Quilting with Rulers: A Paradox

In July of 2014 I shared a design based on a Zentangle design called Paradox. What I stitched was based on a drawing someone had shared done in triangles instead of a square. I later used the square version in my Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine (That's a 50% off link BTW!). It was just shown as an example of straight line designs, but not actually taught in the class.

Design shared on the blog
One of my students has been wanting to stitch out the design but was having trouble figuring out the stitch path and asked me (The beauty of a Craftsy class: you can ask the teacher questions and get answers!) for some help.

A similar version, but not the one shown in the class.

These designs are so easy to stitch out with a ruler once you figure out the stitch path and the illusion of curved lines. There are NO curves in this design!

Here the design is being stitched out using tiny triangles that are 1/4 inch wide at the base.

I drew up a diagram to give a little more clarity and thought I'd share it with you as well. Below, I've expanded the drawing to make it easier to see the stitch path. It removes some of the impact of the design and takes away a bit of the effect, but when you stitch it, you can add more lines for greater impact and the illusion of a spiral curve.

This is stitched with one continuous line, but I have changed ink colors with each rotation for better clarity. Starting at a corner, indicated by the blue arrow, place the ruler 1/4 inch away so the stitching starts right in the corner. place the other end of the straight ruler at whatever interval you would like to use depending on the space to fill and the density you want. For the square I used 3/4 inch spacing which means I used the 1/2 inch mark on my ruler at the corner. For the triangle I used a smaller spacing.

Working around the block, stitch a series of triangles, using the ruler against the foot at one end for the point, and offsetting the ruler at the other end to make the wider end. There's no back tracking either. The black dashes indicate where the spiral curve illusion appears when this design is drawn or stitched at a tighter spacing. It's actually a series or straight line segments.

I always get a little lost right in the center once it gets too small to neatly form the narrow triangle. Just keep going around the block until you've reached the center.

It's an interesting block with great texture. The density needed to make the illusion of curves work the best makes it a little stiff for a cuddly quilt, but great for a wall quilt or table topper.


  1. I can't wait to try this. I have done Paradox on paper but it would be fun to quilt it!

  2. I have just realised this is similar to the nail and thread pictures I made in the '70's - showing my age. might be able to find some patterns to use to stitch instead.
    Have a happy new year and happy stitching. Brenda in the Boro UK

  3. This is interesting to see this, as I've paper pieced these patterns.

  4. Thank you so much.
    I'm watching your class right now, it's amazing! :D
    Thanks again...