A learning curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between how proficient people are at a task and the amount of experience they have. Proficiency (measured on the vertical axis) usually increases with increased experience (the horizontal axis), that is to say, the more someone performs a task, the better he or she get at it. (Wikipedia)
Recently I’ve become intrigued with learning how to quilt on my domestic machine using a ruler foot and quilting rulers. It seems kind of silly for me to learn that skill since my quilts the last 10 plus years have been tile quilts and I have nowhere to put fancy quilting. Maybe it’s time for me to move on with my style or allow places in my tile quilts that I can do the ruler quilting in. Hmmmmm….ideas forming…
Most of my quilts require little thought when I machine quilt them. The tiles are all fused on with Wonder Under so I quilt each of the tile pieces in order to make sure they don’t fall off. So not much creativity in getting them sewn on. The quilting is not the star in my tile quilts.
I decided to sign up for a ruler class at a quilt shop near me, Quilting Mayhem. It is a yearly “club” using Westalee Rulers that meets every month. Last year they made a whole cloth quilt. I can’t imagine making a full-size quilt that way, but I do admire any of them that I have seen at quilt shows and on social media. The project they are making this year is the Jewel Quilt by Angela Attwood using the Westalee Design Sampler Set 1 and it is a quilt as you go pattern. So not only am I learning how to use the rulers, but I am also learning how to attach the sections to each other using sashing. You can see from the photo on the front of the book that there is lots of open space for the ruler work to go.
Here are the rulers I’ll be using in this quilt, plus a couple others that I have in my stash.
I wondered why some of the enclosed shape ones had the little puzzle pieces taped to them. I soon found out why…I can’t tell you how many times I got my needle, thread and foot already to start a new design and forgot to insert the ruler around the needle and foot!
Here is my machine all set up, but oops! I forgot to insert the ruler!
Easy solution! Just remove the jigsaw puzzle piece and slip it around the needle and foot, then replace the puzzle piece. Saved by the puzzle piece!
It’s been an interesting process to learn how to use these rulers. It was recommended that we draw the blocks out on paper first and follow the direction of the quilting instructions given in the book using a pencil. It took me quite a few tries to figure out how to use the Spiral ruler, keeping in mind that there is a ¼” space between the edge of the ruler and where the needle goes. I was grateful for doing it on paper first. It really helped me to get the gist of it. I am not a big fan of drawing things out first. I’m usually chomping at the bit to get going and see results, however had I done that with this project, I think I would have been un-sewing a lot more than I actually did.
After I made the paper drawing, I made a fabric sample. I was also glad I did this because I got lots of practice trying to figure out how to keep the ruler snug to the ruler foot! It was also suggested that we make sure that the fabric marker we were using would come out. Can you imagine doing all that quilting only to find out that your marks were permanent? I’ve been using the Sewline pink lead. Another good lesson doing this sample was that you could hardly see all my imperfect stitches!
By the time I finished the fabric sample and washed it to make sure the fabric markings all came out I was ready to start on the real thing. I was pretty tired of drawing out this first block by now. I think I drew it 4 times. It’s 16” square.
With quilt as you go you must cut your pieces before you can begin. Each block needs to have the top and bottom fabrics and the batting cut. The top needs to be marked before sandwiching the three pieces together. Normally you make a quilt top, then worry about backing for it once you get ready for the quilting. If you send it out for a long armer to quilt it, you usually don’t even need to worry about the batting as that will be provided and included in your quilting costs. With the quilt as you go, you have to buy all the backing AND the batting. Pretty spendy to have all those upfront costs going on at once. But it will all be quilted when I’m done so I’ll just have to add the binding to the outside and be done!
And dealing with all the start and stop threads! ACK!! I don’t worry about them too much on my tile quilts, I usually just snip them off. They are going on a wall and probably won’t be coming undone. But this quilt will be a bed size quilt and I don’t want the threads to come loose. Each of those set of threads must be knotted and buried in the quilt sandwich. OMG there are so many threads! I initially started tying square knots and trying to get the two threads through a sewing needle. Fingers and eyesight were definitely being challenged! I finally watched a YouTube video and found a method that worked for both my fingers and my eyesight. I discovered Clover’s Self Threading Needles. Highly recommend having some of those in your needle stash! It made all the difference in the world, and I think saved my sanity. I LOVE these needles!
So far, I’ve finished the center block and the first round and have cut out my second round, marked each block out and sandwiched the pieces together. I’m happy with the results so far. Here is the front and the back of the first round. I’m using a line of fabrics called Grunge by Moda-Basic Grey. The blue cornerstones will get darker in each round.
The backing fabric is by Jason Yenter for In The Beginning fabrics and was designed for the Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop 2019. I’m thinking I may be able to flip it over if I get tired of the other side.
I still have a big learning curve before I become proficient at this skill, but I think by the time I am done making this quilt I will be pretty good at it! It’s kind of addicting, too.