Learning Ruler Work with Amanda Murphy!

Ruler Work, Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

Ever since BERNINA came out with the #72 Adjustable Ruler Foot for domestic sewing machines, I have wanted to add Ruler Work to my quilts.  I gave the effort a half-hearted attempt last year, but when BERNINA expert, Amanda Murphy started a quilt-a-long on We All Sew a few weeks ago–I jumped in with all three feet (my two + the #72)!

The ruler work quilt-a-long is being offered for FREE at BERNINA’s website, We All Sew.  and includes: downloadable instructions, written tutorials and videos–all FREE!

Thank YOU, Amanda!

Thank YOU, BERNINA!!!!

Follow along with me–a ruler work beginner–as I work through the lessons.


First, look at the rulers and the foot and how they work together.

The needle is set in the center of the foot and 1/4 inch away from the edge.  When you line up any edge of the foot–sides, front, back–your stitching line will be 1/4inch away.  (Sometimes this confuses me a little as I’m sewing!)

The stitching line is always 1/4″ away from the edge of the foot.

Ruler work, Lori Kennedy

To stitch ON a Drawn Line…

The ruler is notched to accommodate the foot. To stitch on a drawn line, you must align the ruler as below–The far edges line up with the drawn line…and you stitch in the notch.


When the foot is pressing against the ruler in the notched section–the stitching line will be on the drawn line. 
Ruler work, Lori Kennedy


Gripping the ruler was the next challenge. The ruler tends to slide.  I tried a few different types of glue dots.

I like the Westalee tape that Amanda mentions,  but I’m too new at this to have a strong opinion.

Adding a grip to the ruler helped quite a bit, but I still had trouble holding the ruler and moving everything…

Do I press down? Should I press the foot against the ruler?  How do I move the quilt while holding the ruler?  I felt like I need a third hand (why not, I’m using three feet, right?)  Watching the videos helped…but this is definitely going to take practice!

Ruler work, Lori Kennedy


In the video, Amanda warns about two things…your quilting foot must be down before you move the ruler in to position to prevent smashing the ruler and you must start stitching before you move the quilt or you get a little jump stitch…

Here’s what just one of my jump stitches look like, there are several!
Ruler work, Lori Kennedy


I was a little surprised the project starts by drawing the outline of the quilt…(I was hoping that we just used rulers for that job) but I can see how difficult it would be without a little pre-marking.

The pre-marking just takes a few minutes to set up. Amanda uses a blue washout pen.  I used my favorite, Dritz Cartridge Chalk.  (Amazon affiliate link)

Ruler work, Lori KennedyRuler work, Lori Kennedy


Amanda recommends adding blue painter’s tape to customize the ruler for different designs.  Brilliant!  Works like a charm!Ruler work, Lori Kennedy

I used 28 wt Aurifil cotton thread –one of my favorite threads for machine quilting.  (Topstitch 90 needle)

This is Area 1–Piano Keys
Ruler work, Lori Kennedy

Area 2 Love the Bricks!
Ruler work, Lori Kennedy

Area 3–Modern plaid…

Ruler work, Lori Kennedy

That’s all for this month.  Amanda Murphy and BERNINA’s We All Sew will be adding more this month….



Ruler Work requires lots of practice!

On domestic sewing machines, the 72 foot is required (so you can’t use a stitch regulator (BSR).

Rulers for ruler work are thicker than cutting rulers.

Rulers require some “no slide” modification.

The stitching line is always 1/4” away from the edge of the foot.

Begin stitching before moving!

Presser foot down before moving ruler into position.

Painter’s tape helps customize the ruler for different designs.


After concentrating so hard on Ruler Work, I made another version of this quilt using all free motion quilting…

Coming tomorrow!


Are YOU interested in Ruler Work?

Do YOU have any “lessons learned”?

Are you a member of Amanda Murphy’s Facebook Group?

We’d LOVE to hear!

Your Ruler-challenged quilter,


PS…If you like these motifs and tips, be sure to check out my book, Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3

PPS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!











52 thoughts on “Learning Ruler Work with Amanda Murphy!

  1. I love that you’re providing commentary on your experiences in learning how to do ruler work! Too often we see perfectly finished results online, and not the pitfalls along the way. What I’ll be really interested to hear, as you grow more comfortable with rulerwork, is how you like it as compared to FMQ. I know they’re two different styles, but I’m so looking forward to your comments! Thanks for always providing such useful info!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, good and bad with ruler foot sewing. I’m waiting for a ruler foot to get to the stores for my Baby Lock so I can give it a go. After reading your blog, I’m not sure I’m ready to try it yet. I’m just getting where I can FMQ with a little confidence other than stitch in the ditch all the time. I’m looking forward to seeing your FMQ the same things you did with the ruler foot and your continued experience with the ruler foot. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Just in case you’re interested Vicki, I bought my ruler foot at Nancy’s Notions when it was on sale. I have a Brother machine as well as a Baby Lock and any foot that fits on the Brother also fits on the Baby Lock. If you’d like to obtain one sooner than later, you might try SewingPartsOnline.com or SewingMachinesPlus.com. They both carry machine feet and will tell you what machine(s) they work with. In my opinion their prices are fair and service is excellent. Good luck and have fun!

  3. Angela Walters has some fantastic ruler work videos to help you learn more on You Tube. She has also worked with creative grids to come out with 4 new rulers that already have a no skid surface. Love them.

  4. Hi Lori, I can see ruler work in my future but I’m still working on my FMQ. However, I don’t use my Bernina b/c the throat is too small. I bought a Juki for FMQ. I love what you can do with rulers. The fun never stops does it? 🙂

  5. I bought a ruler foot and rulers set on sale a while back and played around with it. I was disappointed with the results so I set it aside for a bit. Hearing that you had the same challenges I did makes me feel a lot better about trying it again.
    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and expertise with us Lori, I’m sure everyone who reads your blog would agree with me. You are a Sweetheart!

  6. Good morning
    from Upstate New York.Love seeing your email every morning, thank you for all the great ides. I was wondering if you could help me, I am making a quilt with pieces from a wedding dress. There will be 10 inc blocks that I need to quilt,FMQ Is there a way to quilt a rose in a block that size. Thank you for your help. Shirley

  7. I LOVE ruler work with my Q20, easy and great stitches. Learning some “go-to” designs is what I am working on now. Just like FMQ, find a few you love and master them.

    • I just bought the Bernina Q20 (it hasn’t even been delivered yet) and am looking forward to perfecting my ruler work and FMQ. I admit that I don’t practice enough, but I think the stitch regulator will take some of the stress out of learning these techniques. I use the Westalee ruler foot on my Baby Lock, but it’s a short shank machine which means you have to buy 1/8 ” thick rulers instead of the 1/4 ” rulers. The 1/8 ” rulers are harder to find. Also, I use something called Gator Grip to put on the back of the rulers. I got a 60 foot roll from Amazon for $22.85. If you can share it with others, it’s amazingly cheap to use and lasts forever.

      Besides Amanda Murphy, there’s Amy Johnson, Debby Brown, Leah Day and Patsy Thompson who all have Craftsy classes and You Tube videos on ruler work. They are all great teachers!

      • I gladly replaced the Westalee foot with the Bernina one when it came out, but I do like the thinner Westalee rulers. Since you’re not looking straight down at the ruler when you’re using a domestic machine, the parallax on the thicker rulers’ lines can mess up your placement. Or at least it does mine.

  8. Hoping these lessons help me improve! Just an FYI – I found sheets of rubber gripper in the grocery store that are for opening jars. They are exactly like the tape that comes with rulers. I just used some double stick tape to adhere it to the back of my rulers.

  9. I use tall stick on jewels to help me hold onto my rulers. You can buy sheets of them at Joanns, Michaels, etc. also, at my hard wear store, I found stick on items, I think they are made for keys, no curve hook just a straight piece.
    Whatever the finish is on Alex Anderson’s new rulers, we need that on quilting rulers, not just cutting rulers.

  10. I have owned the foot and rulers for a year. I was so frustrated at my attempt to use them that I put them aside. You have inspired me to try again! Thanks for giving it a go and showing us your efforts as well as your tips.

  11. Hi Lori, Your ‘Beginner’s Lessons’ are spot on. I just jumped into ruler work myself for my current project – Mariner’s Compass blocks that require a lot of stitching in the ditch and echoing. The ruler helps me stitch a faster and straighter line. I bought myself two of Angela Walters rulers, Slim and Shorty, by Creative Grids which have slip resistant backs and are marked with both white and black grid lines so that they show up on dark or light fabric. I also watched her demo videos on YouTube. I will definitely check out Amanda’s videos at Bernina. I enjoy FMQ on my Bernina 770 but sometimes I just need a good straight line where using my walking foot isn’t practical. I didn’t think I would like ruler work, but the #72 foot and 1/4″ rulers have been a good addition to my FMQ arsenal. Looking forward to your next blog post!

    • What is a #72 foot? Is this only for Bernina’s? I read somewhere there is a normal foot that come with every machine that can be used for FMQ and it’s not the hopping foot. Any help on the letter of this foot?

      • The 72 foot is designed specifically for Ruler work. No substitute will work. My favorite foot for regular free motion quilting is the #24 open toe embroidery foot.

  12. Oh, Lori, I’m glad I’m not the only one to have issues with rulerwork! For some reason, my stitches are too long when I use the ruler foot and rulers. I have been doing a little more playing lately, and can see the possibilities with ruler work combined with fmq. Ruler work is certainly a new skill set, and will take practice, just like anything else.

  13. I bought some clear skate board tape and that works really well on the bottom of the rulers. it came in a huge roll and I gave some to a friend who is also starting with ruler work. Patsy Thompson also has a lot of blog posts in January that takes you through step by step. its been very helpful for me. I use a Janome 8200 with a Janome foot. Amy Johnson has 2 classes on ruler work on Craftsy.

  14. You are bang on with the Practice… I have sew steady ruler set with my Jukie, but have bought a Sweet Sixteen and several HD rulers. I do both FMQ and Ruler work. But still learning on both. Sometimes you have to practice on a Quilt Top to change your mind set. I don’t rip out…that is the learning curve! On my Sew Steady Rulers I have used non slip shelf cover (nubby rubber on a roll) and double sided tape. On My Handi Quilter rulers I do use their griper tape. Be aware it is strong and will scratch table surfaces. But it holds on the fabric. When checking out designs on paper use a little applique add a quarter inch brass disk. It has the pin hole in the center for your pencil and your lines will be the same as when you take it to your machine. Love all your post Lori and everyones comments. Always on the learning curve! Thanks!

  15. Ok, been quilting 6 years and on the Jaunt 4 years but have no clue RE ruler work,
    What is it supposed to do for me? No quilting stores to hang out in within 100 miles and I sew instead of surfing the net much anymore. Thanks for any input.

  16. I was fortunate to take a two day workshop with Amanda at this time last year here in Ottawa ON at my LQS The Running Stitch. She is a great instructor. We were learning FMQ with the new #72 foot – NO BSR in this class!!! I’ve had the Bernina ruler set for almost a year – took a few classes to learn how to use them while using Amanda’s panel. You say there is a learning curve! LOL there sure is!!! But what fun it is to play with this great equipment with two instructors teaching and encouraging us!

      • There are two BERNINA sets-one for domestic and one for the stand up long arm that includes a platform. The rulers I bought were not $399!! Closer to $125–but I’m not sure.

  17. I love ruler work. I wasn’t great at FMQ until I started using rulers. It gave me the confidence to do better at FM. I learned about ruler work a few years ago and never looked back.
    Now I have a ton of rulers, but usually do both, depending on the quilt. Lori, so glad you are getting into it. No stitch regulator here, as I use a Janome.

  18. The only problem I had with rulers were that mine’s a low shank machine. I have the Janome ruler foot, but I prefer using Westerlee generic ruler foot – I can see better. I also have some Westerlee rulers because they are slightly lower. Using a normal ruler I have issues because of the low shank. Still expensive, but the first time I used them I found myself wandering off because I wasn’t pushing against the foot enough. But I’ve made some headway and did some much better work recently. Like fmc, it all needs a bit of practice. I actually love ruler work!

  19. I’m following her ruler class as well! Waiting for the next installment is not my favorite part. After finishing the brickwork I did think to myself that I like Lori Kennedy’s free motion method better! Free motion bricks look more realistic. I do feel that rulers and free motion are compatible. Love your blog and all the motifs you share.

  20. I just tried doing ruler work and find my biggest problem is holding the ruler and moving both it and the quilt! I haven’t mastered this yet either but I will keep practicing. BERNINA’s new 72 foot is great once you get used to it quilting 1/4″ away from the foot. This was a great tutorial!

  21. I adore quilting with rulers on my longarm…I can’t quilt on my DSM to save my life!! Practice is the name of the game with quilting and you are doing great!

  22. Nazdar Lori. Thank you for link to lessons of Amanda Murphy. I tried to use ruler work with a treadle sewing machine. I misset another hand for driving a wheel. I made a video about it on my YouTube channel.

  23. I too am intrigued by ruler work on or regular sewing machines. I heard about the new feet sometime last spring/summer and checked my local Bernina dealer to see if there was a foot for me. I purchased the foot and then did nothing with it! This fall I signed up for a class in a local shop sponsored by Westalee rulers and ruler feet. I enjoyed the class, but immediately realized that when I take my Bernina on an outing, I need a special flat surface table to travel with me. Ruler work REQUIRES a flat surface, which I have at home in my Sylvia sewing table! At the class I was challenged by the slightly curved shape of the snap on sewing table that comes with my Bernina. I have been trying to justify the flat table, but it is about $179 on sale, so I need to be sure I am going to make use of it!

    I purchased the Westalee Ruler set and have used a few of them. I am interested to see how the feather ruler works. I watched a tutorial video and it made beautiful feathers, but I would rather do mine free motion, I think.

    Anyway, it is an interesting expansion in the machine quilting world. I expect I will find the rulers very useful! Especially when I purchase that new table!

  24. Oh! One more thing! I have some rulers that are circles. You stitch around the outside. Very difficult for me to make a perfect circle all the way around. The Westalee rulers were different. You stitch on the INSIDE of the circle and it seemed I was able to control the stitch and see where I was going to a greater degree.

  25. Yes I’m very intrested in ruler work. Unfortunatley im not in the position to get this 72 foot because Brother is not intrested to have there own. Maybe the Westalee foot will work unfortunately I have to order overseas which cost a lot transport cost. If I will work with ruler I would only use the straight ruler because my line are wobbely sometimes.

    • Amy Johnson supplies the Westerlee products at Sew Simple of Lynchburg VA. She did some good ruler tutorials on her Youtube channel and blog – Amy’s Freemotion Quilting Adventures (also on Craftsy).

    • Priska, I bought a Westalee foot and it works perfectly on my Brother machine. The Westalee rulers are great – keep looking – sometimes they go on sale. Good luck and happy quilting!

  26. I got started in machine quilting with you, Lori. Your motifs are stitched into several of my quilts, and I’ve done a couple of your mystery quilts. I purchased your classes on Craftsy, I got Amy Johnson’s two ruler work classes on Craftsy. I have a Janome MC11000SE, and have considered Amy the pioneer in ruler work on a domestic machine. I was able to purchase a foot that I like for the Janome based on Amy’s guidance. I need (want) more rulers, but they’re kind of expensive. I just kind of jumped right in with straight line designs and clam shells with a ruler that was recommended by Angela Walters. I’ve also been following Amanda Murphy’s videos; her quilting with rulers looks effortless. Most of Amanda’s videos I’ve watched, I can hardly hear her commentary. I’m definitely a machine quilting junkie and follow lots of quilters. I love your approach, Lori, and will anxiously await more of your posts.

  27. I have done some ruler work. It is a lot slower than FMQ so some patience is required. You do need to push the foot toward the ruler or else you foot will wander away from the ruler. I did get some ruler work craftsy classes on sale at Christmas, but haven’t gotten to them yet. It is unfortunate,though, that the rulers are so expensive. I like Patsy Thompsons U-Tube tutorials…she has a series now that I eventually want to try, but alas, I am trying to get through my multitude of UFOs.

  28. I have nesting circle rulers that use a key to use the proper size. I DON’T like these at all. You need to tape it to stay together. I now want to get arc rulers but don’t know which to get. I might get Patsy Thompson’s starter kit which includes a straight and two arc rulers but it is expensive (approx $75) and I already have a straight ruler.

  29. When the BSR came out had to relearn free motion and slow down ,now will have to relearn free motion sound of machine to use Berinas ruler system. I found it difficult to Hold ruler,and handle quilt movement. Glad I was able to sample with a class before purchasing another expensive item that I don’t use. Thanks to everyones tips may try out a different set of rulers.

  30. This is a great opportunity to see lots of instructions on quilting. It’s specifically on using rulers. There are products available for longarm as well as domestic machines. A Bernina is demonstrated but any brand will work if you have a foot designed to use with rulers.

    • Rulers can be ordered by master quilter Jamie Wallen. They lock together like a puzzle piece. About the price as all the rest. I saw his lengthy tutorial on a site called The QuiltbShow hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tim’s.

  31. I like the look of the Bernina straight edge SID rulers. I tried finding them on the Bernina website and could not find either. Any recommendations?

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