The Adjustable Ruler was invented in 2007 by Leonie West and it came about as a result of a frustration with the ruler that Leonie had been using to cut 1200 3/8″ bias strips. The ruler kept moving and was a nuisance lining up the fabric for each cut.
The Adjustable Ruler with its fabric guide and its companion Adjustable Triangles were a success, no slipping, accurate cuts every time and no need to struggle with lines on the ruler with edge of the fabric.
Once the Adjustable Ruler was set to the required size and using the guide to the fabric edge, every cut would be the same, no mistakes.
We took our Invention to The ABC’s New Inventors Show on July 2008 and won the Viewers Choice Grand Final. It was the first and last time a product associated with patchwork had ever been on the show.
The popularity of our products has seen our business grow each year and we have proven to be a leading Manufacturer of high quality, accurate Patchwork and Quilting Rulers, Templates and Guides and an extensive range of Templates for Domestic Sewing Machines and Long Arm Machines including custom made tools, all proudly made in Australia.
Leonie has made quite a lot quilts for family and friends. Just prior to her invention of the ruler, her quilt “Every Quilter Dreams” was a finalist in the USA. The Quilt was hung at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and Chicago. Her quilt, “Epsilon Auriga” won first in its category at Showcase in Melbourne, 2011 (Both Quilts can be seen on the Show and Tell page).
Over the past 9 years Leonie has been sharing her 37 years of experience with demonstrations and in workshops all around Australia and more recently, in the USA and the United Kingdom.
We now manufacture close to 500 products for Patchwork, Long arm Quilters and Domestic Machine Quilters. We also do custom work for Patchwork Stores.
When I design a new tool, I begin with an idea – I usually start with a line drawing and play and play. I want the tools that I design to work for me in a number of ways.
- My tools must be accurate – I need to know that I can cut the pieces and sew them into a finished quilt without having to spend hours squaring up the blocks.
- I trim the points from the pieces to make alignment easy – trying to align pieces with over hanging points is just annoying and inaccurate.
- I like the tools I design to produce beautiful, interesting blocks and quilts with the ability to be used in many ways – to make a variety of blocks from the base units – to be able to be used for borders and as with the Illusion template, to sash a quilt.
Piecing is a pastime that is meant to be relaxing – enjoyable – fun – creative and definitely not stressful.
Our products are sold throughout Australia and overseas and while you can purchase directly from us, we encourage you to make your purchase through your patchwork shop where possible, you will save on the shipping costs and will have access to fabric and other patchwork related accessories. If you are not sure your favourite store stocks our products, drop us an email or give us a call, we will tell you where to get them.
An insight into Westalee Design
Imagination – Innovation – Creation
We have 2 Systems for Quilters, our Patchwork System and our Quilting System.
Our Patchwork System of Rulers, Templates, Tools and Techniques enable the piecer to cut easily and accurately and sew accurately and we all know how important that is.
Our Quilting System is the first of its kind, a Ruler Foot and Templates for any domestic machine. This innovation gave quilters using domestic sewing machines the ability to quilt using a Ruler Foot matched with the correct templates, for the first time.
I love the process of quilting, stitching the 3 layers together. I can happily sit and quilt for hours” and I love to quilt using rulers and templates. The process of designing is sometimes a long one, but the achievement of creating a tool that works and works well is worth the effort. Every tool that we create is innovative and original. It’s like quilting, creating something from nothing brings great satisfaction.
There are a lot of questions that I am often asked and I thought that this may be a good place to answer some of them.
Why make a Ruler Foot?
Since 2008 we have been asked “Why can’t I use your templates on my sewing machine?”. The answer had always been “there is not a foot available”.
How long did it take to design our Ruler Foot?
From first thought to completion and manufacture about 3 1/2” years. Our first Ruler Foot was long before we thought about making a foot for sale, this Ruler Foot was for my own use, for my sewing machine and it went through many design changes before we were happy. The first Ruler Foot we manufactured for sale in 2012 was for Gammil machines, giving Gammil owners a true 1/2” ruler foot designed for Template work.
Why did it take so long?
When you are designing the original, the first of something there is only an idea in your head, nothing to imitate, nothing to look at and say “that works”. Our Ruler Foot is the first of its kind. How many machines are there? What does each machine require? There were many things to consider, there are over 3900 machines available and they each have there own needs to consider, shank height and template thickness to mention a few. We spent a lot of time in different stores on so many machines.
Shank Height – there are only 2 shank heights, machines with a high shank and machines with a low shank. How the machines work and how the machines are set to the needle position makes them different. So the research and investigation process took a lot of time. Remember that when designing something that does not exist, there is no information available to learn from. In the end we had to make 4 styles of Ruler foot. We had to create new names – Low Shank Ruler Foot, Medium Shank Ruler Foot (did you know that there is no such thing as a medium shank machine, it is a term that we created), High Shank Ruler Foot, High Shank Special Ruler Foot (there also isn’t a high shank special machine, this term we also created).
We made many prototypes from different materials including plastics and polycarbonate (this material is strong, but flexible. And while plastic is extremely cheap to set up and manufacture, it was not going to be good enough for quilting with templates and I am sure the Machine Companies would not be happy with anything but steel. We chose Aircraft quality metal, it does not flex or bend (I want accuracy, I do not want to be chasing the foot around). With our Ruler Foot on you can see where the needle enters the fabric and that is all you need as we are not quilting 2” away from the needle, all we need to see is the stitch line or the seam that we want to touch.
Why different Template thickness?
The standard template thickness was 1/4” or 6mm, this thickness is not needed on a domestic machine. 1/4” or 6mm templates impede the view of the needle entering the fabric and on many machines cannot fit beneath the shank (I want to be able to use my templates on every part of the foot. Our Certified Westalee Teachers will often carry a few 1/4” or 6mm templates for students to try and it is amazing that every student prefers to use our Low Shank or High Shank Templates. The comments that the students make are “easier to hold”, easier to move with”, “no loss of needle entering the fabric”, “gentler on their hands”, “feel that they have more control”, “better vision” and “no distortion of template lines through a thick template (parralax error)”. We have been making 6mm -1/4” templates since 2008 and these are necessary for longarm quilting machines, because of the hopping action of the foot.
Why do some of your Templates have a Key System?
In 2007 when we first began designing templates for quilting, templates were basically straight lines and curves. Circles were worked on the outside, difficult to hold and the holding hand had to be moved frequently (remember accuracy). To me it was obvious that it was much easier to work on the inside the hole left than around the hole cut out. But there were 2 problems 1. Entering the template and leaving without cutting the threads (I have no problem with sewing in ends in fact I find it quite relaxing). 2. Cutting a slot to enter the template left an unsightly flat spot in the quilted line.
So, we created a Key System like jigsaw piece that would complete the shape to be quilted and could be simply removed when need be. This was another first in the world of templates.
Why Rotating Templates and our Pin Location System?
I wanted designs that could be stitched in a circle (wreaths and wheels). Spin-e-fex were the first Rotating Templates in 2011. Followed by our Circles on Quilts series. These templates use our Pin Location System that was designed in 2009 for our Circleworks templates. The greatest benefit of our Pin Location System is that a template can be moved in a circular direction while keeping the centre (the Pin Location) in place at the centre.
How do you design your templates?
Trade secrets. The design process can be a long one and sometimes it all just falls into place quickly. It usually begins with me wanting to fill a space in a quilt. I design the shape. Decide if the template is to be used as a single, rotating or inline. I then decide on the reference lines needed – this usually changes as I work with the prototypes, to get more use from the template. Once all the artwork is complete the templates are sent to my wonderful testers to play with (my testers receive no instructions, they have to work it out for themselves). Instructions are then written, packaging is designed and videos are filmed.
You have given us so much education, is that important to you?
We have been creating videos on ow to use our tools since 2008, but when we launched our Ruler Foot and Template System we knew that this was a whole new learning process, as quilters had never had a Ruler Foot and Quilting System like this before. There is a lot to learn and the more education the better. Our Certified Teachers are amazing, but they cannot be everywhere, so videos are very important.
Our Quilting Design Inspiration Series of books and downloads is the next arm of our Education Stream. We also now have some of our amazing certified teachers writing books and patterns, to give you a different perspective from mine.
I truly love designing templates and designing the Westalee Ruler Foot for domestic sewing machines was a massive achievement. To see people become quilters and achieve what they thought they never could is probably the best part of developing our Westalee Ruler Foot and Template System.
We design and manufacture the largest range of Templates, Rulers and Speciality Patchwork and Quilting Tools in the world, all under the Westalee Design Brand.