The very basics – Straight line Ruler Quilting

I promised you some Ruler Quilting, and it starts today.

Previously, I had posts about why you might want to quilt with rulers, what to look for in rulers, preparation & set-up, and even designing with rulers.

Then, I did a series of 6 posts called Ruler Quilting 101.  It was an exercise of coming up with many different designs with just one ruler.

This new series will end with Ruler Quilting 201 – using multiple rulers to make one design. At this point, I really do need to add a disclaimer. I am not an expert. I just like to explore and experiment. Some things work; others don’t. You can follow my process and learn from my mistakes, or copy things you like.

This particular post is for those who are entirely new to ruler guided quilting on a domestic sewing machine. The very basics. This will ensure that we are all on the same page once we actually get to Ruler Quilting 201.

The straight line is the most fundamental shape in quilting, so in this post we will have 5 short exercises using a straight ruler. A nice straight line is difficult to achieve with FMQ, but one of the easiest in ruler-guided quilting. The straight ruler will end up being your most valuable ruler in your toolkit. I would recommend that you have two – a short (6-8″) and long (12 or 13″). 

Start: with sandwiched scraps (about five 10″ squares) and contrasting thread. Use things you are happy to dispose of – it will give you the psychological freedom to play.

Set your machine for FMQ, with the feed dogs down.

NOTE: Make sure that you have the appropriate Ruler Foot for your machine, and that the rulers you are using are the right thickness. Your sandwiched scraps should move freely under the foot, but your foot should be low enough to sit lightly on the fabric.

Mark a square on your fabric using any marker you want – even pen! The easiest is to mark around a common 6 1/2″ cutting square. RQ basics

Square #1: The Matchstick exercise is intended to get you comfortable holding the ruler and stitching in all four directions. Start by stitching around the square that you drew, but instead of moving the fabric when you get to the end of the line, move the ruler – example might be to start with the ruler to the right of the foot, moving it to the front, then to the left and finally to the back (if your ruler doesn’t fit along the foot at the back, it is too thick).

Moving down the line, make a series of matchsticks in both directions. There is no way to do this wrong! Just practice and get used to using the reference lines on your ruler. RQ straight 1

Square #2: For the Wonky Square, you will learn to reference different points. Start by putting your needle down at one corner and then stitch to the opposite line. Continue stitching to the next line, and so on, working towards the center. It doesn’t matter how far along the line you place your ruler, just be consistent. I placed the ruler at the third line. RQ straight 2bRQ straight 2

Square #3: The Zig-Zag Block is similar to the Matchstick Square but you will be practicing accuracy. Start with the zig-zag. It doesn’t matter where you turn, how many lines you make, or how far apart they are. Once you have made them, stitch a series of 1/4″ lines in two different directions. NOTE: line your ruler up along your last line of stitching, and along the Ruler Foot. That should be 1/4″. RQ straight 3

Square #4: The Tunnel block is more practice for your 1/4″ stitching, and using the ruler on all 4 sides. Remember to rotate the ruler instead of the fabric! RQ straight 4

Square #5: You will use a Spacer for the first time in the Star Block. Some kits have spacers in them, but I use a small 2″ ruler.

Make some marks on all four sides of the square that you can use for reference. Put your needle down where you want to start, and your ruler down 1/4″ away from where you want to end. Stitch across the block. RQ straight 5aRQ straight 5

Curves are also very common so next week I will do something similar with an Arc ruler.




About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted
This entry was posted in 2019, ruler quilting, Skill Builders, super simple quilting, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The very basics – Straight line Ruler Quilting

  1. Diane says:

    I love your tutorials Judy, so easy to follow !

  2. Kate says:

    I really must try this. Just need to figure out the foot.

    • The foot is a stumbling block for many. The foot I bought from the manufacturer didn’t work and after suggestions from a FB group, I ordered an adapter foot. It finally came after waiting 5 months but I am happy to report it is working well.

  3. Gail B says:

    I wanted to start ruler work a few years ago, but couldn’t get a foot until Westalee came out with one for my Slant Shank… now I’m practicing, practicing, practicing…lol Thanks for all your help

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