Edited September 25, 2015 to add: I am excited to let you know that Amy's Quilting Adventures now carries a wide variety of quilting rulers and the feet needed to use them safely. My recommendations and descriptions are detailed and informative, service is fast, and shipping is reasonable.
|Every single bit of this quilt in progress was quilted with rulers.|
I first experimented with a Janome ruler foot that was intended for use with a machine in a frame system, instead moving the ruler and quilt along the foot as a unit. It took some practice, but is totally doable! After some research, other feet were found (and some created by others) to use with this technique.
Sit down long arm systems have become popular in the last few years and these machines use the same "move the quilt" method of quilting as those who quilt on a sewing machine. These machines usually have a ruler foot available and the content I provide here is applicable to these machines.
Additionally, the high edge of a ruler foot reduces the clearance between the needle bar and the foot on a domestic sewing machine. This means that the clamp and bar that holds the needle in position can run into the top of the foot if the needle is lowered while the foot is in the raised position. This also has potential to damage your machine. The very simple habit of lowering the ruler foot into the stitching position before lowering the needle and not raising the foot when the needle is down solves this issue. Many quilters tend to bring up the bobbin thread with the foot in the up position and then lowering it for sewing. When using a ruler foot, always lower the foot before lowering the needle. A knee-lift makes this an easy task.
Using rulers on a stationary machine when free motion quilting is still a bit of an out-of-the-box technique and if you don't have a proper ruler foot, you may need to try some out-of-the-box thinking about the feet that are available; try different brands' feet, a different needle position to use with a different brand's foot, etc. There are 3 ruler feet now made by ruler companies for a wide variety of machines. You just need to match the shank type of your machine to the foot.
A ruler foot made to be used on the Janome 1600P when mounted on a frame system is what got me started with rulers. It hadn't been designed with the idea that someone would hold a ruler along with moving the quilt, but that's what I did.
The Janome 'ruler toe' is part of the Frame Quilting Foot Set and fits on the Janome Convertible Free Motion Foot Set for high shank machines, low shank machines, and special versions for specific models like the 8200/8900 (9mm machines) and the 1600P. Many machines other than Janome can use the Janome ruler foot when fitted with the proper convertible free motion foot set.
See my article on how to tell what shank type you have on your sewing machine.
Sit-down long arm systems have this type of foot available.
In my shop I carry the Janome parts needed for the Janome ruler foot combination which is still my favorite, but I also carry the Westalee ruler foot and am looking at a new ruler foot that I may soon carry. The feet from non-sewing machine companies are more affordable, but less adjustible and not quite as nice as those carried by Janome and now, BERNINA.
Westalee Ruler Foot Review
Foot Questions for Doing Free Motion Ruler Work
BERNINA:The info on this page has recently been updated as there is now a ruler foot made by Bernina for the domestic Bernina machines.
The Adjustable Ruler Foot #72 is compatible with their current line of machines; the 3 Series, 4 and 5 Series, and 7 and 8 Series. It is not compatible with previous generations of machines with four digits in the model number or earlier. This foot is separate from the BERNINA Stitch Regulator, and is not compatible with BSR. Please check in with your local BERNINA store to find out more about the Adjustable Ruler foot #72 and ruler sets, if the foot is compatible with your model BERNINA, price and availability.
Machines that can't use the new #72 foot can use other brand ruler feet but it requires the use of the Bernina Adapter shank (#77) and have had good reports.
Bernina has also come out with a long arm machine which can use regular Bernina free motion feet. Before the #72 foot became available, some were using the #96 foot on their Berninas. The new #72 foot is now the foot to get for your Bernina if it is one of their newer machines.
Bernina is not giving its blessing on the #96 ruler foot (for their long arm) or for the other brands' feet for use with their regular sewing machines because the needle clamp can run into the foot IF the foot is in the raised position when the needle is lowered. (This happens with all ruler feet BTW, just make sure the foot is down before lowering the needle.) I also have several Bernina users tell me they are using the #96 ruler foot anyway with good results. Be prepared to run into some resistance from most Bernina dealers if you try to buy the #96 foot for your regular Bernina machine. This could void your warranty.
Remember: the high edge of a ruler foot reduces the clearance between the needle bar and the foot on a domestic sewing machine. This means that the clamp and bar that holds the needle in position can run into the top of the foot if the needle is lowered while the foot is in the raised position. This also has potential to damage your machine. The very simple habit of lowering the ruler foot into the stitching position before lowering the needle and not raising the foot when the needle is down solves this issue. Many quilters tend to bring up the bobbin thread with the foot in the up position and then lowering it for sewing. When using a ruler foot, always lower the foot before lowering the needle.
Elna:I’m not sure about older Elnas, but they have been made by Janome for quite some time now and can use all the same feet from what I understand, plus Elna has the same feet for their newer Elna machines as Janome. So you could do which ever Covertible FMQ foot set that fits your machine, plus the frame quilting foot set and have the same ruler foot that I adore. OR you could use the Westalee foot, which is good and typically more economical if you don’t have the convertible fmq foot set already, since it comes with some rulers.
Just match up the shank type. See my article on how to tell what shank type you have on your sewing machine.
Juki:There is another ruler foot for a Juki, though I know nothing about the company.
There’s this hopping style ruler foot on ebay.
There is also a hopping style ruler foot available for low shank machines that I can only find by searching ebay for "ruler foot".
A Word About Rulers
The main thing to know about rulers is that there are 3 thicknesses available and a myriad of shapes and designs. Any hopping style ruler foot should use a thick (usually 1/4 inch) ruler so the ruler doesn't slide under the foot when the foot hops. Low shank machines using a non-hopping style foot (Janome, Clarity and Westalee) will find thinner rulers helpful. It is possible for a foot to be set too high and allow the thinner rulers to slide under the foot so I recommend the 1/4 inch (6mm) most of the time, but I also like the 4.5mm rulers made by Westalee. They are sturdier and have a better fit in the hand for holding in place.
|See link immediately below|
I am so excited about the design potential of using free motion ruler work! I have even set up a shop to make it easy to purchase a variety of the most useful rulers in one convenient place as well as ruler feet from Janome and Westelee. Visit Amy's Quilting Adventures.
I have even set up a Pinterest board for ruler work and design inspiration.
Click to see all posts regarding ruler work chronologically from newest to oldest. Some of the oldest may no longer be relevant as the technique has grown in popularity and new options have become available.
There are also my classes on this very technique at Craftsy! (That link can get you my classes for up to 50% off) Over 4000 students have already signed up for this class, the reviews have been wonderful, and they agree that it builds upon the information found here.