Many times, my readers ask questions or give me inspiration for ideas. This morning was a question that might be a learning tool for everyone. I know when I first started quilting on the longarm, I had NO clue how to work around applique! So, how do I use rulers to work around applique?
I made a very quick video about my method that you can find here on YouTube. Nothing at all professional, just my trusty little Iphone!
I use my favorite quilting ruler as resistance against the hopping foot. I travel very slowly! Also, make sure you are using a ruler base that is made for your longarm machine. I work on a Handi Quilter Fusion which has a specific base made especially for my machine.
Sometimes I get into tight places, but the size of the ruler allows me to work this way. Remember, light touch and move slowly. Don’t push or pull on the ruler or the base. Let the machine be somewhat guided by your ruler. I hope this helps! Have a fabulous day!
This is a small project I’m doing for a friend. She will be doing a giveaway next month and I’ll be sure to report back and show the final piece when she’s ready! You may want to follow Stephanie Palmer at Late Night Quilter 🙂
When I say small, I mean the linen was tiny! All of 5″ square. I almost didn’t choose this piece, but I’m glad I did. This was a drawn threadwork coaster. I used a satin backing and placed the linen in the middle.
I used my rulers for the piano key border before I began the inside work.
I stitched an inside line, then pinned back the outer edge so I could finish the border.
Once I have the border finished, I start the work on the inside. I also put a shiny little piece of costume fabric underneath the linen. It’s amazing what a tiny bit of sparkle will do for one of these pieces!
I’ll add a few beads, mat and frame this piece. I’ll be sure to show you the whole thing when I can! Until then, happy quilting!
One of my most recent favorites! This began as a 100 year old pillow cover. Lovingly embroidered, most likely by a woman from Iowa. Because, only a lover of her state, would spend the time embroidering kernels of corn! OH MY GOSH, I love this piece! It was stunning in it’s original state, but of course, I took it to a whole new level.
These early patterns were color tinted, so the embroiderer could decide what parts they would like to stitch and could choose more or less embroidery. I’ve seen some that are very heavily stitched and some that have only been outline stitched. This is the way I found it, a little wrinkled and a few aging stains. I chose not to soak this one as I really didn’t know what might happen to the floss. I recently had soaked a piece in Retro Clean, which I consider very safe. I had also put Shout, Color Catchers, in the water. I still had bleeding from the brown floss. I sure couldn’t take a chance on this beauty!
When working these old patterns, I also remove this tiny edge with the pattern name and number, then attach it to the back when I’m finished.
Mostly, when I quilt a piece like this, I know what I’m going to do and the designs are free flowing. This one was different and seemed to need a plan. I have a few different methods for auditioning designs. I used Handi Quilter’s Preview Paper. It comes in a roll with a dark black line, so you don’t accidently take your design over the edge and onto your fabric. I use a black sharpie so it’s fast drying, then rubbing alcohol to wipe the slate clean.
I always start a piece like this by outlining the entire design. It stabilizes and sets the boundaries for me to start the background work. I used two layers of batting on this piece, 80/20 Hobbs on the bottom and 100% Hobbs wool on the top. This makes for an easy trapunto look without all the work. I also stitched inside the original embroidery and chose to go around each and every kernel of corn for some fabulous dimension!
And there you have it! Finished piece is 20″ square. All free motion quilted. I always hope the original maker would be thrilled with what I have done with her work. I think she would!
It all began this way. On the left, is a simply printed tea towel from my granddaughter. On the right, is the fabulous print that will create the border. HERE WE GO!
This may have been the most fun I’ve ever had in quilting! Probably because it began as the very simple artwork of my 3 year old granddaughter, Juniper. She printed it using fruit dipped in paint. I always say, I’ll quilt anything, but kid art is the BEST!
Appropriately keeping with the theme, I added this fabulous fruit print border I had picked up from my guilds’ “share pile” the night before. I made it 6″ wide, really not knowing where I might go with this project.
I wasted no time and got it on the frame as fast as I could. I didn’t mean to work on it for so long, but it did consume about 3 days. I’m guessing it might have been 15 hours of quilting. I had no pre-plan and designed as I worked. Thread color is always difficult for me. It scares the BA-G-BEES out of me to use a contrasting color, always afraid I will make a mistake and it will JUMP out of the quilt! Thankfully, I had a couple of longarm friends who encouraged me to GO GREEN, so I dove right in!!! (the color is Kiwi, by Glide)
I used a double batting of 100% wool because I wanted some big fluff! This was all stitched free motion, so I used round templates and eyeballed a lot of the circles. I wasn’t terribly concerned about perfection on this piece. I wanted to keep some of the child and whimsy that it was screaming!
Before going any further, I wanted to make sure to get a signature in. Since it is a collaborated piece, it deserved both our names AND a date!! Label and date your quilts! I like using my own handwriting. Try it, you’ll be surprised that writing with your longarm will look a lot like your regular handwriting!
Then there were the lines! I’m a little particular about lines, maybe OCD about them!!! I like them straight and I use my ruler, moving it along and beside the entire time. These are 1/8″-1/16″ over the entire piece. Eeeek!!!!
It’s hard to see, but I continued the line work into the border, adding a line of pearls at random spots.
After getting the circles where I wanted, lines where they needed to go, I went inside the painted circles and organically stitched where the paint had landed. I like the juxtaposition of the inside and outside circles.
Then there were the rhinestones!! OMG!! I have waited for the right quilt to do some intense embellishing and this was the one! Once again, hard to see in photos, but I placed about 150 stones throughout. This was the icing on the cake!
At this point, I was so thrilled I had put our names in before I even started. I got a little carried away and before I knew it I had filled in all the space! I let a few circles and ghosted shapes flow over into the border. I love asymmetry and use it whenever I can.
Here is the finished piece before I stretched it onto an artists’ canvas, next step! I wanted it to hang and be self framing, so the hubs helped and we stretched it over a canvas, stapling to the inside as we stretched. The hardest part was making sure we kept it centered and equal on all sides. I had also quilted it to the edge, so I had plenty of excess fabric to use for stretching.
And who doesn’t love a back!!! Oh my gosh, I may love it even more!
I always believe the back of a quilt tells the real story. You can see things you will never notice on the front. I was sad that by choosing to stretch on the canvas, I lost the back view! Ah, well, “C’est la vie!”
Before I let Juniper have it back, I hung it on my wall for a few days. I decided if it were me, I might hang it sideways. Pieces like this are so great, they can go a few different ways and you can have a new piece of artwork each direction! I hope you enjoyed this piece and are inspired to re-purpose a special fabric from a child. I guarantee fun!!!
I may be biased, but these are the best quilting rulers ever! They were created quite by accident in December 2015, when a woman was commenting on my Facebook page and asked where might she get the rulers that were lying on my work surface (rulers I had my glass man cut out of acrylic, just for me). The moment she asked, the bells started dinging in my head and I answered, “From me, if you can wait a bit!”
I started my research, found a manufacturer, and before I knew it they were in my hands. The next week, I sold out of the first 200. The rest is history and I am thankful for those of you who are using them now!
This cool ruler, the smallest one that I call the Palm Ruler (because it fits in the palm of my hand), is really great for tight spaces. I also use it as resistance when I travel around an applique or shape. Both of these great rulers can be used with either a long arm machine or a domestic machine. You can purchase the Palm Ruler here.
When using the rulers with a domestic, make sure to use a quilting foot on your machine. There is such a thing as a ruler foot, which is thicker than the free motion foot, but I find that the quilting foot works just fine. The pressure that I use on the ruler against the quilting foot is very light. What makes this the best ruler for quilting on a domestic is the size! It is 5 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide.
The fit on a regular machines’ throat is ideal, even without an added table base. Because I am a long arm quilter, when I quilt on a domestic machine I am thinking backwards! It takes awhile to get my rhythm, but once I do, it’s very meditative. On a domestic, you are moving the ruler with the quilt, definitely opposite from long arm quilting!
In this photo you can actually see the size in my hand, which is why it is one of the best rulers for quilters. The clear acrylic ruler is 1/4 inch thick and has 2, 1/4 inch stitch lines around for easy measuring. I also put 1 inch marks on the side for another measure.
I have been asked if I would have a hole placed in the ruler for hanging, but I have chosen not to do that. When I am working in quick movements on the long arm, I find that the hole can get caught up on a raised seam. I know, you’re thinking, that’s crazy! Well, this quilt is what made me decide NOT to add the hole. I can show you a very small bit of this quilt that must have 3,000 or more flying geese. Having gone into each “goose”, I will guarantee a hole in the acrylic, will hold you up!
The other reason this is probably my favorite quilting ruler are the curved ends! Do the sharp corners of your rectangular ruler ever get caught up in the seams of your quilt? The curved ends allow smooth movement over a quilt when working on the long arm.
The long, Slim Ruler is a fabulous quilting ruler. It is 9 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. It is also made of 1/4 inch acrylic and has a 1/4 inch stitch line going around. Again, I like this one because it fits easily in my small hand. It is great for longer work, ditch stitching in particular. Once again, it maneuvers well on a domestic machine or a long arm machine. When using this quilting ruler on the long arm, make sure you are using a table base that fits your machine. Like the palm ruler, the slim ruler also has curved ends so it lends to quick movements and no catching on seams. You can purchase the Slim Ruler here.
These quilting rulers also double for wonderful marking rulers. I multi-task with them all the time, using a purple air erase pen when doing quick work. The edges are also marked at 1 inch intervals. Mark, position, quilt, using the same ruler! How much more efficient is that?
This is a work in progress, a vintage hankie on my domestic machine. I’ve taken two incredible classes from the great, Sharon Schamber. She is as capable on a domestic machine as she is on a long arm. A particular comment she made that has stuck with me is that when she quilts on a long arm she is moving quick and while working on a domestic, she says she gets into a meditative state and it’s much calmer. I have found this too!
There are other rulers I keep in my quilt toolbox. Some of my favorites are made by Handi Quilter, the Versa Tool and the Mini Scallop. These are great rulers for their versatility. Others I use and like are by Jane Hauprich. Jane’s rulers are most helpful when I need a curve.
I hope you are playing with some fabulous rulers! Once you get the rhythm, they are super fun!
Check out the latest creation by my friend, Jodie Davis! Yes, it’s pricey, but super cute and well made in Germany. What a fabulous idea!
YES, it can be done! I learned this method from a wonderful class with Sharon Schamber. You can use starch and heat to reduce wobbles and waves from any quilt top, border, or block! I did this last week with a beautiful, vintage top. The quilt was machine pieced and hand appliqued in the blocks.
This is what the block looked like before I created the magic! There was at least 2 inches of extra fabric in the center. After I sprayed the block and ironed, it was almost flat. I was able to start stitching at this point with NO WRINKLES OR CREASES!
The final block looks like it was perfectly flat to begin with!
As usual, I used my favorite quilting rulers for lots of ditch stitching on this quilt.
Now, if you’re still wondering how this whole starch and shrink thing works, watch this quick video. I learn by watching, so I hope the visual helps you too!
I never knew I was such a hankie lover! They are the simplest linen you can quilt. Small, simple and fast! I’ll take you through the steps to create this one-of-a-kind piece. Let’s go!
These are the fabrics used in this piece. The background is a red cotton with a sheen, underlayment is a gold lame’ and then the hankie is on the top of this sandwich.
Hankies are usually quite thin, so I like to put something underneath them. Sometimes it’s just a white layer or a thin piece of batting, but this one has some cutwork, so I put the lame’ just under the inside open area. I will admit it was a little tricky to position it!
I work on a Handi Quilter Fusion longarm. I’ve recently become a Handi Quilter Ambassador, so you can imagine how much I adore my machine! To begin, I have loaded a piece of muslin backing on my frame, then I begin “the stack”. First, is a piece of 100% wool batting. Then a layer of background fabric, which is the red cotton with a hint of sheen. Next, is the gold lame’ just underneath the inside cutwork. Finally, the hankie.
I begin by stitching down the red fabric, creating the shape I want, in this case a square. Then I stitch the perimeter of the hankie, following the lines of the lace. This will also anchor the lame’ on the inside.
On this piece, I used Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Stencil. When faced with a lot of white space, this IS the ultimate stencil. It is a fabulous grid system that let’s you create a unique design. I used a purple air erase pen to draw my lines. I like these pens because the lines disappear in about an hour.
After using the grid for the straight lines, I connect the dots where I like and then start my free motion quilting in those spaces. I use my favorite quilting ruler to do the ditch stitching around the perimeter and then to outline my design.
This is where the design starts to take shape. I don’t necessarily know where I’m going. I decide each step as I go!
Now that I have the inside designed, I go back out to the background fabric and echo the scallop of the hankie. From there, I decided on a piano key border.
The last thing I do while I have the piece on my longarm, is to stitch around the perimeter of the hankie to finish the edge. Once I have the hankie off the frame, I add small glass beads to tack down the middle of the flowers and give the piece a wee bit ‘o bling. For this particular piece, I trimmed about 2 inches beyond the size of the frame, wrapped around a piece of acid free foam core board, then completed with the inset piece of cardboard that came with the frame.
Here is the finish! Framed it is about 24″ square. I put spacers right inside the frame (1/4″ strips of foamboard) so the fabric does not touch the glass. Many times I cut a mat, but this one looked great on its own.
I made this piece to sell at my guilds’ silent auction a few weeks ago, so it no longer resides with me. This was a tough one to give up, but I know it’s making someone smile when they look at it! Thanks for following my process. I hope you’ll give it a go, whether you work on a domestic or longarm machine. Have a fabulous weekend!
Get ready for some incredible embroidered eye candy! This piece was sent to me by Freda, in Florida. She had asked if I could quilt the background. Of course, I said yes, she mailed, and I proceeded to stare at it for a few months because I was simply overwhelmed by it’s beauty. I will also admit I was somewhat intimidated by her meticulous stitching and was afraid to even start!
The original piece is 18″ x 24″ and the background is more of a cream color than white. Pictures never show the depth of color, but trust me, this one is amazing!
The pattern is called, “Flower Dancer”, and you can see from the photos it is absolutely stunning without doing anything else to the piece. You can order the kit at JDR Brazilian Embroidery. I finally felt the mood one day and decided I’d better get started!
I began by dropping flower motifs around the embroidery and a few butterflies to mimic the embroidery. I always like to duplicate an element from the embroidery or fabric, if quilting a quilt.
After all the motifs were placed, I used a whimsical fill of paisleys, swirls and bubbles, to give the feeling of movement or dance to the overall embroidery. One more picture since the sun was shining just right later in the day!
There you have it! A beautiful piece, enhanced even more with quilting! Freda plans to create a small, crazy quilt border. It will be a wall hanging for a special granddaughter. I hope you enjoyed my Flower Dancer adventure! YES, even I ordered the kit and will be checking Mary Corbet’s video library for the new stitches I need to learn! Have a fabulous weekend!
I finished this a few weeks ago for my dear friend, Gwen. The pattern is called, The Circuit Rider, by Jenifer Dick.
I needed to finish quite a few quilts for our upcoming guild show, so I was looking for a quicker way to finish an applique. I used the Bethanne Nemesh method of mid-custom quilting.
I probably saved 3 hours by NOT ditch stitching most of this quilt. Instead, I worked the feathers and motifs right UP to the applique. It’s brilliant! What a time saver!
Everything on this quilt is free motion and the echoing on the applique is simply “eye balled”. Once you get the rhythm and movement, it goes fairly quick! Total time on this quilt was 10 hours.
The back is a good illustration of how the motifs work up to the vine. No ditch stitching required!
Love those backs!!
You can see this quilt and about 100 others at our annual guild show, April 2nd and 3rd, in Lawrence, KS. Join us if you are in the area!