Yesterday I talked about the skills/technique classes I took over the weekend, and one of those classes focused on using rulers when quilting. Usually people think of longarmers when talking about rulers, but rulers can be used with sit-down machines (like my HQ Sweet Sixteen), and our domestic sewing machines.

One of the first rulers I bought to use with my SS was the Versa Tool ruler.

Versa Tool Ruler

I had read a lot of good reviews about this particular ruler, so I decided I had to have it. After I brought it home though, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I got it out a couple of times but didn’t do any real quilting. It’s been hanging out in my closet for a while now.

However, during the ruler class I found out what a real gem this little ruler is. I sketched out some of the basic quilting designs this ruler can be used for.


The rounded end can be used to make clamshells and circles. The arc on the opposite end can be used for flower petals and continuous curve quilting. The ‘L’ shape on the right side can be used for straight line designs, chevron quilting, and accenting quilt squares. The straight cut-out on the left side is perfect for stitching in the ditch. Simply line up the etched lines on the seam and the needle is perfectly placed to stitch in the ditch. This is probably my favorite feature of this ruler.

There are also two small half circle cutouts on the right side. These can be used as guides for quilting around applique shapes. Who knew that’s what those were for?!?

So, after learning all this I decided to play a little bit.

Clamshells with Straight Line Stencils

First I used a straight line stencil and iron-off chalk to stencil some guide lines. Then I used the circle end of the ruler to stitch clamshells. They were easy to stitch and I really like the way they look. This would be a great all over design on any quilt.

Now, while the clamshells are pretty, I wanted to take it to the next level. So I decided to do some micro-stippling to make those clamshells pop.

Clamshells with MicroStippling FMQ

See the difference? Amazing!!  Here’s a close-up of the micro stitching:

FMQ Micro Stippling close up

If you want to do some micro stitching of your own, turn off your stitch regulator and set the needle speed to fast. You won’t be looking at stitch length here, the goal is to densely quilt the area to make an adjacent area ‘pop’. This is really effective with a double layer of batting. I only used one layer in this sample.  I’m going to try this again with a thicker layer of batting.

Stippling is not the only design you can use. Any quilting design you do on a large scale can be done on a smaller scale and look great. On the sample I added a row of matchstick quilting so you can see what that looks like.

FMQ Matchstick Quilting filler

Here is a bigger picture of the sample piece:

Clamshells with background filler

I really like how quilting every other row sets off the clamshells and makes the piece look more finished. It doesn’t take long to do and I enjoyed playing with it. It was so eye-opening for me to see how a design can change when more quilting is added.

Now I know why the Versa Tool was named that – it is such a versatile ruler! If you have this ruler and have been wondering how to use it effectively, I hope this helps. I’ll share more designs as I stitch them.

If you use your ruler for other designs, I hope you’ll share them in the comments. I know I would love to see what you have created using the VersaTool.

Linking up with Late Night Quilter for Tips & Tutorials Tuesday.