Saturday, April 18, 2015

What more can you do with a Ruler?

Back in the days when I was learning about pattern making and drafting we used a transparent flexible ruler with red lines forming a grid of eight inch increments. They have become my favourite type of ruler and are much more accurate than the thick and ridged quilting rulers.

These were most handy for many jobs and now they are available in more sizes. Whenever I am near a drafting store, an art supply store, a fabric shop or a sewing machine store I always check out their notions wall for more of these wonderful rulers. I am forever hopeful of finding yet another size or the opportunity to stock up on a couple of sizes. These rulers do become brittle and darken with age so that they are subject to snapping if bent.

The most common size is 2” x 18” but you will find 12” x 2”, 12” x 1” and 6” x 1”. I’ve even found a right angled ruler like you might find amongst a man’s work tools. One ruler I bought years ago was half metric and half imperial. The rulers with red markings seem to show up much better than the occasional rulers you might find with blue markings.


I love the little 6” ruler for small jobs and drafting doll patterns where the 18” or even the 12“ might seem too big.

So, you say, what can you do besides measure with them and draw straight lines?
First, if the ruler you purchased has pinholes down the centre, you can use it to draw circles or arcs. And since it is a ruler you can so easily calculate the radius and circumference of the circle you have drawn.

If you wish to measure a curved line the ruler bends allowing you to measure at a glance (depending on how long the line is and how tight the curve). You can only bend it so far but you can ‘walk’ it around a really tight curve.
You can easily find the centre point of a line (if it is less than 18”) by using the markings that measure from 0 down the centre of the ruler.
Not centred yet...
Done and centre is marked.
It is great for marking a right angle for short distances. For longer lines use a right angle ruler.
Drawing a right angle to a line.

Verify with a right angle ruler if available.

Add ¼” SA
Add seam allowances to a stitching line. Match up the line for the width of the seam allowance to the stitching line and pivot along this line, drawing the cutting line as you go.
Add 1/4" or 3/8"

Smooth the line when finished, if necessary.
Here ½” is being added with the right angle, all in one step thanks to the ruler’s transparency.

The only weakness I’ve found is that if I use these rulers with my rotary cutter, they can become nicked or the blade can cut into them. Then they no longer give smooth, perfect lines. I keep old rulers for just this purpose and make sure they are marked so I know which one is which!
There are probably more ways to make use of these wonderful rulers. But this is lots for now.
Next time you are shopping in the notions department why not pick one up and start experimenting!
Be sure to keep stitching! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Closing of Grace L. Knott

The company “Grace L. Knott Smocking Supplies Ltd.” is closing on April 30, 2015. This space in normally reserved for creative things but I need to put this posting out there to set a few things straight. 

There seems to be a misconception that I own GLK or that the company owns my patterns. Neither is correct. If I may give you some history perhaps this will set the record straight. 

Back in 1988 I went to work for GLK and three other Canadian companies as a sales representative. Shortly afterwards George (Grace’s grandson) asked me if he could publish a Christening Ensemble I had designed to feature the fabrics and laces from Capitol Imports. That began a 27 year long relationship during which I designed new patterns or reworked Grace’s old patterns to bring them up to date, add new views and add smocking designs to them. 

In 1998 I created the Grace Knott Doll’s Clothes Collection – miniatures of the GLK children’s patterns and a dress form pattern all to fit the very popular American Girl Doll. I owned these patterns but because I was working for GLK it seemed the natural thing to let my patterns be distributed through the company. This was my first endeavor and I continued on using my company’s name, “Amberlane & Amberpetites”. This was before company web pages took off and people were buying ‘on line’. Over the years my patterns were usually listed as being GLK patterns. Try as I might, no one was interested it seemed in correcting the situation on their web pages. 

When George decided for the second time that he was retiring in 2015 he asked if I would take over distributing his patterns and I agreed. Then he received an offer to buy his stock and the rights to his patterns in early March 2015. He took back his goods and I no longer am his distributor as of that date. Out of respect for the negotiations between George and the new owner, Maureen Marian of California, I chose not make any announcement regarding this matter. 

So yes it is true. George Webb, Grace's grandson is retiring and closing the company Grace L. Knott Smocking Supplies Ltd. April 30 – forever, sad as it is. The company has a history of over 80 years in business. This ends our 27 year working arrangement and I am sad to see the company close. 

I hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding this transaction. Maureen now owns patterns, books and rights to all his patterns. I wish Maureen, 'Katie & Claire", every success and the best of luck in her new venture. I look forward to doing business with her and you, of course.

I am still in business under the name Amberlane & Amberpetites (

And you can still order dots and GLK patterns from “Creative Sewing and Smocking” (


Thank you for taking the time to read this little post.
Judith Marquis