9 Simple Tips for Straight Line Quilting


Are you new to straight line quilting? Maybe you’re just looking to improve your technique and skill. In either case, these nine simple tips can help take your straight line quilting project to the next level.

9 Simple Tips for Straight Line Quilting

1. Use Your Walking Foot

If your machine doesn’t have a dual feed system, use your walking foot. If you don’t have one, you won’t regret buying one. Make sure that you purchase a walking foot that’s compatible with your machine (check the owner’s manual).

A walking foot will help ensure that your top quilt, batting and backing move through the machine evenly and at a steady pace. Because your layers move evenly through the machine, there’s less concern about dragging or skipped stitches.

And remember to walk with your walking foot – don’t run. This isn’t a race. Move at half the speed you normally would. Sewing at maximum speed can create tension issues and a wavy mess.

2. Invest in a Good Pair of Quilting Gloves

Quilting gloves are usually associated with free motion quilting, but you can use them for straight line quilting as well – or any style of quilting for that matter.

The advantage of gloves is that they give a little extra grip that makes it easier to manipulate and feed your quilt through the machine.

You can buy specialty quilting gloves, but many quilters also use gardening gloves or simple work gloves. It’s really more of a personal preference here.

3. Try Quilting Bars for Parallel Lines

Quilting bars can be a helpful accessory if you want to achieve straight parallel lines. These bars can be placed to the right or left of the walking foot to ensure that your lines are evenly spaced.

Stitch your first line, and then set the bar to your desired spacing. Follow your previous line and continue on from there.

Guide bars are relatively inexpensive, and they can help you achieve great results when doing straight line quilting.

4. Move in the Same Direction

If this is your first time trying straight line quilting, you may assume that once you reach the end of the line, you should turn the quilt and move in the opposite direction. But you’d be wrong!

Rather than moving in opposite directions with each line, move in the same direction. When you reach the end of the line, head back to where you started and start stitching.

Moving in the same direction can help prevent tension issues that create wavy quilts.

But what if you have a big quilt that’s difficult to manage? Rather than going from one to the other, you could start at the center of the quilt and sew in the same direction for that entire half of the quilt. Then, once you’ve finished, you can rotate the quilt 180-degrees and continue the same process on the opposite side.

While you are technically quilting in opposite directions, you should still be able to avoid tension issues.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Quilt Closer

Rather than quilting at distances of 8-10 inches, try quilting closer. Quilting every 4-5 inches will generally create a more durable quilt that can better withstand frequent washings.

The closer your lines, the less stress you’ll put on each stitch when washing and when using the quilt.

If you want, you can go even closer. Dense quilting lines can be both beautiful and functional.

6. Mark if You Want Perfectly Straight Lines

Another way to get perfectly straight lines is to mark them before you start quilting. Use a ruler and mark the lines you want to follow.

Marking can be especially helpful if you don’t have any seams or lines to follow.

7. Choose Your Thread Colors Wisely

When choosing your thread, decide whether you want to be subtle or bold. Do you want to focus the attention on your quilting or the piecing?

  • If you want to be subtle, choose a thread color that matches the lightest color in your fabric.
  • If you want to be bold, choose a color that’s contrasting or attracts attention.

Don’t just guess how a thread color will look. Instead, choose a few different colors and lay the thread up against the fabric to see how it looks. Experiment with color combinations and choose the one that you really love.

Of course, you can also choose two colors. Your bobbin color will be visible on the backing, and your other color will be visible on the top quilt. If you’re going to use two different colors, try practicing on scrap pieces first to make sure that you’re happy with it.

8. Practice, Practice, Practice

As the saying goes – practice makes perfect. Straight line quilting can take some time to master, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Practice on scrap pieces before you start a big project. Take your time. Remember to walk with your walking foot – don’t run! Mark if you want, or use quilting bars. Just keep practicing and learning from your mistakes.

9. Try Quilting Every Other Line

If you’re stitching parallel lines, try quilting every other line first, and then going back to stitch in between these lines. For example, if you want your lines to be 2 inches apart, start by quilting every 4 inches. Then, you can go back and quilt in between each line. Not only can this help with even spacing, but it can also help prevent puckering and tension issues.

Whether you’re new to straight line quilting or an experienced veteran, these nine tips can help improve your technique and make your next quilting project your best ever.

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