Ruler work: The STRAIGHT talk on quilting STRAIGHT lines

Wasn’t yesterday exciting? I haven’t been this excited about free motion quilting in a long time. The accuracy and the stitch quality achieved on the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160 were amazing.

The Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160

Today, we’re playing with the Ruler Foot, and I have a couple of other tips for you as well. I’ll continue with the same wall quilt I worked on yesterday. The seams around the spools are perfect for ruler work.

The first thing we have to do is change the foot. There are several sets of optional accessory feet, and we’ll explore more of them tomorrow.

Optional accessory feet

The Ruler Foot is a very substantial metal foot. The distance from the needle to any point outside the circle is a perfect ¼”, making it great for precision work. The shank on the back is high to allow the ruler to fit underneath. The outside is perfectly smooth, allowing the ruler to move around on all sides of the foot.

The Ruler Foot

To change the needle, you need a hex tool included in the supply kit with the PLATINUM™ Q160. While the standard foot with the machine looks like a Ruler Foot, the sides are not as high, and the ruler could slip and make contact with the needle, which would not be a good thing. Use the proper tool to get the job done right!

Using a hex tool to change the foot

When you loosen the screw that holds the foot in place (no need to remove it), the foot may drop to the throat plate, but it won’t come off. I have the Ruler Foot in this photo as I got ahead of myself when taking the photos.

The foot sits on the throat plate, but it won’t release.

To release the foot, lift the Feet Mount to gain a bit more height, and the foot comes off.

Lift the Feet Mount to release the presser foot.

Another excellent characteristic of the Ruler Foot is the indentations on two sides, which allow you to see right into the center of the foot by the needle for 100% accuracy.

Two indentations provide a clear view into the center of the foot.

Make sure you’re using the proper ruler thickness, which is ¼”, and made especially for industrial-style quilting machines; not the ⅛” you use on the domestic sewing machine. That, in conjunction with the Ruler Foot, ensures the ruler doesn’t slip and hit the needle. I highly recommend putting some grips on the back of your ruler to help stabilize it.

There are many brands, so check them out before buying. As I mentioned before, check with your friends to see which rulers they use. While there are all kinds of rulers with decorative edges, my preferred ruler is a straight edge that’s 12” long. It has markings in ½” increments along both long edges and lines parallel to the long edge in ¼” increments.

Use the correct ruler thickness with your Ruler Foot.

As with any other type of quilting, you want to pull up your bobbin thread, and it’s best to keep those threads under the foot.

Pulling up the bobbin thread

The beauty of ruler work (a type of free motion quilting) is that you can easily change the direction of stitching by rotating the ruler without having to rotate the project, which is a hassle with a domestic sewing machine. However, with the 16” throat space, it was easy to rotate my small project, so I mostly stitched towards myself. However, I wouldn’t do that with a larger project.

Using the ruler to stitch in the ditch

Remember, the outside of the Ruler Foot is ¼” from the needle, so position the ruler ¼” from the edge or line where you want to quilt. Initially, it may seem odd, but you’ll quickly get used to it.

Position the ruler ¼” away from where you want to quilt.

To stitch an angle without rotating the project, rotate the ruler. Ruler work is free motion quilting, so you can go in any direction, which is a huge time saver on a larger quilt.

Using the ruler to stitch on an angle

Because of the indentations in the foot, it’s easy to get precision on the corners.

Use the foot and the ruler to get precision at corners

And if you wish, you can even stitch backward.

Stitching backward with the Ruler Foot

I stitched around all the spools and in the ditch around the two borders. It didn’t take long before it was complete, and it was so accurate!

So, I grabbed another project to quilt using the Ruler Foot.

A table runner basted and ready to quilt

Technically, I could’ve quilted this with a walking foot on my domestic sewing machine as it’s not very big. However, the exercise was to learn the PLATINUM™ Q160, and as I mentioned yesterday, it’s easier to learn to quilt on small projects. Once I’m comfortable with the process, it’ll be easy to proceed to the larger projects.

I wanted to quilt the table runner on the diagonal through the black squares and continue the stitching into the black border. If I had done this on the domestic sewing machine, I would’ve marked the lines in the border. Because I used the ruler, the ruler was my marking tool.

No need to mark the borders as the ruler provides the guide.

As I quilted right to the edge of the project, I started and stopped in the excess batting, so there’s no need to worry about securing the thread ends, as they’ll get caught in the binding.

Starting the lines of stitching in the excess batting and backing

I even let a few ugly thread nests occur so you can see how awful they are. They look very messy and take some time to clean up if this were the good part of your project, but it’s OK here because it’s on the excess backing to be trimmed off.

A thread nest caused by not controlling the top and bobbin thread

Don’t forget to position the ruler ¼” away from where you want the stitching line to occur. I’m right-handed, so I keep the ruler mostly to my left, but it can be in any orientation that works for you.

Using the ruler to get straight lines through the diagonal corners of the squares

As you can imagine, even though I had excess backing, the project no longer covered the sensors for Stitch Regulation once I reached the corners.

The Stitch Regulation sensor is exposed, which is not good.

Trust me, if the quilt didn’t cover the sensors, the stitch consistency was not good. How to fix it? You could have even more backing, but that’s not always practical. I realized that if I took a small piece of muslin and placed it near the edge of my fabric as I approached the sensors, the sensor would continue to register.

I placed the small piece of muslin on my table runner so it moved at the same speed as the table runner and kept the stitches consistent. Problem solved!!!

Using a small piece of extra fabric to keep the Stitch Regulation sensor covered

Another feature I love about the ruler is the 45-degree line at the two ends. The line comes in handy as I near the edge of the table runner to ensure my starts and stops are lining up properly.

The 45-degree line is a good reference for diagonal lines of stitching.

Here’s another tip for straight line quilting, whether with ruler work or a walking foot on the domestic sewing machine. I do one straight line in one direction near the middle of the project, and then I do a second straight line in the opposite direction. This process helps to secure the quilt in quarters and prevents the top and backing from becoming skewed during the quilting process.

Then as you quilt subsequent lines, in the same direction as the first line you made, ensure there are no tucks on the back as you cross the second line of stitching. If there is, remove them and redo that section. I check the back frequently to ensure there are no issues. No one wants to rip!

Ensure there are no tucks in the back as your straight lines of quilting cross each other.

And how does the tension look on the back? I used a gold thread in the bobbin and black thread on the top. Yep – I like to test the tension to the max, and it looks pretty darn good. No major tension adjustments were necessary. Notice how the backing is nice and flat, with no ripples or tucks between the lines of stitching.

The tension on the back of the project is perfect.

Wow! Quilting the table runner didn’t take very long at all, and it was so easy with so much room in the throat space. The ruler didn’t tip as the entire surface was large and flat. Free motion quilting is no longer a four-letter word when you have the right tools!

Well, that wraps up another day with the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160. It was so much fun, and tomorrow is the last day where I’ll talk about more of the optional accessory feet and something very unique that I never thought about until I read the instructions on one of the feet. So be sure to come back!

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: How to make free motion quilting a smooth operation [Tips and Tools]

Go to part 5: 3 Husqvarna Viking accessory feet to make free motion quilting FUN and EASY

Related posts

3 Husqvarna Viking accessory feet to make free motion quilting FUN and EASY

How to make free motion quilting a smooth operation [Tips and Tools]

Exploring the features and benefits of the Husqvarna Viking PLATINUM™ Q160