When you learn free-motion quilting with Free-Motion Mastery in a Month, you quilt one 12" block each day. Then, at the end of the lessons, you trim the blocks to 10" x 10", cut them into pieces, and recombine them in a cool design to make a quilt. Seeing all those "ugly" blocks turn into a beautiful quilt is about as exciting to me as Cinderella's fairy godmother dressing her for the ball!
I designed the FMM30 Square-Up Ruler to have all the features I wanted for getting creative with my blocks, and in this post I'm going to show you how to use it. You'll be amazed at everything I packed into one little ruler and all the cool ways you can use it!
All of my FMM30 quilt patterns are based on a 10" pre-quilted block, so the outside dimension of the ruler is 10" on three sides for squaring up the block to 10" x 10". But when you cut a yard of fabric into 12 blocks, the blocks start out as 12" by 10-1/2" (if the fabric is 42" wide) or 11" (if the fabric is 44" wide). So, I made the ruler 11" high in case you want to trim the blocks to 10" x 11", as in my Bamboo Beauty pattern.
I often use printed panel blocks for the large-print blocks in my FMM30 quilts. I look for blocks that are 10" square, but sometimes they are a little smaller. So, I included square-up lines for blocks down to 8" square.
The square-up lines are marked in 1/8" increments. They are designed to work for both right- and left-handed people. For lefties simply rotate the ruler so the cutting edges are on the top and left side.
Position the ruler so that the the top edge and one side edge are where you want to cut.
Trim these two sides with a rotary cutter. For right-handed people this will be the top and right side; for left-handed people this will be the top and left side.
Pick up the ruler and turn the block 180 degrees, so that the top cut edge is now at the bottom. Align the ruler to the cut edges of the block to the side of the ruler and the 10" line at the bottom of the ruler (or the bottom of the ruler for 11"). Trim the top and side of the block again, squaring the block to 10".
Sometimes it's helpful to see exactly where the center of your block is. The FMM30 Square-Up Ruler has crossing diagonal lines to pinpoint the centers of blocks from 10" square down to 8" square, in 1/4" increments.
But that's not all . . .
Sometimes I need to rotate a block and keep the center exactly where it is. So, I put a pin hole at the crossing point of each diagonal line, so you can stick a pin in your block and rotate it (or the ruler) without losing the center point. Pretty cool, right?!
After trimming your block to a square, you can use the Quarter-Square Triangle lines to cut the blocks into 1/4-square triangles and 1/2 square triangles.
Select the Qtr Square Triangle line that equals the length of the side of your trimmed block.
Place the line along the side of the block.
With a rotary cutter, trim along the two sides of the ruler that extend toward the center of the block.
Repeat for each side of the block.
Select the Qtr Square Triangle line that equals the length of the side of the trimmed block.
Place the line along the side of the block.
With a rotary cutter, cut along the bottom side of the ruler until you reach the center of the block.
Rotate the ruler to the next side of the block.
Cut along top side of the ruler from the center of the block to the edge to finish the 1/2-square cut.
One of my favorite ways to play with the blocks in a quilt is to cut off the corners and flip them over to create contrasting diagonal lines in the design. I did this in both my Trucks Quilt and my Flutterbyes pattern.
Choose the Quarter Square Triangle line that gives you the size corner that you want (Tip: Mark it with masking tape so you don't confuse it with other lines.)
Place the ruler over the corner of the block, with HALF of the Quarter Square line on one side of the corner, and the diagonal line perpendicular to it on the other side of the corner.
Cut off one or both corners, depending on your design.
Dividing a block into rectangles -- like in my Dad's Woodworking Shop pattern -- is easy with the FMM30 Square-Up Ruler using the rectangle dividing lines.
Splitting a 10" block into thirds means measuring 3-1/3" inches for each section, a measurement you won't find on any other ruler. After squaring your block to 10", simply place the "1/3 Block of 10" Square" line on the edge of your block and cut with your rotary cutter. Repeat to cut the second section and -- Voila! -- three perfectly equal sections!
And just so you don't have to remember measurements, there are also lines for 1/4 of a 10" block (2-1/2"), 1/3 of a 9" block (3") and 1/4 of a 9" block (2-1/4").
When you assemble your blocks to make a quilt, you put them together with joining strips on the front and back. (Click here for a video to show you how.)
The FMM30 Square-Up Ruler has guides for cutting the joining strips and binding strips.
In order to cut the full width of fabric, fold the fabric from selvage to selvage twice -- in half across then in half again -- so that the folded width of the fabric is 11" or less. (This is one of the reasons I made the ruler 11" in one direction - so it would reach across this folded width of fabric.)
Place the line you want to use along the trimmed edge of then fabric, then cut with the rotary cutter.
The standard width to cut binding strips is 2-1/2", then the binding is sewn on with a 1/4" seam, so the binding finishes at 5/16" to 3/8" wide. However, I like the bindings on my FMM30 quilts to finish 1/2" wide so that the width of the binding matches the width of the joining strips. This is particularly nice if the binding and front joining strips are in a fabric that contrasts with the blocks. So, I like to cut my binding strips on the 3" line and sew them to the quilt with a 3/8" seam. This gives me a finished binding 1/2" wide.
Every side of the FMM30 Square-Up Ruler has a ruler measured in 1/8" increments, plus there are additional rulers across the center in both directions. Use the edges for linear measurements, or line up measurements across the ruler to align fabric for rotary cutting.
New on the 2022 update of the Square-Up Ruler are the Centered Triangle Cutting Lines.
After squaring the block to 10" x 10", use the Centered Triangle Right to cut the right-hand corner of the block, like this:
Then, use the Centered Triangle Left line to cut the left-hand corner of the block, like this:
You can also cut the block in half vertically using the center line on the ruler, then use the Centered Triangle lines to cut the resulting rectangles diagonally in half.
Here are some of the ways you can cut a block:
Here are just two possibilities of how to create a design with Centered Triangle cuts:
However you use the Centered Triangle lines, just be very careful to cut in the correct direction, because the cut-off corners are directional, NOT symmetrical. The only way to switch sides is to turn them over.
I hope you find the Free-Motion Mastery in a Month Square-Up Ruler as useful as I do! If you have questions or suggestions or ideas for improvements, feel free to email me at info@RaNaeMerrillQuilts.com.
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