Tips for Straight Line Quilting

Created By:

Fran Gulick

Skill Level: Advanced

Hi everyone! Fran here, of Cotton and Joy. Today, I will be sharing some tips for my go-to quilting, straight-line quilting!


So, why straight-line quilting?


I love to quilt my quilts using this technique because it’s cheap compared to sending my quilts to a long armer, and it’s something I can do on the machine I already own. You don’t need any extra notions or tools to get started; all you need to know is how to sew straight.


Granted, that is the tricky part - how do you get a straight line when straight-line quilting? Here are some of my tips!


Good Basting

The first tip when it comes to straight-line quilting is to make sure you have a really good baste for your quilt sandwich (the quilt top, batting, and backing). You can be the best sewist with perfect accuracy, but your quilt can still bunch up and cause puckers if your basting is not done well.


Start by ironing your quilt top, backing, and even your batting if needed! Sometimes, the batting can have a lot of wrinkles from being in the packaging, so giving it a quick pass with your iron can make a big difference.


If you are pin-basting, make sure you have pins at least every 4 inches. If you’re using basting spray (my preferred method), don’t skimp out on spray. I know it can be pricey, but it’ll be worth it in the end!


After you’re all done basting, run your hand lightly over the quilt sandwich. If you sense any lumps or see fabric bunching up, don’t be afraid to pull pins or peel the layers and fix them. This is the time to do it to prevent puckers later on!


Use a walking foot

Also called even feed feet, these little guys make a big difference. They have feed dogs that move and help feed all the quilting layers (quilt top, batting, and backing) evenly through the machine.


My machine, the Janome M7, has two different even-feed feet - the AcuFeed AD Foot and the AcuFeed HP2 foot. Both are fantastic for straight-line quilting, but I tend to gravitate towards the HP2 foot as it uses the same plate as the HP foot I use for piecing.



In addition to evenly feeding all the layers in your quilt, walking feet usually come with a guide bar. This little bar is usually adjustable, and you can use it to measure how far apart you want your quilting.


So, if you wanted to do lines every 2 inches, you’d measure 2 inches from your needle and adjust the guide bar to 2 inches. Then, you can sew your second quilting line 2 inches from the first line using the bar as a guide.


Use references


What I mean by this is, let your quilt top help you! For your first line, pick a long, straight seam already in your quilt top as a reference. You can either line your walking foot’s edge with that seam or use the guide bar.



I also use some of these long seams already in my quilt top to re-adjust my quilting. We are all humans and inevitably get a little crooked. So use the quilt top’s seams to guide you through your quilting. For example, when you’re getting close to your sashing or edge of blocks, use those seams to re-straighten your quilting.



Don’t have long seams to use as a guide? Mark your quilt every six or so inches using a hera marker or a specialty pencil. This will help keep your overall quilting straight.



I hope these tips will help you in your quilting journey!

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