Tips and Tutorials Tuesday – Quilting Circles with a Ruler

March 15, 2016

Hello and welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday!  The link for tutorials for the week is at the bottom of the page.

I’ve been working hard to prepare new classes I’ll be teaching around the country on behalf of Handi Quilter this year.  I’ll be traveling to the northeast this week to teach four longarming classes at a quilt shop, and I’m so excited about it! I’ll be teaching a How Do I Quilt It class , a Sit-Down Longarming Bootcamp, a Stand-Up Longarming Bootcamp and a Rulers for the Longarm class.

(In total, there are about 15 longarming classes I’ll be teaching this year, so I’ve been  busily preparing as much as possible this past month).

In the meantime, I’ve been slowly working on quilting a top of my own, that I pieced from a book called Cut and Shuffle Quilts (*not an affiliate link)  by Jan Ochterbeck.  The book demonstrates how to make one simple block, called the Block Mama, and then to cut it up and re-piece it in different ways to achieve different looks.  I hope to finish the quilt tonight so I can show you all the pictures later this week.  But here’s a sneak peak of a little of my quilting on the negative space. I call it Row by Row Quilting.  I love it as a modern approach to quilting because it involves no planning, and you can free-wheel it and decide what you’re in the mood to quilt for each row.

Row by Row Quilting

I used free motion quilting and ruler work.  The rows of circles you see below appear on the quilt every 5 inches or so.  Several people wrote to me on Instagram and asked me how I quilt my circles.

To quilt most of the circles on this quilt, I used the Hand Quilter Mini Circle Ruler (*not an affiliate link).

Mini Circle RulerYou can use this ruler on a sit-down or a stand-up longarm, or on a domestic machine if you have a free-motion foot with 360 degree clearance (Janome and Juki have ruler foot options for their domestics; check with your manufacturer or retailer to see if there is one for your machine). Quilting rulers are different than the rulers we use with our rotary cutters.

Rulers used in the quilting process must be 3/8″ thick to reduce the risk that your hopping foot will hop on top of the ruler. This is a bummer when it happens because you risk putting a ding in your ruler, or worse yet, throwing the timing of your longarm machine off.  But as Kimmy Brunner once told me, there are two kinds of people who use rulers on their longarm: those who have hit their ruler and those who will hit their ruler.  I think I’ve said it before, but quilting is not for wimps, right!?  We’re high-risk, adrenaline junkies, as a rule (ummm, well, maybe not all of us).

Here is a little video demonstrating how to use the Mini Circle Ruler on a sit-down longarm (I have the Sweet Sixteen by Handi Quilter). You can see in the video that the sit-down longarm functions kind of like free-motion quilting on your domestic.  You move the fabric, not the machine.  I am pressing straight down on the ruler against the table, and moving the ruler right along with the fabric.  I have a little grippy tape on the back of the ruler to keep it from sliding.

When using Rulers on your longarm always use a ruler base, which gives you a stable platform to rest your ruler.  You need to make sure you place pressure in three different ways:

  1. Press down onto the ruler, pressing it onto your ruler base (longarm) or table (domestic).
  2. Press the ruler up against the hopping foot (longarm and domestic).
  3. Press your hand that’s guiding the hopping foot toward the ruler.

Do you have a tip or tutorial this week?  Please link it up below!

Check back on Friday for a great giveaway celebrating Fat Quarter Shop as a sponsor on my blog!


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  • Reply Leslie March 15, 2016 at 6:02 am

    When I first saw this email I thought, “Now, how did Stephanie get such perfect circles.” Thanks for adding the video because a novice like me needs lots of pictures and videos to really understand a technique.

  • Reply cheryljbrickey March 15, 2016 at 7:32 am

    I was always wondering how this was done, thank for showing this!

  • Reply Jan O March 15, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Your quilting looks lovely – so precise! I can’t wait to see what you made from Cut and Shuffle Quilts. Thanks for the shout out!

  • Reply faithandfabric March 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Stephanie, if you’re ever in San Diego, sign me up for a long arm class! Wishing you the best as you travel and teach.

  • Reply Angie March 15, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I have a Sweet as well and am thinking those circles are pretty darn perfect! Must add to my shopping list! Lucky students who get to attend your classes…(can’t wait to see more pics; so beautiful!)

  • Reply lori landenburger March 25, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Hugs from one adrenaline junkie to another!! 🙂

  • Leave a Reply to lori landenburger Cancel reply