Designer Ruby deLuxe – NOT your grandmother’s sewing machine

It’s so exciting to be back and I’ve got another great week of super sewing tips and ideas to share with you.

I’ll be using the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby deLuxe this week. Just a quick note, the most recent model of the Ruby family is the Designer Ruby Royale which has a few additional features.

I’ve been using the Designer Ruby deLuxe for about five years (it’s probably longer than that). Not only is it a sewing machine, but it’s an embroidery machine as well. Do I love it? It’s never let me down and while I don’t do a lot of machine embroidery, I’d be lost without the ability to do embroidery.

You can read my sewing machine review of the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale, it’s a 5 day blog posts with lots of great stuff!

Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby deLuxe with optional extension table

This sewing machine resides in a small portable table with a cutout to give me a larger surface. I don’t need the extension table or the accessory box. However when I went to find the accessory box to take a picture, it was not to be found. What does that tell me? I’ve put it in a safe place which I haven’t found yet. But the picture above shows you how much of an added advantage the extension table is whether you’re piecing, quilting or doing applique. If I didn’t have a set-in table, I’d always have the extension table attached.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale with embroidery unit

I’ve had a feature-rich sewing machine for the past 20 years. I decided that if I was going to get serious about quilting/sewing that I needed to get a serious sewing machine with some helpful features. It’s not that I take these features for granted, but I’ve become so used to them that they’re second nature to me. These features have definitely made my sewing life a whole lot easier. I certainly notice this when I teach a class of beginners with less feature-rich sewing machines. It’s a bit of an oxymoron actually – they’re struggling with things that would be so much easier on a different sewing machine, however, they haven’t made the commitment (yet) to want to upgrade their sewing machine.

The other day I was teaching a class and one of the students was working on her project and the bobbin ran out. She hadn’t noticed it immediately and lamented “wouldn’t it be nice to have a sewing machine that told you when the bobbin ran out?”

Matter of fact that feature exists! I provided a quick rundown of some of the features that are available on sewing machines today. As a result, I thought I would share some of what I think are the more helpful features built into the Designer Ruby deLuxe.

Are these features necessary to make a quilt or a garment? Are these features necessary to do a good job on your project? The answer to both is NO. However, I must say that these features will certainly make life a whole lot easier for you. Some of them help to control the sewing machine functions, some of them provide a helping hand to you the sewist, while others are time savers.

Let’s dive right in and I’ll show you some of my favorite features.

The Function Panel

Many of the features and functions that I’m talking about are easy to access right on the Function Panel which is situated right above the needle. Lights will indicate whether that particular feature is activated (if necessary).

The Function Panel on the Designer Ruby deLuxe

Needle Stop Up/Down

This is one of my favorite features. When I bought my first sewing machine with this feature, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It’s like having a third hand to help you.

Essentially, when I stop sewing and this feature is engaged, the needle will stop in the fabric and prevent the project from moving. The the presser foot raises ever so slightly when you stop with the needle down and that’s definitely like having a third hand. If you want to pivot your work, insert the next pieces of fabric to sew, or whatever, it’s a MUST HAVE feature.

In the photo below, I’m sewing binding onto a quilt. If I need to stop to position the binding, the needle holds everything from slipping away from under the presser foot which could cause a large and rather ugly stitch.

The needle down feature keeps things in place while sewing on a binding

Here I’m sewing the binding to the front of the quilt and the needle down again is preventing the quilt and binding from moving away from the needle (if I need to stop to position the binding) and creating a large stitch. If I need to temporarily leave the work for whatever reason, I make sure the needle is in my work so there’s no danger of the fabrics shifting under the needle.

The needle is in the down position when I stop to reposition the binding, preventing a large stitch caused by movement of the project

Having the Needle Stop Up/Down and Pivot features are essential at the corner when sewing on a binding. I’ll use my quilter’s awl to help hold the binding in place. Using the sewing machine features to assist in keeping the project where I want it to be, helps to ensure that I’m getting a nice clean corner.

If I had to lift the presser foot manually and ensure the project (with all those extra layers) didn’t move at the corner, it’s much harder to deal with. It’s super easy to turn the corner on the binding with these features.

Using a quilter’s awl and the Needle Stop Up/Down and Pivot features to turn the corner on a machine sewn binding

Using the Needle Stop Up/Down and the Pivot feature when I’m piecing is fabulous. As I’m repositioning the flange and border in the sample below, the needle is holding everything in place to prevent that flange from shifting. If I’m chain piecing, the slight rise in the presser foot (when I stop with the needle down) makes it a breeze to slip the next set of fabrics right up to the needle and prevents any shifting for more accurate seams.

Notice that I’ve used several different feet in these last pictures. It doesn’t matter what type of seam you’re sewing, the Needle Stop Up/Down and the Pivot work for all types of seams.

The Needle Stop Up/Down feature is very handy when piecing

Let’s not forget how handy this feature is when quilting. When I was ready to turn the corner when doing some stitch in the ditch quilting, I let the Designer Ruby deLuxe do the work of raising the foot. I simply pivoted the work to get the project lined up for the next line of stitching. No large stitches and as you’ll see later this week, those corners are perfectly formed thanks to this feature.

This feature is essential to free-motion quilting. If you have the needle stop in the down position, you can take your hands off your project and the work won’t shift. This is critical if you’re working on a big quilt in a tight space. Just make sure you have your hands securely back on the quilt before you start to quilt.

Using the Needle Stop Up/Down feature when quilting makes it easy to get perfect corners for stitch in the ditch quilting

For my students who are gasping with horror that I’m pivoting my work when I tell them not to, this piece I was quilting is small enough to pivot without any pushing and shoving (thanks to a nice large opening between the needle and the side of the sewing machine and the smaller sized wall hanging).

If this were a large quilt, I would NOT be pivoting. This is also the border of the wallhanging so there wasn’t really much to the right of the needle that could cause pushing and shoving issues that you would experience on a large quilt.

Yes, I realize that you could manually lower the needle on any machine and yes you could manually raise (and lower) the presser foot when it’s necessary. Or you may have a knee lift that you could use.

What I like about the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby deLuxe – these features are TOTALLY AUTOMATIC. Once the Needle Stop Up/Down function is set – the sewing machine does all the work for you leaving your hands completely free to guide your work. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Sensor Foot Down and Pivot/Sensor Foot Up and Extra Lift

I’ve mentioned the Pivot function above as it works in conjunction with the Needle Stop Up/Down, but here’s a couple of other points that I didn’t mention.

This took me a bit of time to get used to, but once I got the hang of it, I was hooked. There’s NO presser foot lever on the Designer Ruby deLuxe.

There’s no presser foot lever

You can see on the back of the of the sewing machine where you would normally find the presser foot lever, that there isn’t one. Raising and lowering the foot is done using two function buttons (Sensor Foot Down and Pivot/Sensor Foot Up and Extra Lift) on the Function Panel.

I love the Extra Lift function. If you need a wee bit more room to slide your project under the presser foot, touching the button will raise the foot that extra amount needed. For instance, if you’re turning the corner when applying a binding. There’s a lot of thicknesses at the corner and you’ll find yourself jamming the mess under the presser foot. It’s a simple matter to raise the foot to the highest point which makes it super easy to slip the project under the presser foot.

This feature was also very helpful when I using a thick clothesline cord to make a fabric bowl the other day. Starting the coil for the center of the bowl is a bit messy and by using the Extra Lift, it gave me the space needed (without using my hands to raise and lower the presser foot) to get the center started. The list of places where these functions are amazing just goes on and on.

The Extra Lift allows the corner of the binding to easily slide under the presser foot

Here’s another instance where the Extra Lift makes things much handier. I’m quilting along the edge of a quilt and the edge wants to flip back onto itself. I press the button to get the extra lift and now it’s easy to move the fabric back in place. Once the fabric is repositioned, I don’t have to manually lower the presser foot. It’s all automatic so I can focus on my project, not the functioning of the sewing machine. I LOVE that.

The extra lift feature comes in handy to lift the presser foot to allow the edge of the quilt to be repositioned

Lifting the presser foot allowed the fabric to be easily put back into place.

Advancing a half stitch at a time

Let’s say that I’m doing some applique or I’m quilting and I want the needle to end up in a very specific position. It’s difficult to know the exact moment to stop stitching and there are times when the needle is on the left (when doing a zigzag) when I want it to be on the right and vice versa. Or I may stop stitching one stitch before I need to pivot. How do I advance the sewing machine to get the needle exactly where I want it to be?

A quick tap on the foot pedal (which is large and hard to miss), will advance the stitch by half. If the needle is down and to the left, the tap will bring the needle up and to the right (when doing a zigzag). Another tap will bring the needle down (in the rightmost position). It’s super easy to advance that half stitch that you need, especially when doing applique or quilting.

I’m not required to take my hands off the project, I don’t need to move my knee. A simple tap (or two) will position the needle exactly where I want it to go.

A brilliant feature and I often forget to mention this as it’s so automatic for me to use this feature.

Foot pedal

There’s NO need to touch that handwheel on the side of the sewing machine! NONE!

It’s NOT necessary to touch the handwheel to move the needle

The Needle Threader

I was a big user of the needle threader when I got access to one on that first sewing machine that I bought years ago. I used the darn thing so much that I wore it out! So I got used to threading the needle by eye.

When I got my hands on the Designer Ruby deLuxe, I was reluctant to use the needle threader. I could thread the needle as quick with my eye. Then I did a lot of machine embroidery and I needed to change thread colors often. I finally broke down and learned how to use the needle threader. It’s super easy and now I use it all the time. It works on pretty much any kind of thread, including invisible thread. Just remember that the needle threader will not work with the Size 8 (very small) needles as the eye of the needle is too small to allow the hook to enter and grab the thread.

As we age, this feature becomes very important.

Using the Needle Thread is easy

Speed Control

There are five different speed settings on the Designer Ruby deLuxe. Why would you need five speeds? If you’re doing decorative stitching and you want to use the START/STOP function instead of using the foot pedal, you’ll probably want to reduce the speed as this machine is made to go fast. I find that I’m not in control when the machine is stitching decorative stitches at top speed, so I’ll reduce the speed to about halfway.

The same for free motion quilting. If you can reduce the speed to something that you’re comfortable with, then you know that every time you floor the foot pedal that the sewing machine will go at the same, constant speed which will help you with your free motion. A very good feature to have.

Can you control the speed manually? Yes, you can, but it’s a lot more work, more tiring on your body and hard to maintain a steady speed. Learn to use the built-in features of the sewing machine to help you work better, faster and smarter.

Pop up menu shows five different speed settings

Separate Bobbin Winder

There’s a separate speed control for the bobbin winder. If you’re winding a specialty thread like an invisible thread, you do NOT want to wind that at full speed. Winding invisible thread at high speed is asking for trouble. The bobbins have been known to compress so much that they can’t be removed from the bobbin winder or the bobbin will crack and break from the pressure.

Separate controls and speed levels for winding the bobbin

Low bobbin thread indicator

When your bobbin gets to a certain level, you’ll receive a pop-up message letting you know that the bobbin is low. When you get this message, you know that you still have bobbin thread, but it’ll run out shortly. It’s now up to you to watch and stop sewing when the bobbin does in fact run out.

A note – DON’T close that window. If you do, you’ll receive another pop-up message very quickly to tell you the bobbin is low. Just leave the window open.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to hear when the bobbin runs out. The sound of your machine sewing will change and sometimes you can hear the bobbin rattling in the bobbin case.

It’s amazing how many people do not listen to their sewing machines when they are sewing. Next thing, they’ve sewn yards without realizing that the bobbin has run out.

Pop up message indicating that the bobbin is almost empty

Interactive Touch Screen

There’s so much information on the Interactive Touch Screen, yet it’s all very nicely organized and easy to read.

It’s easy to scroll through the stitch menus to find an appropriate stitch and once you’ve selected a stitch, you can see the stitch number in the top left corner. The recommended presser foot appears on the screen, as well a diagram of the actual stitch.

Changing the width or length of the stitch is easy with the appropriate touch buttons. Other functions on the screen will indicate the tension, mirroring stitches, moving into free motion mode and a whole lot more.

Although the screen looks intimidating, it’s not! It’s very easy to read and doesn’t take that long to figure out what does what. That’s where sitting down with the manual and doing a little bit of experimenting will make you a whole lot more comfortable with the sewing machine and all of its features.

Interactive Touch Screen

Sewing Advisor

At the bottom of the Interactive Touch Screen is the Sewing Advisor. By indicating to the Designer Ruby deLuxe what type of fabric you’re using and what kind of technique you want to perform (simply by selecting the appropriate buttons), the sewing machine will set the tension, tell you what is the best presser foot and also the best stitch to use and will provide the optimal settings for that stitch. All those items can be over-ridden if you feel that you don’t like the settings.

That’s like having the Home Economics teacher sitting at your side. A very useful tool if you’re relatively new to sewing or you’re doing a new technique. I use this a lot if I’m changing the type of fabric I’m using.

In the few points mentioned above, you can see just how easy it is to use the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby deLuxe sewing machine. While all those tasks could be performed manually, having the sewing machine take care of them means that you can focus on creating a better project.

If you’re in the market for an amazing sewing machine that also does embroidery, I’d seriously check out the Designer Ruby Royale. It’s got everything you need to make great projects and it’s so easy to use.

I love experimenting and tomorrow, I’ll show you some experiments with quilt binding that I think you’ll find very interesting. Later this week, I’ll be checking out the quilting abilities of the Designer Ruby deLuxe. Be sure to come back and check that out.

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 3 tattle tale experiments on binding a quilt

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