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Ruler work on a domestic machine

Have you ever tried ruler work on a domestic machine?


I have had my Pfaff quilt expression 4.2 for 4 years and have always been fascinated by the beauty and precision of the ruler work. It brings your quilting onto a new level, builds new skills and opens design possibilities for your quilting work.


After taking a ruler work class with Amy Johnson on Craftsy I had to get a Westalee ruler foot for a medium shank sewing machine couple of years ago. It was the only ruler foot available for my Pfaff at that time. Then it sit in my basket for a while. I was scared of doing ruler work as it seemed difficult. I managed to incorporate a bit of ruler work into some of my quilts from the last year. Only this spring when I started working on my One block wonder quilt, my ruler work finally took off.


All colorful hexagons are quilted with rulers on my home machine Pfaff quilt expression 4.2

I would like to share my experience and show you that the ruler work is not that scary once you have proper set up .


What is ruler foot?


Here is a picture of my Westalee ruler foot.


Westalee ruler foot for medium shank sewing machines

It has a round thick base with high edge. That high edge is the key for the ruler work as it prevents the ruler from slipping over or under your foot. It is really important to use ruler foot for the ruler work otherwise you risk to break the needle, destroy your foot or even machine.


As you can see you need to attach the ruler foot to the presser foot bar and adjust the height manually.


I have been using this ruler foot for ruler work and fmq. I encountered the reproducibility issues with the Westalee foot in terms of the manual height adjustment.


I use my machine not only for quilting but for the sewing as well. So when you change the foot it is quite difficult to get exactly the same height as you had before changing the foot. Or if you didn´t tighten the screw enough or have been quilting for a long time, sometimes the height could slightly change during quilting due to vibration and you have to stop and re-adjust.


Now Pfaff designed special ruler foot for Pfaff machines.


Pfaff ruler foot

Thanks to @pfaff_suomi I had a great opportunity to test it on my machine.

The foot is designed for new models of Pfaff Expression line but works well for older models.


As you can see you still need to attach the foot to the presser foot bar. But contrary to the Westalee foot you always attach it on the same height.


All you need to do is to adjust the pivot height in your machine settings depending on the thickness of your quilt sandwich. It is much easier, more reliable and reproducible than manually adjust the foot height like on the Westalee foot.



What do you need for ruler work?


1. Ruler foot

2. Extension table to your sewing machine so you have enough space

3. Nice smooth surface so you are able to move your quilt sandwich freely - I use Supreme slider

4. Good quilting gloves so you have a better grip to your quilt and are able to move the ruler and your sandwich together as a unit.

5. Needles - I tend to use Top stitch 90/14 sewing needles but I made the samples I show below with Universal 90/14 needles.

6. Quilting rulers - I use Westalee quilting rulers but there are many different quilting rulers are available on the market. It is important to use quilting rulers as they are thicker than the cutting ones and don´t slip under the ruler. You would also need to put some adhesive dots to the bottom of your ruler so it doesn´t easily slip on the fabric.

7. Practice piece - a quilt sandwich of desired size


Now, let´s attach the ruler foot, drop the feed dogs and set your machine for Spring free motion.


How to adjust the pivot height


Depending on the quilt sandwich you are using you will need to adjust the Pivot height in your machine settings.


With your ruler foot attached to the presser bar, lower the foot. The general rule - the quilt sandwich should move freely under your foot, it shouldn´t be hard. Put the ruler against your foot and make sure it is not slipping under it.


I have tested the Pfaff ruler foot for different thicknesses of quilt sandwiches and came up with the numbers for the Pivot height adjustment. Please, note these are general recommendations and you might need to adjust the numbers to your particular quilt sandwich.


Here are some examples.


Low loft batting /Hobbs Premium cotton batting/


Pivot height -5, you might also need to decrease upper thread tension (I decreased mine to 4,8). I used 8" Arc ruler and Circles on quilts (by Westalee) and added some free motion circles.



Medium loft batting /Oriental dream/

Pivot height -5, standard thread tension 5.2. 12" Arc ruler and straight 6" ruler (by Westalee)



High loft batting /Dream Wool/

Pivot height -3 or -4, standard upper thread tension 5.2. Straight 6"ruler and 4" Arc (by Westálee).




Isn´t it amazing what we can do on our home machines? I do hope that this post will encourage you to give the ruler work a try. Sure, it requires practice as any other skill but you can achieve beautiful results.


Happy Quilting!


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