Monthly Archives: April 2015

Curved Free Motion Quilting Ruler Work Border

YAY!!  I finished the baby quilt for my hair stylist… I can get my hair done ! All in all I am pretty happy with my little quilt… but the one thing that I really love is the curved free motion quilting ruler work border design.

picture of finished baby quilt showing free motion quilting ruler work
Finished Baby quilt- just need to bind!

I saw this design for the first time at a quilt show. I am always toting my camera so that I have a visual reminder of designs/ motifs that I like. Then on one of those menopausal sleepless nights when I was up haunting the quilting blogs that I follow,  I came across a tutorial by Kathy at Tamarack Shack for a curved echo border using rulers. I really loved the movement in the design, but for some reason I had the hardest time drawing it out on paper.

Really ??!! – you’re going to look at it and think “what was so hard about that”???  But I read and reread the instructions and it took quite a bit of doodling around to get the mechanics of how this design flowed (maybe it was the 2am variable that was making  this a “does not compute” moment 🙂 ). Once I had my  aha-ha moment the design couldn’t be easier. I was going to use still pictures for this, but realized a video would be more to the point . I hope it helps get you started- if you have any questions at all, give me a holler !

baby quilt showing curved triangle marking for free motion ruler work
quilt showing curved triangle markings


This curved free motion quilting ruler work border is simple to do, and looks so professional. If I can do it you can too!  I hope you give it a try!

Happy Quilting,


Free Motion Quilting Using Magnetic Bobbins

This week I learned a lot about free motion quilting using magnetic bobbins on my  George (a sit-down longarm) from APQS’ Dawn Cavanaugh. Dawn is the National Director of Education for APQS, and boy did I learn a lot!
Let me start at the beginning of my story….My hair stylist  had her first baby this past Friday. I have known that  she is having a baby for the past 8 months…..but did I start a quilt before a week or so ago?   (in fairness I did think about it a lot…and I didn’t know it was going to be a boy until 3 or 4 months ago…). Anyway I am now under the gun to finish this baby quilt! I decided to use some Floriani 40 wt polyester on top, because it was what I had on hand that blended best . In the bobbin I  used a Filtec’s Magna-Glide  Delight, mainly because the color was close to the top thread, and more importantly, I just bought a boat load of Delights  and need to start using it up.  I cleaned/oiled my machine before starting, put in a new needle, did the tension test for the bobbin in the palm of my hand ( I use Jamie Wallen’s  method),and found it very difficult to adjust my bobbin ( which  surprised me as I have used the Magna- glides for years in my embroidery machine).  I kept loosening and loosening the bobbin tension .Finally, with some tweaking on the top tension, my sample stitched out  well.  I started quilting happily away- but as time went on my tension became variable in the bobbin. I knew I couldn’t loosen the bobbin tension anymore as I could see the little finger raising way too high on my bobbin casing . After ripping a good amount of quilting out due to rail-roading on the back, I decided to call APQS for help. I have to say, this is where customer support  on your machines makes ALL the difference !  Dawn  was the person addressing questions on the day I called. She educated me to the ins and outs of using the magnetic bobbins by taking me on a trip down memory lane to high school science class . Remember how we would magnetize non-magnetized metal by rubbing a strong magnet on it? Well a couple things could be at play when using these magnetic bobbins. First when you buy them they come all loaded into a little jar or a box.

a picture of magna-glide classics magnetic bobbins  in a box used for free motion quilting
A box of Magna-Glide Classics

When one magnet rubs against another sometimes one magnet will lose some of its magnetic charge and another will become kind of super- charged, resulting in a varying  amount of drag in your bobbin- requiring you to re-check your bobbin tension at every bobbin change. Second, over time if you use a lot of magnetic bobbins, the bobbin casing itself can become magnetized. Dawn passed on a very cleaver remedy for this. At your local hardware store (not Walmart) pick up a magnetizer/demagnetizer.

a picture of a tool that will magnetize as well as demagnetize metal objects
A nifty little gizmo that will magnetize as well as demagnetize

Just rub your metal bobbin against the outside to take the magnetic charge away (these are really cheap- $2.99 at my local store).  Lastly she gave me a few alternative threading tips that may apply to other machine brands as well, if your machine threads similarly . Right before my thread passes into the tension disc, the George has a 3 hole thread guide that I have always threaded in a winding fashion.

a picture of the APQS George's last tension guide before the tension disc threaded in a wrapped fashion
Threading machine in a “wrapped” technique in last thread guide before tension disc as discribed in owners manual

Dawn told me to “weave” the thread in and out of the holes instead.

Picture of last thread guide with thread woven threw holes instead of wrapped
Thread path now “weaves” instead of wraps. The last hole to your left is the only “manditory” hole

The weaving puts more tension on the top to balance the bobbin thread when you feel you can’t loosen the bobbin anymore and tightening your upper tension results in thread breakage. The weaving also helps decrease thread breakage by taking some of the twist off the upper thread. Her last pearl was for me to know that out of the 3 holes in the thread guide above the tension knob the only one I had to use  was the hole closest to the tension disc and to play around with that as a tension adjustment option with difficult threads.

All In all, I like the Magna-Glide bobbins. What I am not as fond of is the 40 wt Delights.  It lays on the back of the quilt more than the magna-glide classics  60wt – giving a more thready appearance. ( a friend warned me of this  after I bought my boat load 🙁 ). It’s all a personal preference. What do you like in your bobbins?? Magna- Glides? Prewounds? Self wound bobbins? Tell us what you use and why you like it!

Many thanks to Dawn for going above and beyond in providing more answers then I knew I  had questions for!

Hope your week is tension Free,

PS for those who haven’t seen Jamie Wallen’s video on Bobbin tension click here .

Free Motion Quilting Ruler Work Border

Sorry for being so quite this past week….sometimes life just gets in the way… I have been trying to catch up on some projects that have been screaming at me for attention. Oh well, onto some free motion quilting R and R!

Picture of a brightly colored quilt
serger pieced disappearing nine patch quilt

I thought I would post my first video of free motion ruler work with an eclipse ruler/template. I took the disappearing nine patch quilt from a couple weeks back (free form free motion feathers ) and decided to use the eclipse template from Accents in Design in the border.

I really loved the way the ruler work made the eclipse/arches look so smooth and perfect. I tried to trace the template and see if I could duplicate the results – No Way!! The rulers required a bit of practice, but soon I was doing smooth, even arches that my free motion efforts were not matching

.a picture of me working with the ruler at a 90 degree angle, changing my hand position after passing the half-way point to maintain pressure/control on the ruler during free motion quilting ruler work

My first learning curve was to keep the ruler at a 45-90 degree angle otherwise I was wrestling with the backside of my ruler foot 50% of the time. I also marked my quilt were I expected my line of stitching to end so I could plan how the border would “march out” in between corners, enabling me to add that all important fudge factor into the border 🙂 .

a picture of a quilt sandwich with markings showing where your stitch pattern should start and stop with free motion quilting ruler work
marking 1/4 beyond the template edge- or where you need the stitch line from your template to start and end gives you a visual to shoot for.
a close up picture of a double eclipse border stitches out on a quilt
double eclipse border

I really like the way the border turned out on this little quilt. I hope you will give this simple design a try. It was a great way to dress up a border using free motion quilting ruler work.
Happy Quilting!

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