Thursday, March 12, 2020

Order In the Studio: DIY Wall Mounted Racks for Longarm Quilting Rulers

Good morning, and happy Thursday, everyone!  Thanks to my blog-reader-friend Diane in Texas, SAMWISE LEARNED HOW TO GO DOWN THE STAIRS YESTERDAY!!!  After reading my post about how I was carrying my 50-pound Rottweiler puppy down a flight of stairs every morning, Diane emailed me with step-by-step training instructions to get Samwise over his fear of the stairs, and they worked like a charm.  It took me all of 5 minutes, y'all, and this morning he came down the stairs all on his own.  I am eternally grateful, Diane, and so is my back!!

On to the Quilty Goodness...  I have been wanting to show you guys the wall-mounted ruler racks that my husband made me for Christmas, and since I haven't got any sewing progress to share with you, today is the day for the DIY Ruler Rack post!

Inspiration: Lisa Calle's Ruler Racks, shown on her blog here
I first saw racks like these on Lisa Calle's blog, Living On a Thread, in her post about setting up her quilting studio in her new home.  If Lisa had these for sale in her online shop, I would have just ordered them from her -- but when I asked her about them, she said that a friend made them for her and it's not an item she sells.  I searched Amazon, did some google searches, and still could not find anyone selling racks like these, so I begged and pleaded with my husband to make them for me.  Anyone who develops a ruler addiction will understand that it's not just owning the right ruler for the quilting task at hand that matters -- it's REMEMBERING which rulers you own, and being able to survey your options and quickly put your hand on the right ruler right when you need it!

Here's what you -- or a handy woodworker who loves you -- will need to make racks like these for your studio:

DIY Ruler Racks for Longarm Quilting Rulers

Gather Your Supplies:

  • 4' long 2x4 of wood, one per rack

Rebecca's Ruler Racks

Making the Ruler Racks:

  1. Mark evenly spaced lines on your boards, approximately 1 3/4" to 2" apart
  2. With a table saw (or a sliding miter saw, if you don't have a table saw), cut grooves into the board at each line that you marked.  My grooves are cut at a 31.6 degree angle and go approximately 1" deep into the boards.  Make sure the groove is slightly wider than the 1/4" thickness of your rulers, so they don't get scuffed up when you take them in and out of the board.
  3. Sand the board smooth with the sandpaper
  4. Rub all sides of the boards with mineral oil to make them look pretty and to protect the wood from drying out
  5. Drill through your board about 8-10" in from each end
  6. Mount to your wall near your longarm machine with toggle bolts through the pre-drilled holes (the toggle bolts will safely hold the weight of the racks on drywall even if you don't have a stud in the exact location where you want your racks)

Lisa's racks look beautiful in the dark stain finish, but I preferred the mineral oil finish for my studio.  The light, natural finish of my racks looks better with my maple butcher block cutting table, plus the mineral oil doesn't need time to cure like a varnish or stain.  I wanted my racks to be installed and filled with rulers ASAP, without having to worry about not-quite-dried stain making my rulers stick in the grooves.

Bernie actually made four of these racks for me, but I only have enough rulers for three of them (so far...)!

Although I've been doing more piecing than quilting lately, I did buy some more nifty longarm rulers, and I'm looking forward to trying them out on a real quilt soon!  When I first purchased my longarm machine, I ordered some rulers from The Gadget Girls that I thought would be useful.  These are the yellow ones you see on my ruler racks.  First attempts to use them were comical, though -- this was before I'd taken any classes on quilting with rulers and I didn't know anything about where to position my hands for the best control of the ruler or using anything on the back of the rulers to keep them from sliding around while I was stitching!  Also, the rulers I ordered initially weren't as versatile as I thought they would be -- the clam shell ruler only makes clam shells in one size, for instance, whereas clam shell quilting can easily be accomplished with circle templates that are easier to control and can be used for so many other things.  

So, after taking hands-on ruler work classes with both Lisa Calle and Judi Madsen at the Paducah AQS show last Spring, I had a few rulers that were included with my kit fee for the classes.  It was great to be able to test those rulers in class, learn how to use them successfully, and know for sure that they would work for me before committing to purchasing an entire range of sizes.  These rulers/templates are just 1/4" thick etched acrylic, but they are pricier than you'd think -- probably because they are made in relatively small quantities for small businesses serving a niche market.  Some of those yellow Gadget Girls specialty rulers I played with probably work well for what they're designed to do, but I need to find a good tutorial for using them!  I really liked Lisa Calle's Quilter's Groove circle and arc rulers after using them in class, so I purchased them in every size she offers.  That way I'll always have the exact size I need, no matter what I'm working on.  

Quilter's Groove Pro Circle Templates, available here
I'm thinking of using those circles to quilt a Baptist Fan design in the center of my Pineapple Log Cabin quilt.  Not sure what to do with the borders, though.  I can also use them for clam shell quilting, wreaths, etc.  I really like the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal reference lines on the Quilter's Groove Pro Circles.

The Pro Echo arcs, also from Quilter's Groove, can be used for everything from curved crosshatching to border designs.  Lisa's YouTube channel has lots of great videos for how to use her rulers, and she also has an online ruler work class on the iQuilt platform.

Quilter's Groove Pro Echo Rulers, available here.
My most recent ruler purchase was Bethanne Nemesh's Garden Lines collection of rulers: two different French curve rulers, a nifty little applique ruler, a long point-to-point or stitch-in-the-ditch ruler, and a pair of small multipurpose rulers for stitch-in-the-ditch and continuous curve quilting within pieced blocks.

Bethanne Nemesh's Garden Lines Ruler Collection, available here

I also purchased the two larger French curve rulers that Bethanne released more recently, the Lily 3 and Long Lines rulers:

Bethanne Nemesh's Lily 3 and Long Lines set, available here

Not only can I use the French curve rulers for creating identical, symmetrical feather spines, but there are so many other cool ideas for using them in Bethanne's video tutorials.  Seriously; those video tutorials are a huge selling point for me, because any ruler is more useful when you understand how to use it, what it was designed to do, and how the various markings are intended to be used.  After successfully quilting Lars's Mission Impossible graduation quilt with a DIY custom curve ruler and two basic straight edge rulers, I feel MUCH more confident now about what I can do with my longarm machine when I can guide my hopping foot along the edge of a 1/4" thick acrylic template to ensure a smooth line of stitching.  So much easier than free motion or even following a pantograph, in my own limited experience, and that's what encouraged me to splurge on a complete arsenal of the basics.  

These rulers are going to be so much fun to play with on my quilts!  I'm linking this post with:

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·       Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

your ruler racks look great - glad you got puppy to learn how to get down the stairs!

Jayne said...

Thankfully someone reached out with a quick training tip for your puppy to manage the stairs! It's awesome having a husband who is handy and willing to make something useful for our work! Your racks are amazing!

Carolyn S. said...

Your ruler racks look great! I showed your photos to my woodworker husband. He said are these ART? They do look like art the way you have the rulers arranged.

I'm hoping he will make some for me. Great idea and very well done.

Katie said...

Fabulous racks! Thanks for the tutorial. :-)

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Looks great!!! and so glad you got your dog going down the steps!

grammajudyb said...

Your ruler racks really are pretty on your wall. Kudos to your DH for getting them done fore you. said...

And I thought I had a lot of quilting rulers. . .those ruler racks are amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Karin said...

Thanks again for linking up to the Let's Do Some Ruler Work Linky. Those racks are a fantastic idea. I just recently went out and bought a small chest of drawers from Ikea and filled 2 draws with rulers!. I so have to stop this:). Interesting you mention Lisa Calle's rulers. When I started collecting, I could not find an arc that worked well for me, so I bought one of Lisa's. They are absolutely fabulous and I ended up buying a whole Pro Echo curve set from her. Somehow I find them easier to align than others as they have got additional alignment lines just where I need them. Also have the Bethanne Nemesh French Curves, but have not done that much with it as yet.