Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #26

I have always used my walking foot to quilt straight lines because I like the look of straight lines when quilted with a walking foot. Even after I learned to free-motion quilt, whenever I have to quilt straight lines, I dutifully change out my quilting foot for the walking foot!

Sometimes stitching with the walking foot and feed dog up isn’t the most convenient … like quilting piano keys, for example. As a result, I have never quilted piano keys on the border until my last quilt. After I decided to be brave and free-motion quilted the straight lines with a ruler.

In the past, I tried free-motion quilting the straight lines to avoid the twisting and turning the quilt, but the stitches would look like the ones in straight line “B”, shown in the picture below. The stitches look like they are quite uncertain of themselves, and the occasional “veering off the straight-ness” moments just bug me. I like my straight stitches to look confident and just plain nice… enter line “A”. Line “A” is quilted free-motion with the use of a ruler. I like the look of “A” stitches MUCH better…

An Accents in Design Fine Line Quilting ruler…


Here are a few points in using the ruler for domestic machine quilting that I hope would be helpful to you:

1. Use the smaller sized rulers – 6″ or 8″. Anything bigger might make handling harder.

2. The key to using the ruler is to anchor it down with your hand (butting it against quilting foot), and not lose the pressure, and maintaining the same grip through an entire quilting pass. If you lose it, you might lose the exact positioning, and causes veering off and jerking in your final result. Lots of concentration needed! But once you are through one pass, take a deep breath and a mini break before you attempt the next.

3. The ruler actually has scored markings so that you don’t have to mark your quilting lines. I go ahead and mark my quilts because I find that to have to move the quilt, move the ruler AND check my quilting pass against the scored lined is too much for little old me quilting on a home machine.

4. When doing piano keys, I find that it’s easier to quilt horizontally than it is vertically. For me, at least. You just have to play a bit and find out which one suits you the best.

5. I find that the Fine Line Ruler isn’t as good for quilting in the ditches because sometimes a seam is not perfectly straight, especially after the surrounding area is already quilted. If I absolutely have to quilt in the ditch during free-motion quilting to move from one spot to the next, I actually quilt in the style of “B” line, as shown above. I just gingerly take very small step to quilt along the seams. The stitches should “bury” themselves in the “ditches” (thus quilting in the ditches) and not visible.


Now I can quilt piano keys and not have to be frustrated with my stitch quality. You will see more piano keys in my future quilts, I am sure. In this case, a little bravery really went a long way… sometimes we just need to be a little brave, don’t we?

p.s. I have also quilted curved cross-hatching using ruler. Click here to read about it.