Before I begin, I want to clarify that there are a variety of rulers for free-motion quilting on longarm and mid-arm machines, as well as feet. But the feet, as well as the rulers, used on longarm and mid-arm machines are not typically useful on a domestic machine. The shank of the machine, where the foot resides is completely different. And the neck of the machine is also different, much smaller on a domestic machine, thus prohibiting the use of many longarm rulers on a domestic machine.
While I am not an expert on Ruler Work, I do want to heighten awareness of how easy it is to use rulers on a domestic machine and how much fun it can be. Thus, I’ve started a series of articles on this topic where I plan to showcase experts, rulers, feet, tips, tutorials and hopefully plenty of inspiration. My goal you ask? I simply want to encourage every quilter to try Ruler Work, on their domestic machines, regardless if you have ever done any free-motion quilting or not. And I want to increase awareness of a variety of ways to learn/improve your FMQ skills by way of Ruler Work.
I’m confident rulers can help you stitch beautiful FMQ designs without having to mark your fabric. I also believe you’ll find Ruler Work can also be faster and more accurate to traditional FMQ. While some may be happy to only use Rulers, I also feel the hybrid of using Ruler Work with traditional FMQ can be amazing. It will be up to you to pick your style.
Some quilters use rulers without a special foot. For example, several years ago Teri Lucas shared a Youtube video showing how to use rulers with common machine feet.
A true ruler foot is a 1/4″ foot that guides along the ruler, to allow the free-motion quilting to stitch 1/4″ from the guide (ruler). The foot typically has a round base that allows the ruler to be rotated completely around the foot, consistently stitching 1/4″ away. Non-sewing machine companies are the leaders in designing ruler feet, for various brands. While you need to know if your machine is a high vs low shank machine before you purchase a generic ruler foot for your machine, I also recommend you check with your sewing machine dealer to learn if they have a specific ruler foot for your machine. Bernina has recently released such a foot, but not all dealers have them in stock yet.
Westalee, based in Australia, has design of generic ruler feet for high or low shank machines and they also have a large selection of rulers. In the US, one of their largest resellers is Sew Steady who sales a variety of ruler bundles.
Personally, I prefer using a Ruler Foot vs other feet, as I find it is simply smoother when sewing against a ruler and doesn’t want to sneak underneath the ruler. Plus, I can stitch faster when using a true Ruler Foot, but that could be just me.
Here is a good intro to Ruler Work video tutorial by Angela Walters. I also really like this video as Angela shares how to incorporate regular FMQ with ruler work.
I’ve received plenty of questions that I’m researching (e.g. WW status of availability of the new Bernina Ruler Foot for Domestic Machines, What other Brands have their own Ruler Foot, How to identify differences of rulers best for longarm vs domestic or midarm machines, etc.).
For those of you that have pursued Ruler Work on a sit down machine, I’m hoping you can share your favorite brand of rulers and/or favorite “go to” ruler. And, of course, I hope you’ll share photos of any Ruler Work you have done (or any FMQ) on my Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/quiltshopgal as I’d love to see what you’ve created, as well as have your help to inspire others to give Ruler Work (and FMQ) a try.
Here is a list of previous posts about RulerWork