Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Favorite Rulers and Some News!

Oh this is going to be a jam packed blog post - and I'm going to try and not get TOO long on you - but you all know I rarely have a shortage of things to say on any given subject!  :)

First I have two important things I want to share - probably the biggest thing next to baby happening in my life right that as of yesterday I am the owner of a "new to me" APQS Millennium that will be arriving in about a week!  Woohoo!  So that much desired stitch regulation along with quite a few other bells and whistles are soon to be in my reach!  :)  I will elaborate on the story in another post - but very much wanted to share the exciting news with my quilting pals!

Second, I wanted to share that author, teacher, and award winning quilter Karen Neary shared a very kind post on her blog about the quilting I did on Darlene's New York Beauty quilt!  Karen is the designer of the pattern called New York Roundabout Again - and a while back Darlene had tested the pattern for her.  I am honored to be the one who was able to work on this beauty...and so very flattered at the kind words Karen had to share about my work!  Definitely stop by her blog and check it out!

Sew Karen-ly Created

Ok!  Now with the fun news shared - many of you have been asking me about RULERS!


Long arm rulers (often referred to as templates) are as much like candy for quilters as thread!  For the past two years I have been having a blast using rulers on my Ultimate 1 - without stitch regulation and with the older APQS style spoon foot.  It has taken some practice but I am convinced no matter what machine you are quilting on you will want to take some time to experiment...but it is SO worth the effort!

I am going to share with you my MOST used descending order as to HOW frequently I use them.  There are just TONS of options nowadays for long arm rulers and new ones are popping up all the keep on the look out for new ones!

Ditch Ruler from Quilter's Rule
My absolutely MOST used ruler is - the ditch ruler.  This one is made by Quilter's Rule and is just your average ditch ruler.  This one just happened to be available to me - I believe I purchased it from a vendor at the Sewing and Quilt Expo in Cleveland the year I bought my long arm.

The groove along the edge of the ruler is for your machine foot.  The straight edges of the outer ends is lined up with your "ditch" seam, and then you guide your foot along the edge within the groove.

Now - that's how you're supposed to use the ruler, but I'll be honest, I never do.  Why?  Not because I'm lazy...but because even the best piecer's don't necessarily sew a perfectly straight seam.  So a ruler like this doesn't allow for womples!  LOL  I like this ruler because I don't like to use most rulers from edge to edge...and I feel like the center most portion of the ruler is what I use the most.  Like with all things it takes getting used to - but I probably use this ruler on just about every quilt that comes to me!

Here's a video I took recently of me using the ruler on my APQS Ultimate forewarned that you may have to open this video in another window or view directly through YouTube for it to be viewed properly.


Judy's Applique Gem from The Gadget Girls
My second most frequently used ruler is Judy's Applique Gem from The Gadget Girls.  This ruler literally changed the way I ditch around appliqué.  Now - this could have something to do with not having stitch regulation...most appliqué rulers were very difficult for me to use - this was the only ruler that really  helped me get up and close with unusual shaped appliqué.  I use this on ANY and EVERY quilt that has appliqué elements!


12/13" Arc Ruler from Quilts on the Corner
My next most frequently used ruler is my 12/13" arc ruler from Renae Haddadin's online store, Quilts on the Corner.  She has full sets of arcs that I have just yet to invest in - but this one in particular is sold on it's own and EXTREMELY useful.  The inner arc is 12" while the outer arc is 13".  I use this one for almost all of the curved cross hatch I do no matter the size, and lots of other curved stitching.  While every quilt doesn't require a ruler like this, it is definitely one I could not live without!  The design possibilities are really immense with this ruler!

Here are photos of some recent client work where I used this same arc ruler to create curved cross hatching:

Curved Cross Hatching on Client Cindy DeUnger's Quilt - Created with 12/13" Arc Ruler

Curved Cross Hatching on Client Darlene Gerber's Quilt - Created with 12/13" Arc Ruler


QP Curve Template #10 by Linda Hrcka from The Quilted Pineapple
This ruler is new to me but I am finding more and more uses for it.  I purchased it directly from Linda, but I see she has an online shop now - and if you are not familiar with Linda's work you SHOULD BE!  Visit her blog The Quilted Pineapple and I promise your won't regret it!  

Because this ruler has a half circle/moon shape unlike any of my other rulers I have found it to be extremely useful.  In the short time I have owned it I have already used it on several quilts.  I use this for circular appliqué, swags, and curved cross hatch.

This is a larger ruler than I normally work with.  Generally I prefer smaller rulers because of the awkwardness and difficulty to handle large rulers.  The way I have found I use this ruler is to mark first - then use the shape of the ruler to stitch along the pre-marked shape.  I anticipate this is going to become one of my "never let it go" rulers!

Here is an example of a recent client quilt where I used this ruler to create a swag design:

Swag Quilting Design Using QP #10 Template - Client Joyce Coburn's Quilt

Swag Quilting Design Using QP #10 Template - Client Joyce Coburn's Quilt

Creative Grids 1" Ruler - NOT a Long Arm Ruler

Now this last ruler is NOT a long arm ruler/template.  The difference is the thickness.  Long arm rulers are generally about 1/4" thick to accommodate our machine foot.  You would never want to use a traditional cutting ruler on your long arm except for marking.  That is exactly how I use this ruler.  I thought it was worth sharing because it is absolutely invaluable.  I use this for measuring out small sections to quilt or creating geometric shapes.  I also use this to create registration marks for creating feathered borders (something I do frequently) or just lining up shapes and designs so they are neat and straight.

This one was actually gifted to me from the owner of a local quilt shop in exchange for some work I did.  I'm so glad I have it because I use it ALL the time!


Some Things to Note and A Few Resources:

- Long arm rulers are THICKER than regular cutting rulers.  You never use a cutting ruler on your long arm as it could slide under your foot and cause damage to your machine or YOU.  That does not mean you won't LOVE traditional rulers for marking...and using them in combination with a good long arm template for carrying out your design.

- There are absolutely TONS of people who sell long arm rulers.  Do a quick google search and be sure to check at your local shows - particularly ones that will have long arm dealers with machines to test.  A great place to start is with the brand of whatever machine you are long arm quilting on.  Handi Quilter in particular has many rulers available that can be used on any long arm.  Also many of your favorite quilting artists and teachers have rulers available for purchase (Jamie Wallen, Lisa Calle, Deloah Jones, Linda Hrcka/The Quilted Pineapple, Renae Haddadin - just to name a few).

- Using rulers on a sit down machine is possible!  The way that free motion quilting has taken off with quilters on their sit down and domestic sewing machines - now is ruler work!  There are a number of great online resources to get you started with this technique, but a wonderful place to start is Patsy Thompson's YouTube channel.  She is an author and teacher who also has some wonderful free motion quilting tutorials and classes available.

- If you subscribe to or can get your hands on the latest issue (March/April 2015) of Machine Quilting Unlimited there is a fantastic article by Margaret Solomon Gunn on curved templates with some great examples of how to use them creatively.  Just another resource available to get you going with long arm rulers!

-  This is really just the tip of the ice berg in terms of what is available out there.  I do have many more rulers all of which I use some...but those shared above are my absolute use every day - cannot get by without them rulers!  :)

A Fine Example of My Lack of Organization - Ruler Storage


I think this is a good starter list of the rulers I use the most!  If you have an absolutely "I can't live without it" long arm ruler I'd love for you to share!  I am always looking to add to the collection!


Elita@Busy Needle Quilting said...

Thanks for that info! I'm always curious what rulers people like to use. Great news about your new acquisition!

Andrea said...

Hi Valerie - thanks for the great rundown of your favourite rulers. I don't have a lot of rulers, I buy them as I need them. My favourite one is one by Jamie Wallen- straight line - and it has an angled handle on it which makes it really good and steady to control. Judi Madsen offers the same one, different colour now, and gridlines which will be great for registration marks - that's the one I'm picking up next :-)