Ruler Quilting – A New Approach to FMQ

This week I held the first of my new Ruler Quilting Classes. I was really excited to show the five ladies all about how rulers can be used on a domestic sewing machine to create fabulous free motion designs.  Ruler quilting offers the opportunity to switch the way you think about free motion quilting.  By using rulers you are able to create smaller, manageable structures which are great to look at on their own, or you can embellish them with more traditional free motion designs, like pebbles, ribbons, figures of eights, feathers and zig zags. During the class, there is lots of practice in the morning (or on the first evening), and in the afternoon (or second evening) the class focusing on marking and making the cushion sampler below.

In the class, we learnt about ruler feet.¬†The ruler foot looks exactly like your darning foot, except it is thicker. It doesn’t have the bar that fits over the needle screw and it doesn’t hop. instead, it will just glide over the material. Setting the ruler foot to the correct height is critical so that the fabric moves easily, but the height of the foot is not so great such that the stitches don‚Äôt complete properly or the ruler is able to slip under.

It is now possible to spend your life savings on rulers for use with a domestic machine – however, if you buy just a few, but good ones, then that is really all you need to get started. Rulers with good markings are equivalent to extra rulers, as you can use that one ruler in more dimensions with great accuracy. Before you buy any ruler, have a good look at it and see if there are options for you to use them in different ways, for example

  • Do they have markings so that you can echo the lines you have drawn at ¬ľ‚ÄĚ or ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ or more
  • Do they have degree marking at 45‚Äô or 60‚Äô so that you can accurately create a triangle or circle of your ruler work
  • Do they have clear starting and end points that mark ¬ľ‚ÄĚ from the needle or have a lip to stop you going past the point
  • Do they have both horizontal and vertical lines so that you can use the ruler at 90 degrees to your work with just as much accuracy without having to twist the quilt

There is more to the ruler than just the shape of the outside edge!

I buy Handiquilter rulers and have built up a little stock now. They are beautiful but expensive. In the class, each person can use my Handiquilter Rulers, but each pupil in the class had access to all four of the rulers that Angela Walters brought out earlier this year. They are versatile, the right size for domestic quilting and all four retail at around £90 in the UK, which is much less of an investment to make to continue with ruler quilting after the class.

As with everything, it is practising that makes us proficient. Ruler quilting is definitely something for you to try – for many people, I expect this to be the breakthrough in free motion quilting that they have been looking for.

For details of further information on my Ruer Classes 1 & 2  and other GillyMac class click here.

Keeping You Organised : Free Document Wallet

Before I go on holiday (or travel for business – when I used to do that regularly), I frequently had a really vivid dream.¬† It was one of those dreams that you wake up from all upset and worried and it takes you a moment to work out that actually it is all ok and it is just a dream – whew! The dream involves me trying really really hard to get to the airport and every mode of travel I try fails along the way. This leads to me being hideously late. Normally when I get close to the airport, I also realise that I haven’t got my passport with me and have to return home to collect it.¬† I feel stressed writing this down!

I have put these dreams down to my husband who is perpetually late for everything – except the airport. In normal everyday life, he doesn’t¬†believe he is late until it is past the time he needs to be somewhere. So he can plan to go into¬†Putney to coach rowing at¬†11am – which is a journey of about 30-40 minutes, so he should leave by 10.20am. However, in his mind, he isn’t late until it’s after 11am – even if he is still at home at 10.55am. Conversely, when we go to the airport we have to get there super early – hours earlier than is necessary – which then involves a ridiculous amount of hanging about and shopping!!¬† So let’s just blame him for my dreams!¬†

Before I went to New York in April, I did ponder my dream and thought it may help to make myself a document wallet so I knew exactly where the passports, travel documents, insurance papers etc., were. It was a huge success. It was small enough not to be bulky but big enough not to get lost. The zip, which is part way down the front didn’t get snagged on the content. All in all, I was really pleased with it. I made another one a couple of weeks ago for my daughter who was off to Slovenia on holiday with her pal… again it was a success. So I have written up the pattern to share with you all.

I hope you enjoy it – and your husband isn’t as funny and crazy as mine. ūüôā

GillyMac Document Wallet

ps. We’ve been married 15 years today and he is the best!!

 

 

 

Off To The Beach

I loved this bag from the moment I saw the pattern. It was smart,  big and had the opportunity to use some really fun fabrics. In May half term my older daughter is off to find some sun in Slovakia, so hopefully, she will like the bag as much as I do and want to take it on holiday with her. The pattern is by Swoon Patterns. I enjoy making Swoon Pattern bags. The instructions are clear and reliable and the results are always really professional.

I used fabric from Sophie Allport. Sophie Allport isn’t your normal ‘go-to’ fabric store, her collection of canvas/homeware curated fabrics is great. I don’t have a little boy … but if I did, the Dinosaur fabric would be on my wishlist … in fact I love it so much, I may buy some anyhow!¬† Just a note on the Sophie Allport fabric – it is expensive at ¬£25/m, but it is 150cm wide… that is super wide and so it¬†is much better value¬†than it may appear at first.

This bag is a little different as the handles are not sewn down on to the bag front, instead, they are threaded in a continuous loop around and through the bag. This makes the bag really different. I decided to buy handles ready made. I find that bought handles can often make a big difference to the professional look of the final bag. I recently found that U-Handbag is selling pleather handles on a roll. They are 1 1/4″ wide, backed with hessian. and come in 3 colours.¬† They are also beautifully edge stitched. They are too thick to easily sew onto a bag but could be attached with Chicago screws or something similar.

Although I used pleather for the handles, for the base piece of the bag I had a piece of real leather big enough – just. It also wasn’t¬†too thick. The thickness of the base of this bag is important to consider as to make the bag corners you will be sewing through, the outer thicker fabric, your equivalent to the flamingo fabric and the fleece interfacing¬† all doubled over on itself… and my machine was fine with this except over the (already created) seams, where I needed to hand crank the machine through those bits carefully – and I won’t lie .. I broke several needles.

By comparison, making the buttonholes for the handles was much easier. This involved creating buttonholes through the flamingo fabric, fleece interfacing, lining and light/medium woven interfacing was easily enough after a few practise goes!

This bag doesn’t¬†have many pattern pieces, so cutting out took me around 50 minutes and making the bag took 3 hours (max).¬† I have added to the bag by installing a meshed zipped pocket in it – for my daughter’s suncream and bits and pieces she needs regularly. I have also made a document wallet for her and a make-up bag to. I used the pattern from the Grainline Portside bag for the document wallet and winged it a little bit for the make up bag.

Metro Rings: Using the Quick Curve Rulers (with free quilting plan)

Deborah and I made this stunning quilt together. She did the hard work in the patchwork piecing and I got to quilt it, and whilst I wanted the background to be a brilliant white, she chose the wonderful colours that make up the rings.

It was made using the Mini Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. At the end of last year, I invested in a number of both the mini and full-size rulers for my classes. I really like working with rulers and teaching using good rulers. The best rulers are the really versatile ones. By that, I mean ruler with good markings on them so you can move them increments of partial inches and lines on so you can cut with the ‘on point’. These rulers have all those features AND they have matching quilting rulers which are excellent for identically matching the curves, inside and outside of your piecing work.

This quilt can be made using the larger ruler, but we chose to use the smaller one as I wanted to check out the suitability of this pattern for a cot size quilt – and it doesn’t¬†disappoint. It is built using 2″ x 10″ strips,¬†(for the larger quilt jelly roll strips are suggested). Although the pattern suggests using 20 10″ squares, in fact, we would recommend not bothering with this and just cutting up scraps, which are 10″ long, into 2″ slices. We found that the more colour tones we used and patterns¬†we incorporated the more interesting the final¬†quilt became. Fabric with smaller prints work best with this quilt as larger prints would get chopped up and lost. The strips are sewn together in batches and then cut cross-ways using the ruler.

As with all our rulers, we added Handi Quilter gripper to the back of them to stop them slipping as we cut out the fabric. This is essential and the Handi-Grip¬†product is the best one that I’ve found (and a little goes a long way).¬† The rulers have a slot in them that you place the rotary cutter in and move it along. We did think the slot was quite wide, but if you are consistent with how you place your cutter then this isn’t a problem.

More of an issue with the mini version Deborah was making, was that the pieces were small and partly bias cut, so were quite unstable. This meant that if you didn’t¬†iron them they would curl slightly and not sew together well, but if you ironed them, even a little too vigorously, they would stretch and be useless.¬† When you test out a quilt pattern, you are most often halfway through the patchworking build before the penny drops and we¬†see how to get it working well. This quilt was no different and after a number of goes building the curved block only to find that they were too small, we tweaked the pattern to make it ‘full proof’.

The choice of the colours used in the blocks joining the rings is really important. If you decide to make this quilt yourself, consider carefully what colour and pattern to use for these pieces. Deborah chose a Dashwood Twist in smoke and a Kona grey.

Below I have attached a free quick reference guide for quilting this piece. The correct quilting rulers make the job much easier and I enjoyed filling in the shapes I made with very basic designs. This was not a hard quilt to make look good.

 I am thrilled with this quilt. It would make a stunning baby gift or maybe one day I will get around to making the larger one for my bed! Sew Kind of Wonderful has lots of patterns using the quick curve rulers. The rulers themselves can be bought from Creative Grids, though I did have to buy the matching quilting rulers from Sew Kind of Wonderful in the USA.

 

GillyMac Metro Rings Quilting Plan

There are two classes this year to make this quilt… 20th June and 6th November, both classes are at my studio in Maidenhead and run from 10am -3.30pm – with lots of tea and homemade cakes – of course!¬†Every student gets an original copy of the pattern to go home with.