Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ruler work Revelation

I wanted to talk about something I recently discovered, and perhaps hear from others whether you've had a similar experience.

With ruler work being the newest domestic machine quilting trend, I've been exploring it more. Now that I have a ruler work foot (purchased in March) for both my Bernina 440, and Janome 1600P (for more than a year), I've been able to do a little comparison quilting. 

What I've learned is that ruler work on one machine may not be the same as ruler work on another machine. This revelation has added to my concerns about teaching ruler work quilting - as I have been asked several times to do.

You see, the ability to successfully accomplish ruler work quilting depends so much on the sewing machine! Not only is having a properly-fitting ruler work foot a necessity, but another concern is how the feed dogs are disengaged or covered. The sewing machine bed must be flat!

Let me show you.

As you can see in this close-up photo of my Janome sewing bed set up for quilting, this machine requires a special quilting plate that replaces the regular sewing plate. This one is thicker. See the area circled in red? The thickness of the quilting plate creates a small lip; there's a difference in heights. This thicker plate is meant to cover the feed dogs. The teeth of the feed dogs are engaged and moving, but they're "deep" enough below the surface that they cannot grab the fabric.

Even with a Supreme Slider on top of the sewing machine bed, the edge of the quilting plate is still slightly visible.


Very easily, when trying to slide the ruler and the quilt under the needle, the ruler can bumpily move along, or can even get hung up on the lip.

This was an accidental discovery when I was ruler work quilting a small piece with a thinner-than-usual batting - Warm 'n Natural. Sometimes the ruler would catch on that lip and I couldn't move the quilt at all. Grrr.

I'm surmising that I previously haven't had a problem with rulers because I most often use Quilter's Dream battings which are more dense. Sometimes I even use double batting (Quilter's Dream Wool on top of Quilter's Dream Cotton). Could quilting on a thicker quilt give more of a cushion that compensates for the lip underneath?

All this thoughts came together when I was ruler work quilting on the Bernina. It has feed dogs that can be lowered, meaning that the Bernina sewing machine bed is completely flat. There's no lip for a ruler to catch on.

However, I will continue to quilt on my Janome. For one thing, it stitches faster than a Bernina. And for another, it has a 9" harp (1/12" more space than the Bernina) for quilting big quilts.

My take-away from this is to simply be aware that any quilt on which I do Janome ruler work should have a substantial batting. Linda

8 comments:

  1. Very intersting, Linda! I just purchased a couple of rulers for domestic while in Paducah a few weeks ago, but have yet to try them out. Looking forward to giving them a try, it's all so new to me.

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  2. Or, feed dogs that drop.
    I agree. Janome really missed the boat on these silly plates. I do not like them bc they are not smooth.
    I have a White mechanical that I do all of my quilting on.
    Well, I am not ruler working... I probably never will any time soon, but this is good to know.

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  3. Great to see your comments Linda. I bought the foot for my Bernina 710 which has a really wide throat, but as yet haven't tried it! After my trip I must get it out and give it a go.I enjoy reading the little surveys you do, although not having the same machine as you, makes it a little different. LOVE MY BERNINA! :-)

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  4. A very interesting observation of the two machines. I have a Bernina Artista 730 and have done quite a bit of free motion quilting. Since I have a long arm for using rulers, I had not thought about a ruler foot for the Bernina. Maybe I should look into it for the future when I cannot move the 80 lb. head of the longarm around smoothly. What ruler foot did you get for your Bernina?

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  5. I've got a possible DIY solution for you......😃I'll email you when I have a chance. Moving a shop is time consuming.

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  6. Have you tried dropping your stitch length to 0?

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  7. Sorry hit publish to soon - if you set the stitch length to zero you shouldn't need the cover plate. I used that trick to free motion on one of my old machines that doesn't have a way to drop the feed dogs.

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  8. I have the teeniest lip on my bobbin plate on my Sweet Sixteen, and it is something to watch out for as I pass over it with my rulers. Wonderful post, and very educational!

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