This is the second in my unknown number of parts series of quilting for domestic machine artists. Several interesting points stood out to me from comments both here and on Facebook following my last blog-post on ruler work for domestic machine artists. There are a lot of rulers, sometimes called templates, out there for this type of quilting; more keep being introduced; and they are relatively expensive. There is no way I can test them all, or even all the brands (but if you’d like to contribute to this blog using the PayPal donation button on the lower right, I will happily thank you and apply it to rulers/templates and provide further testing results).
So I suggest if you are just starting out that you buy only a few basic rulers–a good well-marked straight ruler, and a few shapes and curves, or one of those sets. Then learn to use them, and add them only as you need them for specific projects, which will help focus your ruler collection around the way you work. In a while, you might want to take an inventory of what you have and see where there are gaps you might need. I note that this series of blogs have forced me to do such an inventory and I have found some places I need some rulers. Please pay close attention to the quality and the marking. These things make a huge difference in your quilting results.
Another thing I hope you will do as you start using rulers is to be patient with yourself and just keep on practicing until you feel comfortable and have reasonably good results. I hated it when I started using rulers, but I totally love ruler work now. It’s amazing how easy it feels to me now when I found it really hard at first. I still am not that great at it, but I do so enjoy it that I think I might get there.
I still haven’t had a chance to borrow my daughter-in-law’s Gadget Girls rulers, but I will and tell you about them when I do.
I also find that I need to mark lines to guide my ruler work. This might be grids, or a simple line. It is not full marking of the planned design usually.
A Word About Marking
Everyone has their own marking methods they prefer, and I suspect that is the case with most of you. I have already mentioned some of this in past blogs, but it is worth revisiting. I have several products I particularly like. The choice for markers depends on whether I am going to wet block or wash my quilt after it is complete, what are the fabric weave and content, and the value (is it light or dark).
- My favorite marker is Crayola washable markers…the finest point available. This marker washes out of everything I have tested so far, even if I happen to iron over it. I only had one time I had to wash it twice, and that was using a brown marker on white tightly woven cotton. It came out though. This marker is not very expensive, it stays in place as long as it doesn’t get wet and you can easily see it (I sometimes have a hard time seeing the oft-recommended blue markers). But it has to be washed out with water.
- If I’m working on one of my art quilts that have a lot of silk, specialty threads, and other painting on it, I probably will not do more than a spritz of water and steam to block such a quilt. But regardless the marks have to come off one way or another.
- Mostly the different chalk markers, mechanical chalk pencils, and so on, tend to work fine, but I do avoid yellow because I had a terrible time getting that out one time, and I’ve seen others say the same thing. Mostly I remove these with a microfiber cleaning cloth…comes right off.
- Chalk goes away much too easily for most silks and satin weaves. I have spent much of my quilting career hunting for a good marker that stays in place on such fabrics while I need it and comes off without washing. I think I have tried all of the main types and brands on the market. The ones I found that works the best are the mechanical pencils by either Fons and Porter or Sewline. These, however, will also often go away well before I’m finished quilting satin weaves, such as Radiance cotton/silk or dupioni silk.
- I have found one method that works for satin weaves, but is sometimes tedious to remove. I trace the design on Golden Threads paper and stick it to the fabric with temporary adhesive dots trying to miss most of the stitching lines with the adhesive. Remove by tearing it off and catching resistant places with tweezers. I have even been known to use this method on very close stitching. Of course, it takes forever to remove and you shouldn’t use an open toe foot for this, because it gets caught under the paper. Here is an example…shadows under the steps on my quilt Perspective in Threads.
Look at the shadow under the steps. That was many lines of close stitching marked with the paper method. I printed the design on the golden threads paper and stuck it on. It took me hours to remove, but it worked. I stitched this whole quilt back in 2012. This was long before I started ruler work. I used straight stitch and decorative stitches on my Bernina 200E machine (I no longer have this) and marked with Crayola markers, except for the part under the steps. Today, I would just mark the general areas that need the close stitching and do close together ruler work, so I wouldn’t have any paper to remove. Here’s a picture of the marking.
- It also helps a lot to have some kind of very temporary marker around once you start quilting. I use either one of those that are air erasable or one of those fatter chalk pencils. These are handy for as-you-go additional marks, corrections, notes to yourself, and idea changes after sandwiching to the ones you make before you sandwich your quilt.
Sew happy everyone! Teach someone to sew or quilt…your brother, your child, your neighbor… Cheers.