Thoughts for a New Year

It's that time of year; the stores have cleared out the Christmas stuff already and before they go crazy with Valentine's Day stuff, they've got the workout gear stacked high in anticipation of New Year's resolutions to git fit and lose weight.

I'm not giving that stuff a single glance. Not that I don't need to lose weight, but I've got plenty of workout gear that's not been worn enough. Nope. What I am working on is trying to focus and make a plan for all the projects I want to work on.

And boy, do I have projects. Not just quilts-in-progress, but some clothes for my daughter, organizing projects for our little cottage, other quilting related projects, blog plans, home improvement, and the list goes on.

I hate that I find myself saying "I'm busy" when I've been asked how I have been. I heard a line about B.U.S.Y. standing for burdened under Satan's yoke a long time ago and it made me mindful not to cram the life of my family with too many activities that take away from enjoying one another.

Did you know that multitasking can make your brain perform worse than the brain of someone who is stoned? Here's an article on what to do when you find yourself too busy. Full of good stuff. Explains why I can get overwhelmed and decide maybe my Mommy-brain just isn't all that bright anymore! Add a bit of chronic sleep deprivation and wowza!

But this year, I'm working on a plan. Putting it down in writing, and working the plan. Because life doesn't always go according to plan ever, I'm also planning on extending myself some grace. I've read that putting your to-do's and projects down in writing frees up your brain to be more creative. When you try to remember it all, it's a lot like having too many tabs open in your computer's browser; slows it down.

There are calendar pages taped to my wall and post-it notes galore in my studio!

What are your plans for this new year? Quilty or otherwise? Anybody else eat too much pie?

A Friend Loves at All Times

I made this wall hanging for a friend of mine as a Christmas gift. It was fun and fast, especially since to finish it, I stretched and stapled it over a cheap painter's canvas.

Friends love at all times free motion quilting wall art

I have several cardboard heart templates on hand, so I traced around one for the heart. I wasn't thinking ahead and centered the heart in the middle of the piece and found myself running out of space. I marked a base line for the word 'friends' after marking the heart and freehand wrote it with my air-erase marker.

I did the stitching with Filtec's Affinity thread in Rainbow coloration. It's the variegated version of glide thread. Smooth stitching! I used white sewing thread in the bobbin.

I took a few short videos with my new camera too. But I don't know if I'll share them as they download differently than what I've done before. The pics shown here are also from the new camera. I still haven't ventured off of the automatic settings yet. It's not a Christmas present as it was a planned purchase from my quilting income, but it feels like one.

I stitched on white Kona cotton over a layer of batting, no backing. It worked ok, but it was a little harder to move the piece under my needle. It felt a little floppy and I had to be very careful to keep my hands centered around the needle so the fabric didn't bunch up. To finish the piece I just stapled it around a cheap painter's canvas from the hobby store, AC Moore. Since the piece was stretched around the stretched canvas and wood frame, it didn't matter that there was no back. But I worry that the single layer of fabric might not hold up well to the staples.

We had a lovely Christmas and I hope you did too!

Ruler Work Resource for Using Rulers on a Stationary Machine

Recently, the concept of Ruler Work with long arm rulers on a stationary machine has had some new developments in available feet and techniques and there's increased interest here on the blog about it. I've updated the blog page above on the subject to include the new information and have decided to run the content below (with a few additions) from that page as its own post for my newer readers.

Below are links to the posts I have done about using long arm rulers on a stationary machine. The machine can be a regular domestic sewing machine or one of the sit-down style long arm machines. It takes practice, but it can be done and yields some great results!

Ideally, you want a foot made for use with rulers. It can be done without a ruler-type foot, but should the ruler slip under or over the foot you can break a needle and possible throw your machine out of timing. (This means the hook and needle are no longer in the right place at the right time to form a stitch.) But here's a nifty way of doing ruler work without a ruler foot that is safer than most: No Ruler Foot? No Problem!

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 feet, different height of the foot (usually higher), a different needle position to use with a different brand's foot, etc. See the Tutorial for Using the Janome Ruler Toe on Berninas for ideas.

Sit-down long arm systems have this type of foot available.

The Janome 'ruler toe' is part# 767-434-005 and fits on the convertible free motion foot set for either high shank machines, low shank machines, or the 1600 convertible set. Newer, high-end Janomes come with their own version of the Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot set, but can use the Ruler Toe from the Frame Quilting Foot set also.

Foot Questions for Doing Free Motion Ruler Work 

Free Motion Quilting with Rulers, an Update


This blog post Tutorial for Using the Janome Ruler Toe on Berninas is the most current information on a ruler foot for Berninas. Follow it up with information on a new ruler foot from Parrs Reel Ruler.

Bernina has also come out with a long arm machine which can use regular Bernina free motion feet. It is expected that the long arm's feet can also be used on regular Berninas and it has a foot for doing ruler work. No idea when it will be commonly available and it may take some creative settings adjustment unless Bernina also has some sort of software/settings adjustment.

The following post on Berninas still hold true if you don't use either option given in the two posts above: Free Motion Foot and Toe Follow Up  (Mostly about Berninas) Also see the link for No Ruler Foot? No Problem!

Using Long Arm Rulers on a Sewing Machine

Cross Hatching Ruler Work on Sewing Machine

Video: Quilting with Ruler on a Sewing Machine

Quilting With Rulers on a Domestic Sewing Machine

Choosing Long Arm Rulers for Your Sewing Machine

New Rulers for Free Motion Quilting (Fine Line Rulers)

Video: Free Motion Quilting Curved Cross Hatching

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Ruler Work, Week 1

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Ruler Work, Week 2

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Ruler Work, Week 3

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Ruler Work, Week 4

Parrs Reel Ruler Foot Review

I am so excited about the design potential of using free motion ruler work!

I have even set up a Pinterest board for ruler work and design inspiration.

Life Long Learning

I wasn't really planning on posting today as the whole family is home and that hasn't been happening enough lately. Saturday is now "Cleaning Day" too since I've been working more. The kids are older too, so I feel like they can help more too. Let's face it, most of the mess is theirs anyway!

I worked extra at Sew Simple this week since the owner had the flu. I brought a little helper with me.
 We always do the general cleaning up and then we tackle an organizational project or home improvement project either together or individually. Today I am working on a bookshelf and trying to find a home for my overflow of quilting and sewing books.

Bin of extra books.

Yes, these are the overflow! You should see how many books and magazines I have on quilting. There's so much interesting stuff out there. Plus I now have a lot of blogging and business books too. There's always something more to learn!

Speaking of learning and the reason I'm posting today, is that Craftsy is having a big Christmas sale through Christmas. If you've been waiting for one of their sales to get more of their fabulous classes, now's the time. All classes are now $19.99 or less. Don't forget, you can buy classes for others as a gift and once you've bought a class, it's yours forever. You can go back and re-watch as much as you want.

I have two classes on my wishlist that I am going to buy: How to Teach It and In the Hoop Gifts, with Sue O'Very. I can always learn how to teach my students better (This class is in the knitting section though it's about teaching all crafts, not just knitting.)  and I want to be able to use the embroidery machines at work better to show their capabilities better and in-the-hoop projects are hot right now, not to mention a lot of fun.

Did you know that you can watch all the QuiltCon lectures for free on Craftsy? You can! Lesson 2 in the series is about taking better pictures of your quilts. A must see. Guess who is working on better pics for her blog and will be getting a new camera for Christmas? Not that it's a Christmas present; I worked hard for the funds to buy it, and my blog contributed to the fund. So a big THANK YOU!

I love my Craftsy classes! They fit my schedule and are well done. Sometimes there are bits that I want to skip over as I don't have a lot of time, so I can use the 2x button to speed things up. It makes the teachers sound a bit like chipmunks, but it's like speed reading for video. (It can be extra entertaining too.) The above links are affiliate links and they help support all the time I put into this blog.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend and finishing up your holiday preparations.

No Ruler Toe? No Problem.

Sort of.

You know how sometimes when working on a problem, you need fresh eyes? You just can't figure it out until you look at it with a new perspective? Well, that's happened today with ruler work.

I've been trying to figure out how those of you who want to do ruler work, but don't have a proper ruler toe, can fit a ruler toe to your various machines. But I have the ruler toe, so I haven't been playing around with the usual free motion feet that are out there. I haven't been thinking about what I would do if I had no ruler toe. I have been very careful to not be overly encouraging of using your regular free motion foot with a ruler for fear of the ruler slipping under or over the foot and causing damage to your machine and needle.

While surfing Pinterest, I found Marelize Ries from Stitch By Stitch. She's figured it out! Turns out she had won a set of Fine Line Rulers from Linda at Flourishing Palms. Marelize doesn't have a ruler foot, but that didn't stop her. The smart cookie figured out that she could use the ruler on the right side of her free motion quilting foot and run it along the shaft of the foot, not the actual ring around the needle. (Click on the first link above to go to her site and see how she's using it. She's using a  Bernina. Visit Linda too! Great quilting goodness at both sites.)

I'm running the ruler along the acrylic base at the bottom of the shaft of this generic hopping style foot.

This is fabulous! I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this. It's much safer than running the foot along the thin rim of a regular free motion foot. I gave it a whirl under my open toe hopping foot and while it got hung up with some of the hops, it certainly was in no danger of breaking a needle or taking out the timing of my machine. I found that slightly rocking the ruler by merit of the resistance strip down the middle away from the foot helped (pressing down more on the right side of the ruler).

Here you can see it more clearly with the needle up.

This positioning certainly does have some limitations, especially in being able to move the ruler around the foot as needed and is harder to judge spacing and alignment. You certainly can't use the Top Anchor rotating rulers with this method, but it should work well for simple ruler work designs.

I am so happy to share with you yet another way to use rulers with free motion quilting. Many thanks to Marelize!

Quilting a Community

One of the things I love about quilting is the sense of community it fosters. While we quilters are an increasingly diverse group, there is that shared love of creating with fabric and thread and having our creations warm the body and/or soul. I love that even a pink haired twenty something quilter can have a point of interest that can intersect with that of a prim, blue-haired great grandma.

There are quilting guilds galore, quilting clubs, and cars full of quilting friends who travel all the quilt 'hops' from shop to shop. Shows, conferences and retreats too. There are even quilting cruises! Absolutely amazing and wonderful.

With the ability to hop on the internet and travel virtually world-wide, we can learn all kinds of techniques, 'meet' quilters from all over, and develop our own communities online. The internet, combined with quilting has given so many people an opportunity to build relationships and share their creativity.

My friend Robin and I 'met' first on a quilting forum online, then met in real life.
We quilters have a lot of love and friendship to share. Quilts of Valor, Project Linus, and many other great organizations have been formed as ways of blessing others with gifts of quilts and more. Quilters are a generous bunch!

This blog and its growth just amazes me. What started as a crafty escape from the worries about a husband with cancer and 3 little kids has grown almost as fast as my children have. You might want to read how cancer made me a better quilter. Just this past week my YouTube channel passed 3000 subscribers!

Being online has helped my interest in quilting grow, expanded my skills and knowledge, and pushed me to complete more projects than ever. I bet it has done similar things for each of you as well.

My blogging has grown from a "Look what I did" personal journal of sorts, to a "Look at what I can do and here's how you can do it too" kind of thing. It amazes me that while most of my blog's readers are in the USA, there are still so many from so many different countries. Canada, the UK, and Australia are my next biggest readership, but there are visits from places like Latvia, Greece, Iceland, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe. There are even a few visits from countries that I wasn't quite aware of until this blogging thing happened. Google Analytics says I have received visits from 170 different countries! It's hard to believe that there are so many folks tuning in to read what I have written and posted.
Map of visitors from Google Analytics for the last 3 years.

Last week I was able to enjoy vicariously the excitement of a brand new quilter. She's a customer of the Janome dealership where I work part-time. She hadn't sewn at all and was so excited about her upcoming class that she quizzed me silly via the shop's Facebook page about machines. She had researched her machine choices and was determined that she wanted a machine she wasn't going to outgrow anytime soon. She ended up buying the brand new model Skyline S5 by Janome and she's used it so much in just one week that she's used an entire spool of thread just practicing her piecing.

One of the things that I think has her so excited is that she's going to be taking her classes with a good friend and she's also had a cousin (or friend?) help her start doing some piecing once she got her machine. That's the kind of enthusiasm I now 'see' in my mind when I get great comments here on the blog. I am so blessed to have a small part in someone else's creative journey!

I really think that without the people of quilting, the relationships it fosters, the people we gift the works of our hands to, quilting wouldn't be the heart (and body) warming craft and art that it is today.

All this rambling is to just say thank you and to encourage you to continue to help and encourage other quilters as you have helped me.

Working with Text Part 2

In the first part of this series, I showed you how to use Microsoft Word to make patterns for text projects. I covered how to not only get the letters or other text the font and size you want, but also how to make those huge letters in an easy to trace outline form.

enlarging text over multiple pages

It tends to be easiest to then print out the letters and use them individually, using a scaled-down version of your text document to guide the placement and spacing. If your printer can use larger paper than standard copy paper, you can use the paper size selection menu in Paint. Sometimes a sheet of legal paper is just what you need. See below.

Sometimes you want to print out your text at full size to get the full effect of the words together. If legal size won't do it, and you aren't blessed with a large format printer, this means printing on multiple sheets of standard 8.5x11 inch paper and taping the image together.

 There are several ways to do this, depending on what programs and even what printer options you have. Again, I am not an expert, and many of you may already have a better way that works for you. But here's a basic way to do it for free on a program most PC users already have. (I have another way that involves a graphics program, but that will the next part of this series.)

First make a text document that you want to print out in a large format (Above). If you made one following the steps of Part 1 of the series, open it now. Make sure it's spaced and sized how you want it. Highlight all the text and copy it with a right mouse click. Now open MS Paint. Most PCs come with this program in the Accessories folder. Paste your text selection into it. Sometimes some odd shifting happens in the copy/paste procedure.

 It's pretty easy to adjust the placement of the words by selecting the words that I want to shift and then dragging them into position. Below, I shifted the bottom line slightly to the left.

 Paint does not treat the text as vector images, so don't stretch the words much to resize. Instead use the resize option to the right of the select button for this. (Not shown) Your won't be able to specify inches or similar measurements with resizing or with Paint in general, just percent or Pixels. You have to play around with it to get it how you want it. Other programs have this feature, but again, that's for another post. It's best to get them the size you want them in the Word document before importing into Word.

 Since this method will print across several sheets of paper, I like to place a box around the phrase to help with centering the text on my project. It also helps with lining up the pages after they've been printed. (Above) The orange arrow points to the rectangle selection. Once you've clicked it, you can click and drag on the screen to make a perfect rectangle. In the upper right corner of the screen shot above is the line size button. I make it the thinnest.

Once you've got the image and text how you want them, it's time to set up the page.

Click the blue tab indicated by the orange arrow. On the drop down list, hover over the Print button as indicated by the green arrow. Don't worry, it won't start printing at this point. This brings up a sub-menu (you can also click on the little arrow to the right of the Print button. Go to Page Setup as indicated by the blue arrow. The dialog box below will pop up.

Much of this is pretty straight forward. Chose the size of paper you will be using and decide between portrait or landscape. Don't bother with margins. The bottom portion is where we will get this document nice and big.

Choose whether to center the text horizontally or vertically (orange arrow). I did both. Then click the circle by "Fit to" indicated by the green arrow. The blue arrow shows where you can now decide how many pages to print on. I entered in 2 by 2 pages. This is a fairly easy but imprecise enlargement process since we all can pretty much visualize the size of multiple sheets of standard paper. If you can't, pull out a few blank sheets and lay them out side by side to get a feel for how many pages you need. See the difference in the grey 'preview document'? Click OK.

You can preview before you print. The arrows above show you at the print menu again, but selecting 'Print preview'. I didn't get a shot of this, but Paint will show you the individual pages that it is going to print. It would be helpful if it showed all the pages at once, but it doesn't.  If you don't like what you see, go back and adjust things, resize, whatever.

Then you are ready to actually go to the print menu and hit Print! Double check and make sure your printer and Paint agree on the orientation (portrait vs. landscape)

This a previous version, without the rectangle around the words.
Then you will get your lovely large sets of letters/text. My example just happened to print each word out on it's own complete sheet of paper. That's what works best for making the  pattern, fewer pages to tape and lines to match up. But, ideally to better show you this technique, I would have had some letters cut between pages.

With Paint, you are likely to get some pixelation  of the lines. It's nothing that going over the lines with pencil or pen won't cure. Again, not ideal, but cheap and easy.

Then you tape the pages together. You can see in the image above where I cut away the margin where the box crossed from one page to another so I could tape it precisely. Sometimes it will be off a smidge and you just adjust accordingly.

So there you go. A quick and easy way to get larger phrases really big using Word and Paint. BTW, other things can be enlarged this way, not just text.

Upcoming parts of this series will be using a graphics program to enlarge words in a specific area to a particular dimension and various ways to transfer the text to your quilt.

Sunday Kind of (Quilty) Love

Sundays are made for relaxing, recharging, and relationships. After church, I find it's a great time to unwind by doing a little website surfing. So to that end I give you a few sites I've found recently. Some are quilty, some are just interesting, and some are of interest to a quilting blogger.

First, I wanted to share that free motion quilting instructor extraordinaire, Patsy Thompson has been playing around with ruler work lately and she's done a video you will enjoy.

I have become obsessed with the blog of softie designer, Abby Glassenberg. First of all, her softies are adorable, but she writes a lot about what's going on in the world of crafty, creative blogs and the work of the professionals behind them. I find it fascinating, a bit overwhelming, and very, very interesting. I'm working through her archives and am up to page 32 if that tells you how much I like what I'm reading.

Do you find yourself in a quilt shop looking at the yummy, must have fabric, knowing that it can't all come home with you? You start trying to do the math to calculate just how much you need for that quilt you want to make. While I don't have a problem with ever buying too much fabric, I usually do have a budget. If you are too conservative and get home without enough fabric for a particular project, it can actually be more expensive than buying a smidge too much. If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can take advantage of a yardage calculator. There's a few out there, but here's one from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. It's free!

With the popularity of online classes like those at Craftsy, the internet is turning into a hugely exciting classroom. How do you find good classes that fairly compensate the teachers without spending a fortune? Checking reviews is the best answer. Looking for free classes is good too. Can't go too wrong with free, though sometimes you get what you pay for. You can pace yourself by setting a budget, waiting for classes to go on sale (Craftsy is awesome at this! They even have a wishlist you can set up so you know exactly which class it was you wanted to buy the next time they have a sale) or try Skillshare.

Skillshare, an online class site has a free option in which you can take any class you want, but you can only watch 1.5 hours of content. I didn't find any quilting classes there, but did find a few knitting and crochet classes. There are a lot of interesting classes for business, blogging, writing, photography and various aspects of design and some other non-fiber crafts. Some of the teachers are obscure, while others are pretty well-known. I've found that 1.5 hours per week is just fine for me for some classes that I might never bother to pay for and also some classes that I might not normally be able to afford. I'm going to start using it as a weekly reward.

Now to wind up this post and return it to the subject of ruler work, it's time for some eye candy. Linda Hrcka at the Quilted Pineapple does absolutely gorgeous quilting on her long arm. She combines curvy feathers and ruler work to finish some lovely quilts. She even has a page entitled Eye Candy. It is sweet!

Proverbs of Quilting

Today, I'm sharing with you the wisdom, humor, and awesome writing skills of my friend Robin. To understand part of her wisdom, though she calls herself foolish, you will need to know that the Marvy Marker is one of those purple air-erase markers which can disappear quickly.

Chapter 1

1The proverbs of Robin daughter of Mary, quilter of stuff:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;

3A foolish quilter marketh her top with Marvy Marker and taketh a nap;
4A wise quilter nappeth not.

5A foolish quilter thinketh she can adjusteth while using a ruler;
6A wise quilter knoweth it is vanity.

7A wise quilter alloweth two years to worketh with a ruler;
6A foolish quilter alloweth two hours to worketh with a ruler.

8A foolish quilter marketh one border side with Marvy Marker;
9A wise quilter marketh 5 or 6 blocks.

10A wise quilter talketh not while using a ruler;
11A foolish quilter blabbeth to her daughter while using a ruler.

12A foolish quilter marketh with Marvy Marker;
13A wise quilter marketh with chalk.

14A wise quilter knoweth the ruler is a device of Satan and seeketh the light;
15A foolish quilter knoweth not and followeth Satan into darkness.


Give your compliments to Robin in the comments please? She's an excellent writer and funny as all get out. I'm hoping she will share with us again. Our quilting theologies do vary somewhat as she's a longarmer and clearly has ruler issues, but I won't hold it against her!

A Ruler Foot Alternative: Parrs Reel Ruler

One of my passions in free motion quilting is doing ruler work. As I've posted before, the right foot for making these smooth lines and curves while quilting with long arm rulers and templates is an absolute must. This is a bit of an out-of-the-box technique right now, which takes a creative solution.

To use a regular free motion foot with long arm rulers/templates is to risk the ruler hopping over or under the foot, resulting in a broken needle at best, or a broken needle and a machine with the timing gone awry. It can be done, but isn't recommended.

In fact, even though I first put a ruler toe from the Janome Frame Quilting Foot Set (for the Janome 1600) on the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot Set (High Shank) for my Janome 6600P nearly 3 years ago, it wasn't until recently that Janome gave me the thumbs up on the use of the toe this way.

Anyone with a Janome machine should be able to use the ruler toe on a Convertible Free Motion Foot Set for their particular machine. Some of the lower end machines may not be specifically listed, but should still be able to use the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot Set for Low Shank Models .

The product links in the above 2 paragraphs are Amazon Affiliate links, which may provide me with some pocket change should you order something from Amazon after clicking them. This costs you nothing and helps compensate me for all the time I put into this blog.

There are some other brands that can use Janome feet, though some experimentation may be in order. Because fitting these feet to a non-Janome machine can be tricky, it is advised that you buy the feet from a Janome dealer in person, if possible, so you can test the fit before spending your money. (Besides, it's just a great idea to support local dealers over internet shops when possible!)

Juki has a hopping style ruler foot available on Ebay. Finishing Touches also has a ruler toe for Juki and a few other machines.

Most sit-down long arm machines should have a ruler foot available or be able to use the feet available from Finishing Touches.

Reneah has given us a fabulous tutorial on fitting the Janome ruler toe to a Bernina.

And finally, a reader had given me a heads-up on a new source for a ruler foot that she found at Fall Quilt Market. This new company bills their foot as available to fit nearly every model of machine and makes a version to fit the Bernina Shank Adapter.

I happen to have one sent to me by another reader and the creator of the Top Anchor Quilting Templates.

Now here's where it gets a little tricky, so it's best for me to state a disclaimer of sorts:

I am a Janome user. I have no access to the majority of machines available to test these feet to see what does or does not work. As I stated in the first paragraph of this post, it's a bit out-of-the-box. I am doing my best to let you know of suitable feet as I come across them, but I cannot assume responsibility for your results on your machine.

I think for the most part, my readers understand this.

So this new foot comes from all the way across the pond in the UK. It is called the Parrs Reel Ruler. It was not designed particularly to use with long arm rulers and templates as I have shown here, but instead to use with their own ruler system.

I am not particularly interested in their rulers, just the foot. The company has a wonderful series of videos on their site to see the rulers and foot in action. Check them out.

The foot that was sent to me also came with one of their rulers and I believe I have been spoiled by the thick, high quality rulers and templates made from 1/4 inch thick acrylic here in the states. The Parrs Ruler was thin and very lightweight in comparison, made from clear plastic. I was surprised to see they were only 1/8 inch thick. One drawback to their system is the need to 'break' (cut) thread to reposition the ruler away from the line of stitching. You are to use the groove in the center of the ruler to guide your stitches.

So the foot: It is a hopping style foot, which means it's a bit noisy, and in the down position presses pretty far down on the bed of the machine. As it hops, it does clear the quilt fine. At least on my machine it did. Betty, who sent me the foot she bought for her machine, a high shank vintage Singer, said the foot didn't allow room for the quilt to move under the foot.

This is the clearance in the high position. There are directions included to bend the bar over the needle bar and adjust the position somewhat.

Here's one big draw back: The ruler foot is smaller than most, as it's made to ride snuggly in the center groove of their rulers. This means you can't use their rulers with a standard 1/2 inch diameter ruler toe. It will not allow for the precise 1/4 or 1/2 inch spacing using lines on a standard long arm ruler. The Parrs Reel Ruler that came with the foot seemed to have adjusted the ruler lines to accommodate this variance. You also can't use this root on any rulers or templates that need a 1/2 inch foot for proper spacing as in TopAnchor's rotating templates or Quilter's Groove ProLine rulers.

Size comparison between my Janome foot and the Parrs

The smaller size of the ruler foot gives me a bit of worry as there is a bit of play (wiggle) to the foot in its shaft. I did have to move my needle position to the left a few spots to get it closer to the center of the foot. This did leave my needle a bit front of center and I was worried that pressure from a ruler could lead to a broken needle on this foot, so in my "test drive" I didn't use a ruler positioned against the front of the foot. Given that this particular foot was not bought/fitted for my machine (but for Betty's), I can't say that this is a flaw on their part. Though if the foot was a standard 1/2 inch in diameter, there would be plenty of room around the needle.

The foot has excellent clearance for a ruler all the way around the foot. In fact, it has better clearance in one spot than the Janome ruler toe combination. Even though their rulers are thin, the sides of the ruler foot are sufficiently high to keep rulers from sliding over or under the foot.

Their website states that they can adapt the foot to a variety of machines, including Janome. The options given are for low reach, high reach, or Bernina machines. I assume that reach is equivalent to shank. I would definitely contact them to make sure the foot would fit before ordering as the order form gives no other fit options than those three options. The video shows the foot on what looks like a Janome.

The cost is pretty high, but you also get the #1 ruler and a Sew Slip mat (similar to the Supreme Slider). It has to be shipped from the UK, though they seem to be working on setting up a US distributor.

I will post a video review of the foot as soon as possible. Edited to add: I totally forgot to post the video for 4 months. You can see it now at Parrs Reel Ruler Foot Review.

My verdict? If you have yet to find a ruler foot for your machine, or live overseas and shipping from the states is cost prohibitive, you might want to try the Pars Reel Ruler foot. With it's smaller 'foot print' and slight wiggle to the shaft I can't recommend it over a Janome foot if you are trying to make that choice. If they ever change their design to 1/2 inch diameter (unlikely since they'd also have to change their rulers), I might be tempted to choose it over the Janome foot, despite the hopping, for the 360 degree clearance and better view around the foot. Would I really want both? Not at the current prices for either.

Quilty Day of Rest

I mentioned last week that my oldest child had been sick. The other kids and I have been hit with  various levels of winter yuck, but thankfully none of us required a trip to the doctor. Last week I was in denial as I prepared for 2 days at the shop working for our Christmas open house.

A box of 'candy' for a thread obsessed quilter!
 One of the new things we got into the shop in time for the event was Glide thread. I am so tickled to now have a source of this yummy thread so close to hand. (Hmmm...guess whose idea it was to get carry this thread?) Opening the box reminded me of getting one of those Whitman chocolate boxes; there was a foam sheet over the entire box, keeping each color snuggled in its place.

Yesterday, I finally admitted defeat and so began a nice lazy day of rest, trying to make the best of feeling yucky.

I got out a few magazines that I had bought and hadn't had a chance to read. Mainly, I drooled over the pictures of the award winning quilts in the magazine for AQS. So much beautiful quilty goodness!

I also downloaded the Craftsy app so I could watch my latest classes on my Android tablet while lazing about in bed. I bought 2 machine embroidery classes as I need to demo the embroidery machines at the shop. I want to be as prepared as possible.

A pressing board works as a mouse pad...

When lazing about made me feel just outright lazy, I puttered about in my sewing space. I rearranged it recently to try to take better advantage of the natural light. I'm still not sure I'm ready to show you much of it.

Look at all that light!

I'm hoping this new set up will allow me to get better pictures and videos to share with you. Looking at my pictures, I feel like I ought to 'prettify' my studio. That's what some down-time gets you- even more project ideas!

I hope you've been having a good weekend and are healthy and hopefully doing something quilty!

Now, there's a bed calling my name!

Ruler foot for Berninas: A Tutorial

I shared my technique of combining the ruler toe from the Janome Convertible Free Motion Frame Quilting Foot Set with the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot Set more than two years ago in this post on Quilting Tools. It was quickly followed up by my most popular post ever, Quilting with Rulers on a Domestic Sewing Machine. It's been such a great technique for achieving smooth lines and curves when free motion quilting. Since it involves Janome feet, Bernina owners (and other who can't use the Janome feet) have been so eager to find a way to use this foot or an equivalent foot.

Through my work with Top Anchor Quilting Tools, Betty Bland put me into contact with Reneah Rafferty, a Bernina Educator who has made the following tutorial to use the Janome foot on Berninas! Yay!

I know we've had a few creative souls who have tried to make it work before, and I admit wishing I had tried harder to figure it out before now, but I am a Janome girl, so I would not have figured out that the compatibility issue could be fixed with the computer settings.

Update: Looks like the new Bernina long arm machine will have interchangeable feet with the domestic Berninas, including the ruler foot. Though there may be some software updates needed to use the long arm's ruler foot on a regular Bernina or some creative settings adjustment, like Reneah has done below. I have no idea when the long arm's feet will be available for purchase, especially separately from the long arm. we just keep getting closer to having ruler feet for everybody!

Update to the Update: Since the thickness of any ruler foot can cause the top of the needle bar/clamp to hit the top of the ruler foot, ALWAYS put the foot in the lowered position before lowering the needle! This applies to all ruler feet and machines at this writing (8/4/15) and is the reason why Bernina is not recommending the use of their new ruler foot for the long arm to be used on the regular Bernina machines. In my opinion, this isn't a big issue as long as you can discipline yourself to lower the foot before lowering the needle.

She did this tute with her Bernina 880 and promises to check other machine going forward from here. Many thanks to Reneah and Bernina for this information.

(If you have a different brand of machine that still doesn't have a suitable foot for ruler work, don't despair. I have some information in the works for you too!)

So here's Reneah:

The following are the steps I needed to do to set my Bernina 880 for quilting ruler work.

Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

Accessories You will need
The following feet and accessories are needed.

Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014
Bernina 77 foot
Step 1:  Purchase the Bernina 77 foot which allows you to add another company’s shank and use that companies specialty feet. 

Step 2:  For the Bernina 880, I will be using the below, Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilt Foot Set for HIGH SHANKThis can be purchased at your local Janome Dealer.  The Janome Convertible Free Motion Shank I like because there is a spring to the right and screw that allows you adjust the height of the foot or the distance from the foot to the quilt.

Convertible Free Motion Quilt Foot Set (High Shank) Part # 202001003

Step 3:  Also, from a Janome Dealer you will need to purchase the Convertible Free Motion Frame Quilting Feet for 1600.  These optional feet can be used with the Convertible Free Motion Quilt Shank.  The ruler toe foot is a perfect height for the ¼” rulers.   It actually looks like a hopping foot that the long arm machines have.   With most domestic home sewing machines, the free motion foot is thin and you have to worry about the foot sliding under the ruler or template and possibly breaking a needle.  Per the instructions on the package attach the ¼ inch ruler foot to the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilt Shank.

Convertible Free-Motion Frame Quilting Feet for 1600P Series
 Part Number: 767434005
Step 4:  Attach the Convertible Free Motion Quilt Shank to the Bernina 77 Adapter. 
Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

Step 5:   Attach the Bernina foot 77 to the machine. If your machine is in a cabinet, drop the machine down so it is flush within the cabinet or use the tray that came with the machine.

Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

Supreme Slider-When you are doing free motion quilting there is a lot of strain on your arms and shoulders to push and pull the quilt under the machine.  In order to help the quilt move easily, I use the Supreme Slider on the machine.  A Supreme Slider is made of 100% Teflon which is very slippery and allows the fabric move smoothly.  This is important for domestic sewing machines.  Place the white side up.

Setting up the Bernina 880 Machine
The following are the settings that I found that would work with my Bernina 880 machine.  Each machine may be slightly different, but this will give you starting point or a guide to start by.
1.      Select stitch number 1 in the Practical Stitches
All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

It will be necessary to trick the machine to think we have a different foot on the machine.  Press the foot icon on the left of the screen.  As shown in the next picture, it is 1C. 

3.      Select the, the darning which foot 9.

All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

4.      Close the window.
5.      If you would like, you can lower the feed dogs.  Personally, I leave them up but adjust the stitch length to zero.  The zero stitch length keeps the tension in tack but doesn’t allow the fabric to move.  Much like having the feed dogs down.    This will be an individual preference. 


All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

6.      The needle position will need to be moved over to the right so that the needle is in the center of the ruler foot.  Press the right arrow button on the machine for the needle position 5 times.  It will show as the below with the 9 foot.

7.      Presser foot pressure will need to be adjusted.  With the machine default settings, the foot will press on the fabric not allowing it to move freely.  This setting is one that will not be set in stone and is an individual setting depending on the thickness of the quilt and your machine.   I am working with muslin on the top and bottom with Warm and Natural batting.  Press the Pressure foot icon on the machine.  Press the “–“ sign until you reach at least a -20.  Depending on your project thickness, you may need to go to -25 and also adjust the screw on the Janome foot so that the foot just lightly touches the fabric.  On a scrap piece of quilt sandwich, test to make sure that the fabric moves freely under the foot when free motion quilting.  You don’t want the foot too high.  This will cause the fabric to flag and you may experience skip stitches.

All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

8.      The last setting that needs to be made to the machine is the deactivating the hover feature when the needle is in the down position.  Press the setup icon on the right toolbar.  

9.      Press the plus on the Sewing Settings icon.

10.  Press the plus on the Programming Function-button/Function icon.

11.  Press the plus for the Press Foot Position with Needle Stop Down icon.

12.  Press the first option that will not allow the foot to rise when you are not sewing and the needle is in the down position.  Remember we adjusted the pressure foot pressure in a previous step with the Janome foot shank adapter.  The foot will be raised slightly in this position.

All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014

13.   Press the “X”.

You are now ready to do ruler work with your Bernina 880 as a sit down machine.    The templates I highly recommend and have had success with is Top Anchor Quilting Templates.  Their website is

All screen shots property of Bernina of America  Copyright Reneah D. Rafferty, Inc. 2014
Back to Amy:

There it is folks! I hope this helps you to set up a ruler foot for your machine. This may not work exactly the same across all models but should be fairly similar. Leave Reneah questions in the comments and I'll do my best to get her to answer them. She reads this blog, so she may answer directly.