Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Playing with FMQ rulers!

Look what I am doing this month:

Let me back up a little. Last fall I made the top for an ISU Cyclones baby sized version of Jelly Bean Stars.

It launched the rewrite of the pattern.  You can read about those thought processes here.  After re-imagining the design I had to make another version,which I named Magnitudes.  That one is quilted, bound, photographed and ready to be the pattern cover quilt, and the pattern is with testers as I type (thank you testers!!!)  After all that, Cyclone Baby remained forgotten in a box, unquilted.

Backing up even more, two years ago I bought a Westalee Rulers starter set to start adding ruler work to my limited freemotion quilting skill set.  I tried a few test sandwiches, had skipped stitches, broken thread and frustration.  The rulers have been in a box until I had spare time to figure out what was going on.  Spare time?  Hah!

Fast forward to last month.  The local quilt shop hosted two classes on beginner ruler work with Westalee rulers!  I'm so glad I was able to take the class. Thank you Teresa for switching work days with me!

After adjusting a few settings on my machine I had great success on practice pieces.
Ruler work practice

I have always had trouble replicating FMQ success when I start working on a larger pieced quilt, so I was a bit apprehensive about just launching into the two big projects I want to custom quilt with rulers.  Honestly, the rulers might have gone back into the box again if Cyclone Baby hadn't whispered in my ear.

Cyclone Baby is larger than a practice sandwich, but not huge.  It's pieced.  It has blocks and sashing providing space for trying different things.  It doesn't have a purpose at this point so I won't be crushed if I mess it up (well, not too crushed).  OK, let's break out the rulers!

I stitched in the ditch around the stars with a straight edge ruler.  I had a little trouble where there was bulk in the seams, because the highest I can set the ruler presser foot is still pretty tight over thick seams, so it caught a little bit.  Still, it was easier overall and a lot easier on my shoulder that wrestling the quilt round and round to quilt around the star with my walking foot, and definitely straighter than I can manage with freemotion without rulers.

I used the "Circles on Quilt - Circles Set 3" to stitch concentric circles in the background of the star block.  Again, doing it with rulers was much easier on my shoulder than moving the quilt under a walking foot.  When I stitched two small circles on each square of Tic Tac Hoot I worked a lot harder than I did to make these multiple circles!

The petal shapes in the sashing are made with the 2" inside circle template.  These gave me trouble with skipped stitches and breaking thread and made me very, very unhappy.  I tried changing the needle. I tried re-threading the machine. I tried cleaning out the bobbin area.  I gnashed my teeth.  Why did it work on the practice sandwich and not on my quilt?

My non-sewing husband came home, took one look at me and gave me a wide berth before asking "Have you tried changing the thread?"

Hmmph. Well. No.  I shouldn't have to.  So there.

OK, I changed the thread and I think I'm back on track.  I'll share again when I reach the borders.  It might be a few weeks.  Summer activities exert a pretty strong pull...