Friday, December 3, 2021

Free Motion Quilting with Rulers

What do these quilts - Tangram, charm square baby quilt, and I Believe in Dragons - have in common? 

I did ruler work with my new FMQ ruler foot!

Most of the quilting I do is with a walking foot - I love doing a spiral!  I have a few FMQ motifs down too which I might do on a baby sized or smaller quilt.  But, I've been wanting to learn how to FMQ with rulers for awhile but struggled to figure out whether there was a proper foot for my Janome 6600 MC machine.  After a call with a really helpful dealer, I was able to find the right foot - I bought this FMQ foot for high shank Janome machines.

There are many choices for rulers out there and I decided to start with a ruler that would help me do straight lines and purchased this Creative Grids FMQ ruler Slim designed by Angela Walters.

Before starting on the actual quilt, I did have to adjust the foot height because the fabric wasn't moving smoothly on my test sample.  (On my machine, there is a knob I hadn't known existed for a long time on the side of my machine.)

For my first attempt, I added stars to this baby quilt in the background between all the charm squares.  Since the FMQ ruler foot also works just fine as a regular FMQ foot, I was able to do a basic meander until I came to a spot where I used the ruler to make the star or some random straight lines in some areas that weren't quite large enough for a star.

After making those stars, I was ready to tackle a lot more ruler work - it was a lot of fun. 

For my Tangram quilt, I used the ruler to quilt inside each of the blocks.  I felt (almost) like a professional quilter as I went back and forth and was rewarded with little threads to bury and no turning the quilt round and round.  (The background was quilted with my regular walking foot.)

My improv quilt - I Believe in Dragons - had lots of ruler work in it too (along with some hand quilting.)   I really enjoyed not having to bury a lot of threads!  Since the quilting went in all different directions, I drew out some chalk lines to help me remember which direction I wanted the quilting to go.

I found this particular Creative Grids ruler (Slim) to be a nice size to hold in my hand.  The markings in both white and black were helpful to line it up regardless of what color the fabric underneath was.  The back of the ruler had some spots which helped it to grip to the fabric.  I just ordered another ruler that will give me the opportunity to do some curvy ruler work - can't wait to give it a try!

Using the ruler was really fun to get straight lines in smaller spaces and I was thrilled to have only a few threads to bury.  There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to use rulers - I watched a few of them, especially by Angela Walters - before I go started.

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. I love that domestic machine manufacturer's are starting to come out with ruler feet. You did a great job keeping the lines super straight!

  2. Thanks for sharing your ruler foot work. The wonky stars are really fun.

  3. I'm happy for you to have self-taught ruler work quilting! Yay! Before I had my Bernina 770QE, I had a Janome that I used exclusively for quilting. Buying a ruler quilting foot for it was essential, as I've been ruler quilting for a long time. It's great that you worked out that a ruler foot is great for transitioning from ruler quilting to FMQ, and that presser foot pressure can be adjusted for the thickness of your quilt. On the Bernina, the pressure can not only be adjusted on the machine, but the ruler quilting foot has its own pressure dial (another reason I like quilting on a Bernina). I'm glad you're appreciating the "stick" that's on the back of a ruler. Should you ever need more control (perhaps due to having a different brand of ruler), I'd recommend buying skateboard grip. It's like coarse sandpaper with an adhesive back - easy to cut a couple small squares or rectangles to affix to the back of a ruler. Anyway, you've done beautiful work on these quilts! I'm impressed. And happy for you to have learned this skill.


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