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FMQ vs Rulers: Pros and Cons?

FMQ vs Rulers: Pros and Cons?

Old 01-24-2023, 08:37 AM
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Default FMQ vs Rulers: Pros and Cons?

Hi everyone,
I created my first quilt last Spring for my mom. I was a complete newbie, but dived right into ruler and FM quilting. I took an intro to quilting class at my local quilt shop and followed up with a ruler quilting intro class. But then I wanted motifs I couldn't do with rulers, so I studied Lori Kennedy's site and books. My quilt ended up being about 2/3 ruler-quilted and 1/3 FMQ.

I am now working on 4th& Main's "Illusions" quilt, piecing and quilting each block individually, QAYG -style. I am using a ruler for the central block flower motif, but the rest is all FMQ.

I guess my question for you experienced folks is, which method do you prefer? Or do you also use a mix of ruler and pure FMQ? I do like the regularity of ruler quilting, but rulers are expensive and also I find them kind of a pain to use - more "stuff" to manage while quilting. I am loving FMQ and feel like, with practice, I may not need rulers at all in the future....

What do you gravitate toward?
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:04 AM
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I have some rulers but really only use the straight one to help with SITD. I much prefer the freedom of FMQ and use it on most all of my quilts. Even tho my FM quilting isn't perfect, the 'hand drawn' look is rather charming, if do say so myself. I like 'charming' better than perfect.
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Old 01-24-2023, 01:40 PM
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I do a combination. I use rulers, particularly a straight ruler and a couple of curves when I'm doing straight lines, or curves in an area that would benefit from more precision and no wobbles. Esp. doing diagonals, and any kind of long curve. I have a couple of specialty rulers as well, but don't use them nearly as often as the straight and curves. I can't say I prefer either ruler or freehand quilting- just depends on what I want to do on my quilt. I tend to use rulers mainly to break up spaces on a quilt that has a lot of negative space, or to be more accurate when stitching in the ditch and then freehand everything else. But it really depends on what the quilt is telling me it needs.

A lot of my favorite quilters do a mix. Take a look at work by Lisa Calle, Bethanne Nemish, and Angela Walters for some examples.


Last edited by rryder; 01-24-2023 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 01-24-2023, 02:13 PM
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I use both and enjoy both. If I want a definite shape like a perfect circle, I use my circle rulers. I also like a straight ruler for doing straight lines when FMQ. I find it easier to get a consistent stitch length when using rulers. Do what works for you.
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Old 01-24-2023, 02:23 PM
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I do both and sometimes in the same quilt. I am finding though that I now lean towards FMQ over rulers especially after doing Angela Walters FMQ challenges and completing Holly Ann Knight's FMQ Academy.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:11 PM
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It depends on the project. I usually do a combination. Ruler work for blocks and FMQ for texture/fills. If I want something done quicker, or if there's a lot of design features and fabrics already in the quilt top, I'll do an all-over FMQ doodle.
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Old 01-24-2023, 06:48 PM
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I use the machine quilting rulers. I have accumulated quite a few of them. I tried the free motion quilting, but I liked being able to have the 'same' on every quilt block and with the free motion that was hard to duplicate, for me anyhow. Especially since I do the QAYG method.

That said, I've seen a lot of beautiful free motion, but my hands just can't do it. I prefer the quilting rulers. A lot of different ones out there that make so many designs.

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Old 01-25-2023, 05:10 AM
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When I first bought my long arm machine, I bought several kinds of rulers and even templates from Farrell's CountryStitchin. I found the rulers/templates somewhat awkward to work with with as a new quilter. I gave up on them, and just tried FMQ without rulers/templates and actually have more fun that way. The ruler quilting people do is absolutely beautiful, but the quilts I do are really intended to be used rather than exhibited, so my less than perfect FMQ works just fine.
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Old 01-25-2023, 07:17 AM
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I like quilting when I don't have to mark the quilt. Sometimes that's FM, sometimes it's with a ruler. If I had to pick I would go with FM, but rulers certainly have their place. You said it all in your last line "I am loving FMQ and feel like, with practice, I may not need rulers at all in the future...." Practice is the secret to both.
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Old 01-25-2023, 08:40 AM
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I am currently doing Hollyanne's FMQA too :-) Love it!
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