The perfect companion to the Janome MC9400QCP upgrade pack (reviewed here) is the Janome ruler work set. This pack allows you to create beautiful free motion quilting designs with the aid of rulers for precision. It also works for the Janome MC15000 too. You do need to have a ruler work foot to use these rulers, it comes in the upgrade pack.
When free motion quilting if you are trying to create a repetitive design like clamshells for instance, a geometric design or even just a design with lines or curves it is very hard to keep the design accurate and perfectly repeating when doing it completely free hand. This is where quilting rulers come in very useful. Using the ruler work foot on your sewing machine you can bring the foot right up against the edge of the rulers and stitch around the shape of the ruler, move the ruler and repeat, giving you accurate repeatable designs.
The Janome quilting rulers come with several lines marked on them which help you line the rulers up with previous stitching, any marking lines you’ve drawn on the quilt or the lines of your quilt blocks. The arc shaped ruler has lines which allows you to echo your stitching with your curves an equal distance apart. The rulers also have a handy pop out part on the side, that looks like a jigsaw piece, this allows you to move from one ruler to another without breaking your line of stitching.
Although this is billed as a 6-piece ruler work kit containing the 7 rulers detailed below. The image above each ruler shows some of the designs you can quilt with that ruler, all quilting in those images was done by Lesley Brankin.
Simple Pointed Oval 1.5” x 2”
Stitch around the inside of this template to create simple flowers, repeating chains or wavy lines. This is the centre ruler in my photo of the rulers above.
Hearts of Plenty – 2” x 4”
This ruler lets you create beautiful hearts, which can be used for quilt borders. You can make them overlap or change the spacing between hearts to suit your quilt. Shown middle of the top row of my photo showing all the rulers.
Oval Clamshell – 1.5” x 1.5” & 1.5” x 2.5”
This template allows you to stitch 2 different size of clamshells, you can either follow the top or the bottom depending which size you prefer. You can use both to create double clamshells. View it in the top left of the picture showing all rulers.
Straight Ruler 8” x 3”
As well as being able to use this ruler for straight lines the marked angles and ¼ inch lines on it let you line it up for cross hatching, echoing, and more. Middle left of the image above showing all rulers in the set.
Spin E Fex 11 – 5.5”
The ruler I used to create my flower (below). It can be used to create several different patterns useable for quilt borders, sashing’s, fills and motifs. It’s the ruler in the middle right of the picture of the rulers.
You can use either the inside or the outside of this ruler (I found the outside harder) to create curved cross hatching or to fill shapes or small areas. Shown top right of the picture of kit contents.
There is also a very handy 7th ruler included in the kit, the 8.5 cross hairs ruler (the square one at the bottom of the picture above). Unlike the other 6 rulers this is not one you put under your sewing machine foot to stitch around, you use it to mark lines or points on your quilt to help keep your designs accurate.
For instance, when I was stitching the flower design above, I used the cross hairs ruler first to mark lines which would be the centre of each petal. Firstly, this helped me who where to move the ruler too when starting the next petal. Secondly, it ensured each petal is perfectly spaced to make a symmetrical flower. If you look at the picture below you can see the green chalk lines I was using to guide me. I also lined it up with one of the white lines on the ruler to ensure accuracy.
I’ve only been using the rulers for a few weeks but initially my favourites are the clamshell ruler and the spin-e-fex. The clam shells are so uniform and line up perfectly, and it’s such an easy ruler to use and is great for an all over design like on my cushion cover below. I found the hearts and the arc take a bit of practice to get used to.
The ruler pack comes with an instruction booklet that shows you some of the many designs you can make with each ruler so I won’t cover that here. Needless to say there are almost endless possibilities, especially once you start combining rulers together in the same design. Incidentally you may be interested to know that the rulers in this pack were design by Leonie West, who is the designer of the popular Westalee rulers. When you start researching quilting rulers it is the brand that comes up over and over again as being the best and most popular, so you can be assured that your Janome rulers have been designed by an expert.
You also get a free project included in the pack, in a booklet and on a dvd. The project is to make a case to hold your rulers, and it gets you using different rulers to design quilted panels for the case. The project booklet is a little confusing as the instructions don’t seem to be in order. I would suggest reading through the whole booklet first, because for example the cutting instructions are in the latter half of the booklet, not at the front where you would expect to find them. It looks very handy and you definitely want to store your rulers safely to ensure they don’t get broken. As far as I know they are not available for individual purchase. I think the case would look lovely made in denim.
A few things you need to know before you start using your rulers. Firstly, I highly recommend using the Janome free motion bobbin case. This bobbin has looser tension that the standard one which allows the bobbin thread to flow more freely when you are free motion stitching. I found when I was free motion quilting with the standard bobbin case I got little ‘eyelashes’ of thread on the back of my fabric, when using the free motion bobbin case it looks as good on the back as it does on the front. Just make sure you remember to swap it back when you go back to normal stitching – make it a habit to remove it when you raise your feed dogs back up then you won’t forget.
Secondly, before you use the ruler make sure you lift the thread out from underneath it. It normally ends up under the ruler and you don’t want it getting trapped between the ruler and machine. So, pick it up and hold it whilst you do the first stitch to pull up the bobbin thread.
Thirdly, you’ll notice that once you have done the upgrade and the ruler work stitches appear on your machine there are 2 options for you to choose from: medium and light. You may be wondering what the different is and which one you should pick. When I checked the only difference is the height of the foot, the medium is set at 2.5 and the light 1.5 (ie. lower). I presume the options are there so if you are quilting a low loft/flatter quilt you can pick the light stitch, and if it’s a higher loft/fluffier quilt you opt for the medium.
You can of course adjust the foot height anyway if neither of those settings work for you. At the bottom of your screen you’ll see a picture of a foot with a double ended blue arrow after it. Press the plus or minus signs next to it to change the height of your foot. Ideally you want it close to your fabric, just skimming the surface, but not pressing right down into the fabric as you might get drag when quilting.
The Janome Ruler Work Kit has just arrived in the UK and should be available from your local Janome stockist, or you can find it in several online stores including GUR Sewing Machines. The recommended retail price is £79.
To read our review of the Janome upgrade kit for the MC9400QCP click here.