This is a guest post by my blogging friend Linda Hungerford (flourishingpalms.blogspot.com).Linda at her machine; photo courtesy of Linda Hungerford
This post is to review a new book published by C&T: The Ultimate Guide to Rulerwork Quilting by Amanda Murphy.
Mary invited me to review the book knowing I’m an avid domestic machine quilter who began quilting in 2000, and started quilting with rulers in 2011.
Here’s one of my first rulerwork attempts – doing a no-no by using a regular free motion quilting foot against a Fine Line brand quilting ruler.
And here’s a picture showing how it should be done 🙂
For ruler work quilting, a quilter should use a ruler work quilting foot with a quarter-inch heel.
Two overall observations about the book:
- Because Amanda quilts on a Bernina (both a domestic machine and a longarm machine) the book focuses on how to rulerwork quilt on a Bernina. One page is devoted to: “What if you don’t own a Bernina?”
- Pages 29 to 102 of the 127 pages having photos of rulers being used on a Bernina longarm.
“As a Bernina expert I am very familiar with the machines in the Bernina line, so that is what is shown here. There are obviously a lot of other machines on the market, too. If you have questions about any of them and their suitability for ruler work, please consult your local dealer.”
For me, currently using a Bernina 770QE for quilting, (I do not own a longarm), I was able to apply much of the information to my own Bernina experiences. She references using a stitch regulator, but those of us who quilt on a domestic machine with a stitch regulator, are unable to use the stitch regulator and a ruler work foot at the same time.
Interestingly, she mentions that rulerwork quilting is better for distributing quilting evenly across the surface because of being able to quilt in all directions:
“When you quilt with a ruler, you naturally change directions more easily than you would with a walking foot, and quilting in many directions generally ensures a squarer top than quilting in just one.”
This made me smile because Jacqui Gering, a renowned walking foot quilter with two quilting books under her belt, says precisely the opposite! According to Jacqui, there’s no need to change directions when quilting. Is it any surprise that two quilters have differing views? And doesn’t that make you feel better about how you quilt?
Amanda covers these important topics:
- thicknesses and shapes of rulers
- ruler work quilting table set-up
- sewing machine settings
I concur with these points covered in the book:
Ruler thickness is important, and which thickness ruler to buy depends on whether your machine’s ruler foot is high shank or low shank
Each sewing machine brand needs its appropriate high shank or low shank ruler work foot.
Buy a ruler you will use most often
Though Amanda mentions that different ruler brands are available, she definitely focuses on and uses her own line of Good Measure rulers made by Bernina.
Just as a quiltmaker invests in one or two most-used rotary cutting rulers, a rulerwork quilter need only invest in one or two rulers. Begin rulerwork quilting with a straight edge and/or gentle curve ruler and you’re good to go – like the Good Measure straight edge/curved edge ruler (shown in the book), or Westalee straight edge/curved edge ruler (shown below).
These are some of the brands of rulers I’ve accumulated in the past nine years, with Fine Line rulers being the ones I use most often… probably because that’s the brand I started with. I don’t own any Good Measure brand rulers.
My ruler photo includes a picture of a roll of skateboard grip – a sort of sandpaper that’s grittier than sandpaper with an adhesive back. It’s the best product I’ve found for the bottom of the ruler, to make it “stick” to fabric while quilting. Amanda suggests putting blue painter’s tape or Stable Tape (by Westalee) on the bottom of the ruler.
A bit about Fine Line rulers… They’re different – made with two vertical posts to “hang onto” when quilting (see first blog picture). However, after buying a sewing machine with the dual feed feature, I quickly learned that these ruler posts bump into the dual feed! I can’t use the ruler on the back of the ruler foot, so that’s something to keep in mind when considering a Fine Line brand ruler.
Amanda mentions Bernina’s echo clips, something I frequently use, though the brand I own is made by Westalee. Each slips on/off the ruler foot, and has different spacing, so you can choose how far away to quilt from the previous line of quilting. It’s well worth $10 for the Westalee set!
Set-up is important: have a flat work surface with a means for easy quilt gliding
Amanda recommends the Sew Steady table, and that’s exactly what I have. Top it with a Supreme Slider (or a Queen Supreme if you have a large machine harp), and you’re good.
Here’s my quilting set-up contrived by placing two hollow-core doors across four IKEA adjustable-height Finnvard trestles.Amanda mentions wearing quilting gloves for rulerwork quilting. Personally, I prefer rubbing Neutrogena original formula hand cream on my hands, and then donning a pair of Marcia Baraldi Quilting Grip Gloves. It’s the perfect combo because my fingertips are “grippy” and yet free to grab threads, tie knots, and even change a bobbin! (Neutrogena hand cream won’t harm your quilt.)
Although I have my favorite methods for rulerwork quilting, I also learned a thing or two in the book. The tip that meant the most to me is this one…
“Machine baste all the way around the sandwich through all layers, about 1/8″ from the edge of the quilt top.”
I’ve heard of taking a final “lap” around the outside of a quilt top, but I’d never heard of stitching around the perimeter of a basted quilt sandwich. I tried this on my latest quilt finish, my “Hole Punch Ribbon” quilt, and it worked to help keep my quilt “on the square!” I blogged about this quilt here.
Amanda concludes the book with 31 pages of colorful quilt examples, showing different quilting designs on real quilts including quilt-as-you-go; followed by 14 pages about domestic machine quilting and troubleshooting; and 10 pages on longarm quilting and troubleshooting.
All in all, this book is a good resource for a thorough introduction to rulerwork quilting, and is especially worthwhile if the quilter quilts on a Bernina. Then, it’s a must-buy!