have any rulers yet,  you might want to wait until you read a couple posts before making a purchase. Each ruler has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. My experience with different brands is limited, but I will do a comparison of the rulers I have used and provide some commentary on them. You can then make a purchase based on your personal preferences.

Let’s also talk about set-up for a minute.

  • Set your machine up in the same way as you would for free motion quilting (FMQ) with the feed dogs down. The only difference is that you will be using the ruler foot.
  • Some people find that they have better speed control if they reverse their foot pedal so that you are pressing down with your heel instead of your toes.
  • You will need to use an extension table so that your rules can lay flat. The larger your rulers, the larger your table needs to be.
  • If your machine has a large throat space, you will be able to use bigger rulers. Smaller rulers will work better on smaller machines.

All of my work will be done on a Juki 2010 (high shank) and a Janome 2160 (low shank). Here are pictures.

You will notice that the set-up on the Juki isn’t ideal – I was working at our summer cottage on a small round table. The Janome is my light weight travel machine. It has a very small throat space. You do not need a lot of space or the most expensive machine to work with rulers. By using both of these machines I should run into some of the same issues you face and give some suggestions on ways to deal with them.

That’s it! Next time it will be Lesson One!

Posted in 2017, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Welcome Back!

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Fall is in the air and leaves are starting to change colour. I love this time of year. But then again, I love every season.

How was your summer? What kind of creative things did you work on?

Here in Winnipeg, we had a perfect summer – day after day of gorgeous weather. Best of all, no mosquitoes! I had a blast.

BQ (before quilting), I enjoyed playing with glass mosaics. This summer, I decided to combine the 2 crafts – glass and quilting. If you can paint quilt blocks on the side of a barn, why not make quilt blocks of glass? I saw potential in this quilt block… and turned it into glass (without the flowers).

I made a quilt for my dad’s 85th birthday. He loved the flannel and fleece – I hope it will keep him warm this winter.

Being Raffle Chair for our local quilt guild REALLY should come with a shopping budget! Somehow I just CAN NOT resist buying something at EVERY shop! I found this pattern by Alison Glass (and fabric) at a new shop that carries modern fabrics (front/back).

I enjoyed working with the fabric so much, I designed a pattern and made a 12″ mini (front/back).

Then, I finished my Canada 150 quilts. You saw the first quilt in June; here is the second. There are 25 blocks in this quilt – collected from coat to coast. blockpartyfront

The back is pretty special, and determined the size of the quilt since I wanted the flags of all 13 territories/provinces on the quilt. blockpartyback

It was quilted with an overall pattern by my long-arm quilter. I started to run out of fabric (and could no longer buy it locally) so the borders and even the binding was pieced with scraps. Here is a close-up that shows you the quilting and the pieced binding.blockpartyclose

The good news is: Northcott fabrics has selected both of these quilts as part of their 13 finalist! The winning quilt will be chosen by viewer’s choice. YOU have the opportunity to decide. Simply vote for your favorite (It doesn’t have to be mine!). When I know more about when the voting starts/ends, I will share the link with you so that you can place your vote.

You know I hate to waste fabric. Once I started to work with the leftover scraps, I just kept going until I had 4 quilted pillowcases. pillowcases

Then I made a 12″ slab block (forgot to take a picture). It will be combined with blocks donated by others, and made into quilts for the Ronald McDonald House.

That is it! I am declaring my Canada 150 quilts done. I am ready to move on!

Speaking of which… The next post will continue with Ruler Quilting 101 on a domestic. I am really excited about it!

Finally, here are a couple more recipes from Ken’s Kitchen. Creamy Shells with Chicken and Broccoli, and pork chops with pan sauce. I can promise you that both are very good!.

Have a great week.


Posted in 2017, art, Canada 150, mini-quilts, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Ruler Grips and Storage

After 2 years of posting almost every week, I have decided to take the summer off. My life needs to get re-organized. Then there is travel, there is yard work, there are grandchildren to play with – and other fun things. Not that quilting isn’t. I will still quilt. And I will definitely play with rulers.

Last week we started a list of why you might want to use rulers. One comment I received was that rulers are cheaper than a long arm. So true! What a great addition to our list.

Having said that, getting started with a basic set of rulers and a ruler foot is still an investment. If you are just starting out, here are a couple more things to consider before you make a purchase.

Your rulers need to have good markings. Look for rulers with markings etched on as opposed to being painted on.

Rulers are very slippery. You will find that you probably need to add some ‘grip’. What are your options?

  • They sell grips made especially for rulers, but I have yet to see them in for sale in a quilt store.
  • I tried grip disks made for cutting rulers but did not find them sticky enough. They might work better with smaller rulers.
  • I have tried the hook side of hook & loop tape, but was frustrated by the fact that everything else stuck to it (esp. batting).
  • I tried stair tread tape from Ikea. It is a role of tape that feels like sandpaper. The grip works REALLY well, but it scratches everything in sight.

My solution was to make a ruler bag. Not only does it protect the rulers from scratching each other, it also keeps everything in one place and is easy to transport. Once you have invested into rulers, you want to treat them well.

The bag folds in half, ending up about the size of a large purse. Magnets and flaps hold everything in.ruler bag

It opens up flat. There are 3 pockets on the left. The pockets are layered. When the rulers are in their pockets, they don’t touch each other and they don’t lay on top of each other.ruler bag left

And there are 4 pockets on the right. In this case the small upper pockets are on top of the long pockets, so I did add padding for protection.ruler bag right

The small straight ruler was the hardest to accommodate. The handles prevent it from fitting nicely into a pocket. I ended up putting it along the spine, half way into a pocket and tied with ribbon. ruler bag inside

Now we are all set. I hope you will join me for some ruler quilting come September. Have a great summer!

Posted in 2017, my patterns, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Ruler Craze

This is all pretty new and exciting – I just have to share. Last night I attended a reception and received a couple awards. Red River Ex

The Red River Exhibition had one prize for one year only under the category – what Canada Means to Me, in celebration of Canada’s 150th. It was the category I thought there might be a chance of winning. The stipulation was that the quilt had to have a maple leaf on the front. How much competition could there possibly be? The prize I did not expect was 3rd in the Self-Guided category. This is the first time I have seen a quilt of mine hanging in a display. It was special.

Moving on, today I want to talk about rulers. Not rulers for cutting, but rulers for quilting. Long Armers have kept ruler quilting somewhat of a secret, but in the last few years Ruler Quilting on domestic machines has gained popularity.  I have 7. Six came together in a starter kit, and I recently added another one.rulers

Why use rulers? Let’s start a list:

  1. Rulers will improve your Free Motion Quilting (FMQ). Don’t get me wrong. You have to be comfortable with FMQ to start with, but whatever your skill level is with FMQ, rulers will improve the result. Consider this example – if you write your signature in pencil because you want to get it perfect, and then go back over it in ink, the chances are that you will not be able to perfectly follow the pencil lines. Quilting is the same. After marking the pattern in chalk, ink or pencil very few achieve the perfection they would like when they retrace the lines with thread. Rulers, on the other hand, guide your stitching so that your lines are straighter and your curves smoother.
  2. You will save time. Instead of marking the whole quilt, you just need a few dots and dashes. Don’t call us lazy. Call us efficient..
  3. You will not have to worry about all the quilting lines that eventually need to be removed when you are done. I am one of those people who hate marking up their quilts. I have seen pencil marks on quilts decades later. I have seen chalk stains that did not come out, heard about marks that reappeared in the cold, and acid lines that disintegrated the fibers of the quilt. As far as I am considered, the fewer lines, the better.
  4. You can be more creative with rulers. Most stencils will only give you one pattern but one ruler can give you many different options. It’s also easier to ‘stretch’ or ‘contract’ a border.
  5. They are fun, fun, fun! At the beginning it feels like you have a third arm that you don’t quite know what to do with, but stick with it. In no time, your ‘to-be-quilted’ pile will shrink, and you might be making quilt tops just so that you have something to quilt!

But, let’s face it. It’s a confusing ruler world out there. Everyone is selling rulers. What to buy? There are so many different sizes, shapes, thicknesses.

First consideration – your rulers have to be compatible with your machine, so find out what kind will work best with the machine you use for FMQ. If it is a high shank machine you can use thicker rulers, if it is a low shank you will need thin rulers. Your throat size also makes a difference. Some of the rulers I have are too big to use comfortably. They keep bumping against the sides of my machine and I have to keep readjusting them. That is why I added a small straight ruler to my collection. However, it has handles which will work on my high shank machine, but will not work as well on my low shank machine because there is not much clearance between the handles and the threading elements of the machines. It sounds complicated but once you know what kind of machine you have, you will not feel so overwhelmed with the options.

You will also need a ruler foot. I was told I did not need a ruler foot as long as I used rulers that were at least 3/8″ thick. It did work – kind of. But it is so much easier with a ruler foot and I have added one to my collection.

The next important element is shape. Manufactures and shop owners would love to sell you a ruler for each shape, but you do not need them all. A few select ones are all you need. If you are thinking about buying rulers and don’t know where to start, I hope you will stick with me. Over the summer I want to make samples to show you many different patterns that you can make with just one ruler. It might help you decide which ones you like or don’t like.


Posted in Contests, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

My Canada

It’s a good thing we have deadlines. The night before I handed my quilt in for judging, I was still stitching the label on.

You have been following the Canada 150 block party pieces my friends & I were collecting from across Canada. It was so much fun, but I had to call it quits at 36 blocks.

You have also seen bits and pieces of the first quilt. Here is the full version. Finished.Oh Canada front

I called this quilt My Canada because it focused on the whole country – from the map of Canada in the center, to the crest of each province and territory in the border.

There are 11 blocks in this quilt:

  • top row – Winterpeg (my design), On Guard (Saskatoon) and Foothills (Cochrane)
  • middle section – Canada heart (Kamloops), We Remember (North Battleford), All Around Canada (Calgary) Toque (Kamloops) and Alberta Proud (Grande Prairie)
  • bottom row – Vancouver (Vancouver), Great Blue Heron (Courtney)

The blocks are a good cross section of designs typical of Canada, but most were chosen because they had 3-D design elements or used lots of fusible web which meant I could not send it out for long arm quilting. I had to tackle the quilting myself.

It has been 3 years since I quilted anything myself, and I have never quilted anything larger than a twin on my domestic sewing machine. It required a strategy. A modified Quilt As You Go (QAYG) approach. Because I didn’t want to use sashing to join quilted sections together, I decided to quilt the center first, then add a side border and quilt it before adding the other side, top and then bottom. It was not without problems, but I would do it again. It was hard to get accurate measurements for the border but much easier to quilt. Blocking was key.

Let’s talk about the back for a minute. Oh Canada backThe Mountie panel was one of my first purchases, with the intent of using it on the back of this quilt. Besides that, I had 13 of each design element from the provincial panels, and it was becoming very difficult to buy any of this fabric in the local quilt stores. I wanted and needed to incorporate as much from the panels as possible without it looking ridiculous.

For placement of the elements, I used the mountie panel as a quide – Canada symbols at the top, the Canadian Crest along the bottom, and flags to the sides.

The quilting was suppose to be simple but you know how it goes. One thing always leads to another. I wanted to treat each block individually, but also wanted to unite them, so each block has some straight lines and some meandering lines. The curved lines were suppose to tie it all together, and represented the prairie wind. Add the snowflakes and you have a blizzard. Hey, I was doing this in the winter after all. It seemed appropriate then. Not so much now that it is sunny and +30 outside!

The snowflakes that were stitched into the quilting did not show up, and I was not happy with the machine stitching so I embroidered around them with a simple back stitch. It was such an improvement, that I did the same thing around the circles. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the deadline, I would still be stitching or unstitching on that quilt.

I learned a lot on this quilt and was actually glad that I was forced to quilt it myself. It gave me the chance to be a little creative and add some interesting details – like the name & location of each block, which is permanently stitched into the block as a record of where it is from. It is not ‘in-your-face’ but obvious enough if a person looks for it. If I did it all over again, it would turn out better. But I am not going to.

Now its on to quilt #2, which includes the remaining 25 blocks…

Posted in 2017, Canada 150, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Saskatchewan Stitching Conference

I was armed. Coffee, cookies and the Country Register by my side. 800 kilometers of Highway 16 ahead of me. It was tempting to go via Moose Jaw just to visit two of my favorite quilt stores, but I couldn’t comprehend driving the extra 2 hours it would add to the trip.

I have seen the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference advertised in the Country Register for many years and have always wanted to go, but it took the gentle nudge of a friend to get me to sign up for a class I really wanted to take.

The Country Register also has a very handy map which pinpoints all the specialty shops in Manitoba & Saskatchewan. So I knew that my 8 hours in the car could be broken up with stops in Yorkton and Foam Lake. It was something to look forward to.

If you live on the prairies, you will know that when it comes to driving we really only have two seasons – winter and construction. Highway 16 was relatively free of construction, but construction (and rain) prevented my stop in Yorkton.  I have been told it is worth the stop. There are two things I never forget. Where to buy good soft ice cream and where to buy fabric. Next time.

Main Street, small town Saskatchewan is never hard to find, and Foam Lake was no exception. I had a lovely visit at Quiltworks Studio, and walked away with some treasures – A Laurel Burch Christmas book and fabric.sscburch

Humboldt was my destination. Before closing time. Another Main Street; another quilt shop. I made a quick stop at the Haus of Stitches for directions to the conference, and to have a look around. The offer to “start a tab” made walking out with a purchase almost too easy. Obviously they knew I would be further tempted with the supplies that were for sale at the conference.

Several kilometers and several right turns later I was at St. Peter’s College.

I was there for a class called Rulers 201 by Liz Thompson. It is my humble opinion that rulers will make the biggest change in domestic machine quilting in the next few years and I will talk more about rulers in the weeks to come.  For today, I want to focus on the rest of the conference.

Let’s start with knitting. I gave up knitting 30 years ago, but would almost consider taking it up again. This diverse class included the youngest student (a girl in Grade 7 who took a week off school in order to attend the conference), and a young university student who had been taught to knit by his girlfriend’s grandmother. The class was taught by Lucy Neatby. Here are pictures of a few of her samples, but I would encourage you to visit her website for more.

The spinning class was taught by Glenda Hudson, of The Wool Emporium. This class interested me because some day I will have a spinning wheel that has sat as a living room ornament for 50 years. sscspin

The bra making class with Beverly Johnson was very popular. We were told that as soon as you finish your first one, you want to lift up your shirt to show everyone. I do not have pictures to share.

Jan Bones took me back to my Clothing and Textile days at the University of Manitoba, where she taught when I was a student. I loved those classes! She now has her own line of lingerie patterns. My challenge to her, to you, or anyone else listening is to make flannel sleepwear that does not look childish or old ladyish. Maybe even a little sexy. Flannel is the most comfortable fabric ever. Why does it always have to be so ugly?!?! BTW, I bought one of her patterns, some flannel, and some lace. I will include myself in the challenge.

Jackie Van Fossen taught screen printing. She is a fibre artist who dabbles in many of the things that interest me – weaving, felting and botanical dying. We were encouraged to visit other classes but in this case, I was actually escorted to the class. The students shared their work and the process. Speaking of felt, another treasured purchase was this Alpaca yarn, which I want to felt and work into my landscape quilt (if I don’t knit it first). The Alpaca are farmed in Saskatchewan and I had a chance to talk with her. That’s one of the things I love about Saskatchewan. It is big enough to be diverse, but small enough to be personal. sscyarn

There seems to be significant interest in botanical dying. Comparing notes over the dinner table with Jackie and others has me excited about new possibilities! You may remember my Mad Scientist experiments from last summer (#1 – Food, Flowers and Fabric, #2 – Slow Textiles, #3 – Pincherries and Juniper and #4 – Going for Green). It will soon be time to start some new experiments.

So far I haven’t mentioned the quilting classes, but I saw some wonderful works-in-progress. Dianne Jansson taught Gypsy Wife. Here is the sample that was hanging on the wall. sscquilt

I instantly felt connected to Dianne because she designed the hardest block (by far) for the Northcott Block Party. It was the Star of Hope from DiVersity Quilting in Pritchard BC. I think I could learn a lot from Dianne, and would seriously consider taking any class she offers next year. star of hope

This short story would not be complete without mention of the newest celebrity in the garment world – Saskatchewan’s own Ron Collins, the first Canadian male to have patterns published by Vogue. He taught classes in fitting, and provided many of the samples for Saturday’s night fashion show.

My 2 days were packed – classes, meals, tours, fashion show, shopping, meet the teacher events, voting on their 15th anniversary challenge and even a stitching circle late in the evening. I don’t know how Wendy, her staff and maybe even more than a few of her friends keep it going for 10 days! They did a superb job as hosts of the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference. A personal thanks to Wendy who just magically appeared whenever I got lost, when I got locked out of my room, and when we needed supplies (i.e. toilet paper!). Until next year…


Posted in 2017, Highlighting others, travels, Uncategorized | 6 Comments