Creative articles about quilting

Quilting with rulers – Part 1

Time to quilt our quilts! I’m going to quilt my rainbow Sugaridoo Bernina QAL quilt with rulers. And I have to say that I was kinda nervous for this part of the process. I have finished quite a few quilts, but really quilting a quilt, still feels like a big thing to me. 

And especially quilting a BIG quilt with rulers scared me a little bit. That is something I haven’t done before. I have quilted big quilts. I have quilted small quilts with rulers, but combining those two is new for me.

Soo if quilting a big quilt with rulers is new for you too: Yay! We’ve got this, let’s go on this adventure of learning new things together!

My plan for this quilt is to try out making different patterns with the BERNINA Ruler Kit. Play. Have fun. Allow myself to learn. To get more comfortable with quilting a big quilt. To get more experienced with handling a quilt+rulers under my machine. 

Image of Ruler Kit Table.

Ruler Kit Table

The BERNINA Ruler Kits contain five different templates.

Learn more

Nothing needs to be perfect

Really. It does not need to be perfect. When your quilt is done, when it’s all quilted and laying on your bed or on the couch, you will not see the imperfections in your stitching. When you’re quilting your quilt you’re so zoomed in that all you can see are those stitches that misbehaved, the stitches that did not perfectly land in the ditch, the circles that look more like ovals. 

But when you use your quilt, when others look at your quilt, all you will see are the beautiful fabrics and colors, the shapes, the patterns. But not those single stitches that did not go in your quilt as planned. 

So let’s try to let go of perfection. Allow for practice and progress. This is something I need to keep reminding myself of as well 🙂 Let’s see what quilting this quilt will bring us. 

Setting up your machine

There are a few things you need to pay attention to when you want to start with free motion quilting, or doing ruler work on your machine. 

Feed dogs

First of all, you will need to lower you feed dogs. Those are the little ‘grippers’ that help move your fabric underneath your foot. With ruler work or free motion quilting you want to move your fabric in all directions and not just in the direction of your feed dogs. 

So press the button on your machine to lower them. In this weeks video I’m also talking about what to do when you can’t lower the feed dogs on your machine. 

This video perfectly demonstrates how to install the BERNINA ruler foot and lower your feed dogs. 

Ruler foot

To be able to work with rulers while quilting you will need a ruler foot. I am using the BERNINA Adjustable Ruler Foot # 72. Using a ruler foot when quilting with rulers is important. You don’t want a ruler to slip underneath the foot and break your needle on top of the ruler.

Image of Adjustable Ruler Foot #72.

Adjustable Ruler Foot #72

Decorative quilt designs such as lines, feathers, circles etc. ✓   are created using a ¼-inch-thick Plexiglass ruler ✓  Markings on the inside and outside for simple, precise sewing ✓  The dial lets you adjust the height of the foot individually to the fabric thickness ✓  For 5.5 mm and 9 mm machines ✓ 

Learn more

You can adjust the height of the ruler foot. Place it so that it hovers your quilt. When moving your quilt underneath your foot you should not feel friction. 

Pressure setting

On the Bernina 770QE you can adjust the pressure on your foot. When you set this below -3 the foot will stop hopping. A foot normally makes a up and down motion, following your needle. But with ruler work its nice when the ruler foot stays at the same height. Play with this setting a bit on your BERNINA, when you go lower your foot will go higher. 


Extra grip makes quilting with rulers much much easier. I add grip to my hands by wearing quilting gloves. I got mine a long time ago with a quilting magazine, but you can find some in most quilt shops. 

And I add grip to the bottom of my rulers by spraying on some Grippy. 

When your hands and your rulers have some grip, you need much less tension to move your quilt around or to keep your ruler in place. And less tension in your hands and shoulders is very important to be able to comfortably quilt your quilt.

Let’s start quilting

OK, that is enough information for now I think. Let’s start quilting our quilt.

I’m starting with the 4 rows in the middle of the quilt. Rows 5 to 8. In the video you can see me quilting these rows. In this blog post I’ll share some pictures and a discretion of how I created the design. 

I like to keep this quilt soft, so I don’t want to quilt my lines too close together. Feel free to alter the designs, make them your own. Use them for inspiration and make something completely different. I think the important thing is to make it your own, to quilt something that you feel like quilting.

Row #5

For this row I echoed around the Hastags. Echoing is following the lines of a quilt block, or a shape in the quilt.

You can stitch in the ditch, in the seams of that shape. Or, like I did with this row, quilt a certain distance away from the shape. I quilted at 1/4″next to the hashtags and also added some rectangles in the empty spaces between the hashtags.

Row #6

The pattern I quilted for this row is a combination of following the straight edge ruler and adding some loops.

I start at the left side of the quilt, make a straight line across, and every now and them I make a little loop on to of the line. While making the loop I keep the ruler at the same spot so I can ‘land’ on the ruler after making the loop and continue with the straight line.

Whenever I ran into a yellow shape I stitched on the line around the shape. 

Row #7

Behind these arrows I added some wavy lines.

Using the wavy ruler I quilted lines around the arrows. Every time my wavy line would cross an arrow I stopped and stitched in the ditch around the arrow until I could continue my wavy line. 

Imperfect stitches like in the image below are fine. I think my ruler slipped away a little bit here, so the line isn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be. But in when all the quilting on the quilt is done you won’t notice this anymore. 

Now this row is finished I’m thinking of adding some extra wavy lines. Maybe I’ll echo some of the waves to fill in the spaces a tiny bit more.

Row #8

For this row I quilted a box around the blocks and then made wiggly lines in between the green stripes.

Using the straight ruler I quilted around the blocks. Using free motion quilting I made wiggly lines in between the green pieces of the blocks. A fun little practice session to make that small wavy motion and keeping the stitch length somewhat consistent. 

Also here you see some ‘imperfect stitches’. I did not want to stitch on the green fabric. But I think it not such a big problem. I’m not going to rip out the stitches and start over.

I’m very happy with the stitch length in this little area though. Practicing will make your stitches more and more even over time.

Next week

That is it for this week. The first four rows are done. I can’t wait to see how you will quilt your quilt!

Next week I’ll be back to quilt the next four rows. That blog post will go up the 26th of November. On the 3rd of December the last part in this quilting mini series will be up on the BERNINA blog.

Happy quilting!
See you next week,

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  • Gilly T-W EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I have a BSR but can’t find a ruler foot like #72 to use with it. Can you tell me if there is such a thing please?

    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Dear Gilly,

      Not at the moment, so you would need a Longarm Machine with a built in BSR to be able to use both at the same time. Please do not use the BSR foot with a ruler, since this could either result in hurting you or damaging your machine.

      Kind regards, Ramona from BERNINA International

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