Tag Archives: free motion quilting ruler work

Review of New APQS Ruler Foot for Free Motion Quilting


I have been waiting with bated breath for months for APQS to come out with their new ruler foot for my George. Every time I sit at my machine I would think about how great it is going to be……Then finally it arrived!! This is my review of the new APQS ruler foot. I felt that it would be best shown by a video.

I think my best advise if you have a George is to pay the extra $$$ and get the ruler foot. I know a lot of us are smarting ( judging from past emails from some George owners) that we had already paid for the ruler foot accessory set a few years back. I agree that the old foot is a bad design. It has been a source of angst for me. When I purchased George that is the one thing I didn’t demo. I knew I wanted a ruler foot…..I had a ruler foot on my domestic sewing machine that I was happy with. I just assumed that the George’s ruler foot- with it’s 20” harp space would be awesome. The truth was the angle of the foot’s ankle made the clearance to the right of the foot difficult.

a picture comparing the old APQS ruler foot to the new one
To the left is the Old APQS ruler foot, to the right the new ruler foot. I think the improvement to clearance is pretty obvious

In fairness to APQS they did try to correct the situation as best as they could until a new foot was re-designed. APQS did replace a lot of ruler feet to George owners with feet that had a smaller soldering at the ankle join, hoping that would it increase clearance. It helped- but not quite enough to really be happy with it.
The cost for the new feet are :
$365.00 for the set of 3 feet (closed ruler foot, open toe ruler foot and a standard free motion ruler foot.) If you are buying a new George this is a no-brainer- get the kit.
Closed Ruler foot: $140.00
Saddle foot or open toe ruler foot $200.00
I purchased the set because I am an open-toe gal. I use the open toe ruler foot probably more than any other foot. It allows me to swing between free motioning to ruler work without changing my foot most of the  time.

Installation wise, I had to summon up a good dose of patience. 
I already had adjusted my hopping foot height higher with the old foot. My standard quilting situation consists of a Supreme Slider and wool batting combined with hobbs 80/20. I could hardly get the new foot on, the fit was so tight. So I got out my screwdriver and adjusted the new hopping foot higher. I also checked to see that my needle was centered in the middle of the foot. I think all the pressure we sit down quilters put against the foot, pushing that fabric around , going over thick seams etc. can eventually push the foot off-center.
Mine was off. I began to look around my sewing room for something to quickly measure the distance from the needle to the edge of the foot all the way around . I spied a tracing hopper sitting on my desk that I got from Lisa Calle.

a picture ofLisa Calle's Hoppers- used to simulate a hopping foot as you draw designs
Lisa Calle’s Hoppers- used to simulate a hopping foot as you draw designs

I used this as my template to measure my needle distance. This worked out okay, but I was talking to Brenda, one of my online buddies ,she said she just traced around the foot on a index card, drew 2 lines to mark center and checked needle placement with that. My drawn circles in my video may not be the prettiest but I find Brenda’s idea easier to see than the clear plastic template hoppers…she’s so smart 🙂 ). We may need to make that suggestion to APQS!
I know that not everyone will go through all these shenanigans of adjusting height, centering and finally tension from all your mucking around. Just allow enough time so you are not growing fangs trying to slap that puppy in quickly. Mine took me the better part of a day when it was all said and done( I know…..I’m special 🙂 )

a picture of tension issues after installing the new foot.
The back of my test stitch out. Look at all the back-lashing and tension problems

Lastly , I guess in my mind I envisioned this true 1/2” foot alleviating a good deal of the marking I do on a quilt- especially were rulers are concerned. After all this adjusting, measuring, re-checking, I have come to the conclusion for me, that I will continue to mark. I am not a professional quilter, so maybe I lack confidence or the skills yet. But I don’t trust the accuracy of the needle to the edge of the foot in all directions.
Some quilt designs do not build on  previous lines and using a template’s markings will suffice . But if the needle is off it may become obvious in things like grids. I think I’ll save myself some heart ache and un-sewing and just mark.
The good news is that the new 1/2” foot with great clearance should open up the world of channeled templates like The Line Tamer or Lisa Calle’s Quilter’s Groove templates.

Well I hope this helps if you are on the fence whether to invest (or as in some of our cases-re-invest ;0 ) in the new ruler foot. For me, the cost was a lot cheaper than a new machine with a ruler foot that I was satisfied with.

I am not sure if the issue of your needle migrating off center happens in other quilt machine brands or not. If you have taken the time to read my APQS ruler foot review and can shed light on other machines,  leave us a comment and let us know- it’s always interesting to compare notes.

Happy quilting my friends,

Beveled Edge Inside Circle Template

a picture of the beveled inside edge template

In the beginning of the summer I received a beveled inside circle template from Teryl Loy Enterprises. Teryl McKnight and her husband John are Innovis Longarm dealers out in Utah , run an on-line quilting supply store and manufacture longarm rulers/templates. What is unique about their templates? Well, first they manufacture rulers in 2 different thicknesses -the traditional 1/4” longarm ruler and a thicker 3/8” ruler. The second is that all her rulers/ templates have a beveled edge. 
Why does that matter??… In one word- clearance.

As quilters we are pretty good at avoiding the sides of our ruler foot that is difficult to get around. As sit-down quilters we are lucky that we can turn our quilt to get us out of those tight situations. But lets face it- if you have a larger quilt, you don’t what to be swinging that quilt back and forth every other pass of the ruler. This is where the bevel may be helpful. Of the 5 ruler feet that I tried this template with, the tightest was (no big surprise) the low- shank feet.
On a low-shank foot, I was  able to make circles without feeling like the fit behind the foot was too tight. When I was doing designs like the clam shells or cathedral windows with a low-shank foot and I had to reposition the template half way around the circle I could feel some tightness toward the back . Still do-able, I just needed to be aware of it so I lined up my ruler carefully. Performance  of this template with a low-shank foot will vary due to the different clearances in machines.
I think these circle templates are nice if you are using an APQS Longarm style foot (like my George) or high shank DSM. I loved how it floated all the way around my foot without having to reposition my hands. I never felt any tightness or awkward passes when playing with various designs on my George.
My only real criticism is that this template does not have a “key” for the slot that we use to slide it on and off my machine. As sit-down quilters we apply more pressure pushing the ruler against the foot. Most of the time- if I am paying attention- I can anticipate the opening and glide past….but sometimes I get a small hiccup :).

a picture ofmy hiccup to the bottom of my circle where my foot hit the channel
notice my hiccup to the bottom of my circle where my foot hit the channel

Circle templates are one of those things that most quilters end up needing at one point or another. They are handy for feather wreath spines, shield and buckle designs, orange peel or cathedral windows and  clam shells for a few quick examples of a template with multiple uses .
I think these beveled edge rulers may allow us sit-down quilters to do ruler work without having to turn/ reposition our quilts as much- which is a real plus in my book. I am eyeing a few other templates that I think may come in really handy……..
I hope you will visit Teryl’s website : www. terylloy.com. Be sure to check out her great video tutorials on using some of her templates!
Have a great week!

Winter Free Motion Fun

a picture of Bird Brain Designs Snow Happens wall hanging that I have free motion quilted on
Bird Brain Designs: Snow Happens
  • February is my favorite month in Florida. We are usually doing the 70/50 split in temperature that I just love, but even here it’s been a bit chilly. I know for a lot of you it’s still winter- so in light of that I’m still having some winter free motion quilting  fun and finishing my wallhanging Snow Happens by Bird Brain designs (either I’m timely or so far behind I’m out in front for next year ! lol).
    This is a hand embroidery design (they make them for both machine and hand embroiders) and has a lot of good memories associated with it. I worked on this on numerous airplane flights to places and experiences that will warm me for years to come. I don’t know about you guys, but when you are all done embroidering and piecing and you are sitting there looking at your quilt top, hatching your plan to free motion quilt,  it can be a little anxiety producing when you attach so many feelings to a quilt! But in the end, I put my big girl panties on and forged ahead.
    I did use my plexi glass sheet to audition my designs and of course there’s always doodling and warm up time on a quilt sandwich before starting on the real McCoy..… But the bottom line is nothing can replace just jumping in a doing it. Practice sandwiches are great, but you know they are practice and they just don’t present the obstacles that a real quilt will give you. Nothing replaces time and experience . There is several things I would do differently if I had a do-over (which just isn’t happening).
  • I decided to do some straight free motion ruler work in the foreground under my snow man to “ground” them. I think  free motion lines that were more free form like snow drifts would have been a better design decision.
  • On my on point pieced border, I did continuous line design work twice to the inside of each square and then traveled to the next square by the curved arch on the outside of each square creating a circle  around each little square.  The pieced squares make every wobble noticeable (on the outside curve).  I should have used this opportunity to use a curved ruler to stabilize the motif to get a smoother curve (sigh-I knew better- but my eyes couldn’t see ripping monopoly !).

snow happens photoed at an angle to show quilting

I know as quilters one of the most destructive things we do is to point out our mistakes. I am not devaluing my little quilt by pointing out every little wibble here or wobble there. I do believe we need to be at peace that this is the best effort I made on this day at this point in my quilty life. At the same time I have chosen to blog about this. I know I have learned so much when someone has been honest with me and shares what they learned along the way- worts and all 🙂 . Sometimes I have to make the mistakes for myself as growing pains  (or some times you just have a brain fart) , other times the sharing has saved me from making the same mistake too. It is in that light I share what I have learned from this little quilt. That is not to say I am not enjoying him hanging in my entrance foyer as I wait for spring!
I quilted Snow Happens using Superior Threads Monopoly clear monofilament thread.
Happy quilting!

Are You Modern or Traditional in Your Free Motion Quilting style?

Welcome to The Quilt Journal! Today I am hosting Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday.

My question to you today is : Are you modern or  traditional in your free motion quilting style?
My initial knee jerk reaction, being the feather girl that I am 🙂 , was that I am a traditional quilter..…but maybe not?!
Back in November I did a blog post that showed the first of two quilts that I made while taking the Judi Madsen online iQuilt Class Quilting Makes a Difference.

a picture ofMy traditional free motion quilting style quilt
My traditional free motion quilting style quilt

The class exercise was to piece two projects exactly the same, but free motion quilt each one in 2 different styles.  I am not going to define what exactly  modern quilting vs. a traditional free motion quilting style  is, as that is a subject that is way open to interpretation and somewhat subjective. But in general I think it is safe to say that some modern quilting involves more straight lines or geometry in the design (the modern example here had a lot more ruler work) and the quilting doesn’t necessarily  respect the  piecing in the same way that a traditionally quilted quilt does ( this is a way over simplified explanation- but the difference could be a post onto itself! )

a picture of myModern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen's class
Modern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen’s class

Initially, I felt the traditionally quilted one had more movement and just felt a bit more graceful to me. But now that I have finished the modern style of the two quilts (my first finish of 2016-woohoo!!)….I like that one too! I think it brings a lot of interest to a otherwise very simple quilt. In this case the quilting takes center stage. I think this was a wonderful exercise that pushed me to try something I may not have otherwise tried . Also because it was a planned, marked out quilt top, not a “practice sandwich”,  you are more likely finish it and really get a feel for the two free motion quilting styles.
I will say also, you do spent a lot more time marking your quilt in the modern version. Judi’s quilts reflect her perfectionism and attention to detail- she leaves nothing to chance. I found the massive marking a bit distracting at my stage of the game. I know Judi is awesome ,confident in her skill set and can see past the marking- me on the other hand, felt a little more comfortable spritzing a finished area with a little water so I could be sure I was happy with the effort I made FMQ.

you can see where I spritzed some areas with water to be able to see if I was okay my stitching
note the water marks where my blue marker bled a bit after spritzing with water to the right of the picture

It didn’t help that I ran out of the fine tipped blue marking pens and used one that is a little thicker…. Tip number #1-  if you run out of fine tipped blue water soluble pens…..just wait lol! There is a ton of quilting in this little quilt.  If you weren’t proficient in free motioning fairly even ribbon candy / back and forth line  and circles….you will be better at it by the time you finish (notice I didn’t say great…I said better 🙂 )! I think having a project that was more than a practice scrap pushed me to work the design and that plan from start to finish.

I thought if may be helpful to see the 2 quilt next to each other

Version 2
I thought seeing the 2 quilts next to each other may be helpful. I tried to adjust the lighting to dusk for better detail-


So my take home tips:

  • Use fine tipped marking tools
  • Stitch in the ditch the entire quilt first to stabilize
  • Be aware of the direction you are quilting in for your best possible stitch for your machine
  • This is a small enough project that I don’t think it matters where you start quilting, as long as you have stabilized the quilt well
  • If getting even circles is trying for you, mark out where the center of each circle is to be….approximately…this is a guideline to shoot for. I heard Sharon Schamber recommend doing that once – if you don’t need that – more power to ya!
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing....sometimes helped....sometimes not :)
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that  I would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing ….sometimes helped….sometimes not 🙂
  • The areas that have piano keys that have an angled end (as the piano keys at top right side of photo- start your back and forth line design in the point of the piano key and work out the the squared edge of the quilt. It is easier to get them more even.
  • If you have a change in direction that you are finding awkward- mark it with a purple air-soluble pen so you can see what you are shooting for as you quilt. It’s like driving a car- your hands will follow where your eyes are looking- but having a well defined plan helps
A picture of X's marked to functioned as a reminder that that row was to be quilted with lines....MARK IT!...I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key
The X’s functioned as a reminder – that row was to be quilted with lines….MARK IT!…I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key- it’s horrible to rip that tiny stitching!

I quilted this quilt on my APQS George (a sit down quilter) using So Fine #50 wt thread from Superior Threads on top , Filtec Magna-Glide Classic in the bobbin. My batting is Hobbs 80/20.

Now that I have done both quilts, I would have to call my self an eclectic quilter….( I think that is a kind way of saying I don’t have a style lol). But in all honesty, I don’t know that I want to be defined one way or another. Both have their place depending on the quilt.
So what do you prefer….the traditional or the modern version?
Now onto our TGIFF Linky Party. Please show a little love to others that are sharing their creativity by clicking through, visiting their sites and leaving a few warm and friendly comments to let them know you appreciated their fabulous finish! This is what makes this so awesome….sharing what we do with others around the world! Don’t forget  to link back to TGIFF or grab a button to display on your site!!!

[inlinkz_linkup id=599495 mode=1]
Thank you for stopping by and being a part of my world! I really appreciate it!
Happy Quilting!