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...


  1. All of it looks great, but that feathering is really impressive.

  2. Don't you love helpful hubbies? (Mine does stuff like that too and I hate it when he's right!) The quilting is looking great and remember that you get better with actual practice! You'll be ready for a longarm in no time... *grins*

  3. I bought those same rulers a year and a half ago (or was it two years and a half ago?); also bought the book. Came home from the quilt show; made the practice panel as described in the book. All my little squares are perfect to start practicing. Instead, because I thought I was too busy, I placed the panel under several quilts and the bedspread on the back bedroom bed. It is still there! I've never touched any of it since. After struggling for a week on my blue stars using the walking foot, I just may drag out that practice panel before long and dig in! I know I could never do it as well as your beautiful work, but I need to at least try! Thanks for inspiring me! Just remember --- I'm the world's best procrastinator, so don't look for it anytime soon! ---"Love"

  4. Love husbands who can talk the walk! Ruler work can be so much fun! I’m thinking of giving it another go on my Star Spangled BOM. Yours is looking great on your new pattern!

  5. P. S. I have a designated 'practice quilt' that I go to after I practice an a small sample and before I move on to my destination quilt. This gives me the chance to perfect my motif on a full size sample first. When it’s finally covered, I’ll have a beautiful 'graffiti' quilt to call my own.

  6. Rulers as you have discovered are a great addition to doing fmqing. I use mine for almost every quilt I quilt. Have fun playing with your rulers. Beautiful quilt!

  7. Wow, it looks great! I'd say you were VERY successful in your first "real quilt" ruler finish. This is on a domestic machine, not a long arm, right?

  8. Haha--this cracked me up. Awesome ruler work!!

  9. You're doing a great job with the rulers

  10. Hi Joanne, thanks for sharing this with us. I've got a little straight ruler that I need to practice with. Now you've encouraged me to take that little guy out and practice! Have a great summer - and your new quilt looks great. Sorry I didn't have time to test it.

  11. Looks great! I hate it when my hubby points out something I should have seen myself--lol!

  12. I am very impressed with your skills with the rulers. I have read on other blogs about this brand of rulers, but I have not had the courage to try them when I have not seen a live demo. That makes a world of difference to me.
    But your quilting makes me want to give it a try. Like you, though, the "spare time" to play with them is not there right now.

  13. Another stunning quilt and your quilting is wonderful. Looks like you are having fun with it.


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