Quilting rulers, that is. Some people call them templates, but for my purposes I’m going with the term rulers. Anyway, last weekend I took a long-arm quilting class to help me develop my skills as a quilter. After all, I figured, if I’m going to devote an entire room of my house to this machine and frame, as well as considerable resources (read time and money), I should probably get at least passably good at it.
It was not my first long-arm class. The others focused on free motion quilting. I love the look of it, but it’s not as easy as those amazingly skilled YouTubers make it seem. Still, I did okay on the long-arms in the classroom. I had considerably more trouble on my own machine at home. I know there are some huge differences between the types of machines. I pretty much have the Yugo of quilt machines (the manufacturer calls them entry-level), and I was practicing on the luxury sedans during my classes. They’re heavier and their carriages move more smoothly. Those aren’t excuses, they’re facts. However, I have what I have, and I want to get good at it, so I need to practice, practice, practice. Even a Yugo can get a person from place to place.
I was looking forward to the ruler class. I hadn’t tried it at home yet, and I was eager to see what it was all about. First off, you need some essential equipment to do this type of work. There’s a ruler base for the machine, which I chose as my “upgrade” from my dealer when I got my machine. Smart choice. Then there’s a special foot, and lastly special rulers. I had two of those already from my attempts to use them on my regular sewing machine (that’s a whole different story, and a contributing factor to me buying the long-arm, but I digress).
In the class we learned techniques, then we practiced. We used large rulers, we used small rulers. We quilted grids, curves, circles, and stars. We tried clamshells and waves, and all sorts of fun things. We marked guide lines and quilted with them and without them. We combined rulerwork with free motion quilting. It was fun. It was satisfying. It looked pretty good (for the most part). I could do this!
With the purchase of a couple more basic rulers I set off for home and my own darling machine. The week got away from me, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally got a quilt on the frame. It was one I whipped up quickly using OLD material. It features a fun, brightly colored patterned stripe, and it worked up quickly. I figured it would be a good one to practice new techniques on. So far it has been. I’ve pulled out my rulers and begun to quilt it, and you know what? My machine does curves just fine! Using the rulers has given me a greater degree of accuracy and confidence. I know I have a long way to go to improve my skills, but by golly I’m going to get there. I’m so glad I finally tried out the rulers. Now back to the long-arm, I have a quilt to finish up.