Need a Special Longarm Ruler? No Problem!

I am working on a special quilted art piece using new materials and techniques that I am currently experimenting with. Leather, heat transfer vinyl, computerized cutting, and chainmail! Each of the blocks in the quilt have different styles of background quilting for the theme of the block. I wanted a gentle wave as background fill for the House Stark block and could not find a longarm ruler exactly like I needed, so I decided to make one using my Maxx Air.

Longarm rulers need to be ¼” thick so the hopping foot does not jump the ruler and cause damage to the needle bar and throw off the machine timing. Not to mention break needles! Since we cannot cut that thickness of material with our cutting machines, I decided to cut multiple layers of craft plastic and glue the layers together to get to the ¼” height I needed. It took ten layers of the .020mm plastic to achieve the proper thickness.

Materials

Grafix Craft Plastic .020 mm

KNK Zing/Zing Air/Maxx Air Standard Material Detail Blade

KNK Zing/Zing Air 12″ x 12″ Extra Sticky Mat Set (Green Grid)

Engraving Tool

Clear adhesive for plastics

 

Maxx Air Settings

Engrave Settings

Engraving Tool, Force = 120, Speed = 400, Passes = 3, Blade Offset = 0,

Blade Height = 25

Cut Layer Settings

Red Blade, Force = 190, Speed = 300, Passes = 3, Blade Offset = .25, Blade Height = 25

Process Details

Brought my Corel design for the ruler into Make the Cut! and added the text for the ruler name. Separated the text and guide lines as separate layers for the engraving. I only engraved one text layer and a few guidelines only layers, the rest I just cut the outline of the ruler.

I could get three ruler layers on one sheet of 12” x12” craft plastic. Using the Extra Sticky Mat, I taped down the edges of the plastic, just in case. First, I engraved the plastic using the Engraving Tool with the ruler name and then changed to the Red Blade to cut the ruler layers.

After removing the excess plastic, I glued the layers together carefully making sure that everything lined up properly. I encased the engraved layers between the clear layers so I got a smooth bottom to my ruler. And for a little extra bit of security I used a clear packing tape on the ends while the glue was drying.

I then applied a few pieces of ruler grip tape to the bottom so the ruler would not slip on the surface of the leather as I was quilting. I did notice some minor “fanning” of the layers when the hopping foot was in motion, but not enough to impact the outcome. Next time I will be sure to apply more glue along the edges.

I am pleased with the results using my new longarm ruler. This was a quick solution to fulfill my need and I will be making more longarm rulers for special projects in the future!

 

 

Custom Quilting Line Stencils

I am working on new class samples for a workshop I teach, Custom Cuts, which introduces quilters to the many ways a computerized cutting machine can be a valuable tool in their quilting studio.

Stencils for fabric painting or wax resist work are often closed shape objects where you need to mask off the negative space. Quilters however, also use stencils to mark the lines of stitching used in quilting the three layers of a quilt together. You can purchase many designs from quilt stencil vendors, but if you need a special size or an original design, you will need to make your own. Traditionally, this is achieved by hand-cutting with a stencil blade the narrow channels that represent the stitching lines.

The challenge to do this by machine is to draw these channels or slots that the marking pen rides in without too much distortion. One of the fastest is to simply create a shadow layer of the object that is ½ the width of the desired channel size. Note that your design must be an open, not closed object. You want to create a shadow around the line itself not the design.

  1. In Make The Cut!, I found that a shadow layer of .025” produces a channel wide enough to accommodate a standard quilt marking pen, and a shadow layer of 0.017” works well for fine line marking pens.
  2. Separate the original design from the Shadow Layer and hide.
  3. Using the Eraser Tool in the Node Editing toolbar, erase portions of the shadow line to create the breaks necessary to hold the cut portions of the stencil together. I used an eraser width of 1 mm.
  4. Join the edited design to a rectangle to complete the stencil.
  5. Note that once created, the stencil SVG cannot be resized as that will also change the size of the marker channels.
  6. Cut!

mtc-quilt-stencil_opt

I tested on a few different materials, a pliable quilters stencil plastic that comes in a roll and a more rigid stencil plastic. Both material types are readily available from sewing and craft stores.

Best results are achieved when using the Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid) to firmly hold the plastic sheets in place. I also taped the edges for extra security.

Maxx Air Settings

Blue Stencil Plastic (pliable)

Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid), tape edges

Force = 110, Speed = 270, Red Blade, Passes = 1, Blade Height = 25

Hard Stencil Plastic

Extra Sticky Mat (Green Grid), tape edges

Force = 130, Speed = 80, Red Blade, Passes = 2, Blade Height = 25

quilt-stencils-5x7_opt

To use your new stencil, lay it over the area of the quilt top you wish to mark, insert marker into channels and mark quilt. Now you have lines to follow to add some special quilting designs to your quilt!