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!

About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted; minimalist in everything except fabric!
This entry was posted in 2017, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ruler Quilting 101 – Prep and Set-up

  1. Marnie says:

    Thanks for the encouragement to try something different. You may want to put the link to your rulers in your next post. I found out my LQS KTR is doing a ruler demo by Janine educator and a walking foot quilting demo on Sept 30 th so I’ve signed up.

  2. pegsplace says:

    Oh my Judy! I am so going to do this with you! I have had my rulers for over a year and have not had the courage! You are giving me courage. Thank you! I will have a look at my stash for blocks!

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