5 tips to ruler work success: quilting on a domestic sewing machine

I’m so excited about the designs you can create using the decorative stitches in embroidery mode of the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2, that I showed in yesterday’s post. I had to put my experimenting on hold as I explored another aspect of quilting – ruler work.

I have some great tips to share with you as I show you some samples that I stitched out.

Let’s get started.

Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2 with optional extension table

The ruler foot

This is the ruler foot for the Designer EPIC 2. What I love most about this foot is there’s a single hole used to attach it to the presser foot bar, not a slot. Guess what that means? No need to adjust the height of the foot. Simple!

You’ll notice there are red lines and two notches on the foot. These features help with lining up the rulers and templates with your registration marks and for better visibility in those intricate areas.

The ruler foot for the Designer EPIC 2

TIP 1 – Use the straight stitch plate

Whenever I quilt or embroidery with the Designer EPIC 2, I like to use the straight stitch plate. The straight stitch plate has a smaller opening which means less movement of the fabric when the stitches are formed. This helps to ensure the stitch is properly formed.

The ruler foot has been attached and the straight stitch plate is in place

Free-Motion Options

It’s easy to move into the free-motion mode on the Designer EPIC 2. All I have to do is select the Free-Motion Options icon along the bottom of the Interactive Touch Screen. Almost any stitch can be used in free-motion mode, but the two most common stitches are the straight stitch and the zigzag stitch.

The Free-Motion options icon is third from the right

There are three different options for free-motion quilting. By selecting the correct option, various settings are changed within the Designer EPIC 2. No guesswork and super easy. I strongly suggest you sit down with some scrap quilt sandwiches and truly understand which free-motion option is best for which quilting scenario and thread type.

It’s very important to choose the correct presser foot for the free-motion option you selected. Doing otherwise can damage your presser feet, as well as your rulers and templates.

Free motion option menu

Should you need to adjust the height of the presser foot (if what you’re stitching through is thicker than normal), it’s easy to adjust with the buttons on the screen.

Menu to allow changes to the height of the presser foot

The Templates

Inspira has a ruler foot template collection which consists of three templates, the instructions, as well as the 8 -point Crosshair Ruler.

I’m using this template set to show you some amazing designs you can create.

I also worked with the 12″ Arc ruler which has a straight edge along one side.

The template Instructions and the 8 – Point Crosshair Ruler

Continuous Figure 8, Heart, and the Spin-E-Fex 10 templates

The Straight Edge Ruler

One of the best skills I ever learned was how to do free-motion stitch in the ditch quilting. Yes – it was years ago I took the plunge and I never looked back. I still use my walking foot, just not for all my stitch in the ditch quilting.

It’s not practical to pivot your quilt (I never pivot my projects), so you can follow all the lines using your walking foot. If you stitch in the ditch with your free-motion presser feet, you can move your quilt in any direction without pivoting it. This is a huge time-saver and is much easier on your body.

However, it can be a challenge to make a perfectly straight line. Something easy to do with the walking foot.

Until recently, using rulers on a domestic sewing machine was not an option. Now that there is a ruler foot, using rulers to do free-motion stitch in the ditch is awesome.

Using the straight edge ruler to stitch out a straight line in free-motion

TIP 2 – Always bring up your bobbin thread

Make sure you always bring up the bobbin thread to the top of your quilt sandwich. I do not use the Cut function when I’m quilting so I can leave long tails for the bobbin and the top threads.

You may have to move your quilt sandwich away from the needle to get the thread up as you can see in the photo below. Then just move it back so the needle is positioned over where the thread came through the quilt sandwich.

Pull the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt sandwich

TIP 3 – Always put the presser foot down before you put the ruler beside it

Always, put the ruler foot down before you slide the ruler or template up to it. You don’t want the ruler foot to accidentally come down on the ruler or template. That can cause damage to the ruler or template or even your presser foot. Do not forget this tip.

The straight edge ruler is snugged against the presser foot which is in the down position

In the example below, the bottom row of stitching was stitched freehand. Not a bad straight line considering it was done freehand, but not as straight as the top two rows of stitching which were stitched using a straight ruler.

The top two lines were stitched using a straight edge ruler, the bottom line was stitched freehand

TIP 4 – Never pivot your project

As I mentioned, I never pivot my work. That’s the advantage of working in the free-motion mode, you can move your fabric in 360 different directions.

Even as I worked on this small sample, I rotated the ruler, not the work. Since my project was small, I was working with the embroidery arm still attached, but I would recommend you use the extension table. You need room so the ruler or templates are supported.

Stitching sideways instead of pivoting the work

Stitching backward can be a little tricky as it’s hard to see where you’re supposed to be stitching.

If you have a flat surface to position the ruler, it’s easy to get around this. Stop stitching. Reposition the ruler on your work. Then start stitching again. The ruler will guide you so even if you can’t see, trust you positioned the ruler correctly and quilt on.

I may also pivot my work ever so slightly so I can see behind the needle.

Stitching backward using the ruler as a guide

Just for fun and because I love this spiral design, I stitched this with the straight edge ruler.

I didn’t pivot the fabric square as I moved the fabric forwards, backward and sideways to create the lines of stitching. I used the lines on the straight edge ruler to get the offset lines.

This is a good example of why we need to make a sample stitch out before we get to our quilt. As I started, I wasn’t sure which line on the ruler I was going to use and I had to rethink how the spiral was stitched. Hence, the lines at the beginning were a bit wonky, but once I got my rhythm, I was good.

A quilted spiral created using the straight edge ruler

TIP 5 – Use sticky grip on the templates

Make sure to put the sticky grips on your templates and rulers. In some cases, you only need to put it on one side, but if you have to flip the template, then it should have a sticky grip on both sides.  This is crucial to the success of using rulers and templates.

Three pieces of the sticky grip have been added to the template

The Spin-E-Fex 10 – 2½” template

This template can be used as a single petal or oval shape, but it comes to life when you rotate the template. Start by marking registration lines on your quilt block using the Crosshair Ruler and a water-soluble marking device or a Clover Chaco Liner for darker fabrics.

My rule of thumb is if you can’t see the lines from either of those marking devices, then the fabric is too busy to warrant putting a fancy quilting design on it.

Registration lines have been marked with a water-soluble pen

I did not pivot my fabric square as I stitched out the design. I rotated the template instead. Use the guidelines on the template and line them up with the registration marks on the quilt block.

Start at the bottom of the template (the center of your design) and stitch completely around. Do not cut the thread. Rotate the template to the next registration line and stitch again.

Remember this is free-motion quilting. Hold the template on the surface of the quilt block and move the template and the quilt block at the same time. That’s why the sticky grip is very important. You don’t want the template to move around on the quilt block.

The guidelines on the template are positioned so the next motif can be stitched

You can see I’ve stitched several of the motifs and I’m rotating the template, not the fabric square. What if the square was in the middle of a king-sized quilt? You would not be rotating it so make sure to practice as if you’re in the middle of a large quilt.

It’s very important to keep a certain pressure on the template so it stays tight against the ruler foot. This is very easy to do, but it may require a wee bit of practice.

Make sure there’s no drag on your quilt around the Designer EPIC 2. If I’m working on a large project, I like to position the quilt tight up against the sewing machine and leave only the quilt block I’m quilting flat on the bed of the sewing machine. Then when I move the quilt around, there is no drag.

The template is now moved to a position on the left of the needle

Here’s my completed quilt design. That took no time at all. The petals are evenly spaced out and it looks awesome.

I would not likely use that high of contrasting thread on an actual project, but if I did, the design looks great.

Best of all? It was easy!

The other thing to consider – I could have made a design with only four motifs or only two motifs or I could have added more registration lines and made it more complex. I have total freedom to do what I want for the block I place the design in.

Completed quilt design using the Spin-E-Fex 10 template

The Continuous Figure 8 – 2½” template

The next template I’m playing with is the Continuous Figure 8. This template creates a design that measures 2½” so it would be great for borders or sashing.

It’s a bit different than the previous template as you stitch along one side of the template and then slide it to the left or right and stitch up the other side. Repeat the process for the length of your line of stitching.

To make life easier for myself when stitching, I drew several registration lines on the fabric. If I were stitching this design in a sashing, then I would use the seam lines as my guide.

Stitching along one side of the Continuous Figure 8 template

The template could be used for background fill as well. Or for a wider border. It’s fast and easy to use. Make sure you create some registration lines, especially for a background fill so your lines don’t go wonky.

The Continuous Figure 8 template used to create a background fill

The Heart Template

The heart template involves a third technique of flipping the template. I’ve used the Crosshair Ruler to mark some registration lines on my quilt block.

Starting in the center (the bottom of the heart), I stitch up the side of the heart and stop at the top of the heart.

Although this may sound complicated about where to stop and start, there are indentations on the templates which create nesting spots at the beginning and end of the lines of stitching. It’s pretty difficult to mess up.

Again, there are registration lines on the template I match up with the registration lines on my quilt block.

One side of the first heart has been stitched

Then I flip the template over which is why this template needs the sticky grip on both sides.

Those resting spots are symmetrical so when I flip the template over and line up the registration marks, it’s easy to get the design exactly lined up.

The heart template has been flipped to stitch the opposite side of the heart

I’ve now completed hearts on four of the registration marks to get a very simple design.

I could stop here if I wanted.

Four heart motifs have been stitched on the quilt block

If I want a  more complex design, I can use the second set of registration marks and stitch another set of four hearts.

The second set of four heart motifs have been stitched on the quilt block

Adding more registration marks allows me to get a very complex quilting pattern.

It’s that easy – go simple or go complex!

Four sets of heart motifs were stitched to get this complex quilt design

This Ruler Foot Template collection by Inspira is an excellent one. It provides three different types of template techniques to use with the ruler foot. You may prefer one technique over another. All are very easy to use, but I would definitely recommend some practicing before you stitch these designs onto your quilt.

Don’t forget with the variable speed control (five distinct settings on the Designer EPIC 2), the large work surface, a ruler foot that fits perfectly every time and specific machine settings for this foot, ruler work is so easy on the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC 2.

Have a great day!


This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Quilting using decorative stitches in embroidery mode – Designer EPIC 2

Go to part 4: 7 tips for successful quilting in the embroidery hoop

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Jennifer Smith November 16, 2020 - 7:13 pm
I have a set of Angela Walters quilting rulers and have been looking at purchasing an Epic 2. Can these rulers be used with Viking designer models (they state they are low shank)? Thanks!
Carol Matlin August 13, 2020 - 11:44 am
Can you do ruler quilting on the Pfaff Performance Icon when it has the Pfaff extension table attached to it? Or is the table too curved to allow for this?
Martha Bunch July 11, 2020 - 12:19 pm
I’m trying to use a simple brother domestic machine, but even with feed dogs down it’s too tight the fabric won’t budge. Am I doing something wrong or is it that the ruler won’t work on a domestic machine? Supposedly it’s a machine fir sewing and quilting. HC1850. Help please, I was so excited about using these templates
Elaine Theriault July 11, 2020 - 1:18 pm
Martha --- I would bet that the ruler foot that you're using hasn't been adjusted to the correct height. THere should be instructions with your ruler foot to help you adjust the height. The one that I talked about for Husqvarna Viking doesn't need to be adjusted so that's one of the big advantages of using the brand specific foot over the generic foot. Hope that helps. Elaine
Sharon Thompson May 29, 2020 - 5:10 pm
Where do you get the sticky grip mentioned in your article?
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