7 Easy Ways to Finish a Quilt With Straight Line Quilting!

| |

Straight line quilting is the easiest way to finish a quilt and it’s especially great for beginner quilters. After spending so much time making a quilt, you can confidently quilt it yourself in straight or wavy lines. Here are 5 easy variations on straight-line quilting that I think you will love.

But first, I’ll show you how to get started.

Tools for Straight Line Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Besides a quilt all sandwiched, basted, and ready to go, these are the tools that I feel are most important for straight-line quilting:

  • A walking foot (or dual feed foot) for your sewing machine. I wouldn’t even attempt straight-line quilting before it. Learn more about what a walking foot does.
  • If your walking foot comes with an attachable guide bar, that’s awesome! If not, you can also find a generic guide bar and tape it to your walking foot. You’ll have to watch to ensure the tape doesn’t come undone, but it will work fine. I did that lots of times before I bought my Janome.
  • Quilting gloves are a must for your hand, arm, and back muscles. They help you grip the quilt better and relieve the strain. My local quilt shop only carries purple ones because that’s the owner’s favorite color!
  • High-quality needles and thread. I love high-quality thread and mostly use Superior Titanium Topstitching needles, size 90/14.

How to Do Straight Line Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Make sure that you have plenty of room to the left side of your sewing machine for the quilt to spread out, if possible. Start quilting in or near the middle, where you hopefully have a nice seam running down the quilt to help you sew in a straight line. This is one of my ‘cheats’ that helps me not have to mark a straight line down the center to get started.

Gently roll or fold the right side of the quilt to help it move through the machine. Even though the quilt is hanging down in front of the sewing machine in the picture above, that’s not how it looks when I’m sewing. When the machine is running, I pick up the quilt in front of me and put it on my lap (or over my shoulder) to help the quilt move through the machine with as little resistance as possible.

How to Start Basting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

It’s best to begin straight-line quilting in the center of the quilt. A center seam line, if your quilt has one, will be a wonderful guide for your first line of stitching. Start sewing on the batting above the quilt. Backstitching is not necessary.

In this image, I’m sewing the first line down the middle of the quilt, using a seam as my guide. Whether you sew right on top of the seam or next to it is your preference. I think sewing next to the seam looks better.

Ending the First Line

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Sew all the way until you are on the batting at the bottom, and then cut the thread. Raise the presser foot and pull the quilt toward you until the presser foot is on the batting at the top again. Don’t turn the quilt around and around to sew in opposite directions as this causes rippling between the lines.

Using the Edge of Your Presser Foot as a Guide

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Sew the second line to the right of your first quilting line. On this quilt, my second line was about 1/2” from the first, and I simply used the edge of my presser foot as a guide.

Always quilt to the right of the previous quilted line.

Try your best not to push or pull the quilt through the sewing machine. It’s better to hold the weight of the quilt with your hands and arms and let the sewing machine’s feed dogs pull it through at a measured pace. This gives you more even stitches.

How to Use a Guide Bar

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

To use a guide bar, slide the round end through the guide bar hole on your walking foot or sewing machine foot. Adjust the guide bar until the ‘L’ part is the appropriate distance from the needle to achieve your desired distance from the previous line of quilting. If your sewing machine foot does not have a hole for the guide bar, you can usually use masking tape to tape it to the foot.

Sew the next quilting line with the edge of your guide bar right over the previous line.

Continue Adding Quilting Lines on the Right Side of the Quilt

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

When I quilted this quilt I was really in a hurry, and I invented a new design! I decided to quilt straight lines 1/2” apart, but then I decided to skip every 3rd and 4th line, using the guide bar to help me when I wanted to sew 1 1/2” away from the previous line. I love how this one turned out!

When I was using the edge of my presser foot as a guide (for every other line), I ignored the guide bar.

Quilt to the Right Edge of the Quilt

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Continue quilting in one direction only (top to bottom) until you reach the edge of the quilt. Use the seam lines in the quilt top to help you quilt in straight lines.

Turn the Quilt Around To Continue Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

When the quilt is halfway quilted, turn it around and finish the rest of the lines working in the opposite direction. This helps to create more professional-looking quilt lines and reduce bulk in the harp space of your sewing machine. After you are finished quilting, square up the edges, bind it, and you have a beautiful new quilt!

Straight Line Quilting Design 1 – Straight Lines with Uneven Distances

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

The quilting on my Pretty Pictures Quilt is straight lines that are 1/2” apart and 1 1/2” apart. It is a fun, modern look that compliments the curved applique pieces on the quilt.

The free Pretty Pictures Quilt Pattern is ideal for fabric panels.

Straight Line Quilting Design 2 – Straight Lines 1/2” Apart

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Here is an example of straight-line quilting with the lines about 1/2” apart. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guide. Don’t stress if you wobble a little and your lines are not perfect. I think that some natural variation gives my quilts an organic feel – there’s no doubt that they are handmade, not mass-produced. I love that! If you want to mark your quilting lines, that’s also fine.

Straight Line Quilting Design 3 – Wavy Lines

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Since my Jumbo Hashtag Quilt had a lot of straight lines in the piecing (and I wanted to give it a more lighthearted feel with the quilting), I purposefully quilted a gentle wavy line all the way down the quilt – and then repeated again and again. You might think your wavy line looks weird or not right at first. When you let it blend with a whole bunch of wavy lines – they look beautiful together.

Straight Line Quilting Design 4 – Diagonal Cross Hatch Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

This Easy Baby Quilt looks beautiful with crosshatch quilting.

How to Start Diagonal Cross Hatch Quilting – Quilt One Set of Lines

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

To achieve this look, quilt the first line diagonally, sewing from corner to corner through the middle of the quilt. You will still need to roll the quilt to fit it in your sewing machine.

Continue quilting diagonal lines on your quilt until it is completely covered. I prefer lines about 2” apart. Then, turn the quilt around.

Quilt a Second Set of Lines In the Opposite Direction

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Next, turn your quilt 90 degrees and quilt down the middle from one corner to the other. The second set of lines should intersect the first set at a 90-degree angle.

Or try a different angle if you would like to crosshatch diamonds.

Continue the second set of lines until the quilt is covered.

Straight Line Quilting Design 5 – Double Diagonal Cross Hatch Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Another way to quilt a diagonal crosshatch design is to quilt two diagonal lines close together, leave a larger amount of space, and then quilt another two diagonal lines of quilting. Repeat until the quilt is covered, rotate it 90 degrees, and then quilt the second set of lines over the quilt.

Notes: I stitched in the ditch with invisible thread before quilting with diagonal crosshatch lines because I had planned to have wide distances between my crosshatching.

The Amish Star 3 Yard Quilt was quilted using a Babylock Sashiko Machine.

Straight Line Quilting Design 5 – Cross Hatch Quilting Squares

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Cross hatch quilting doesn’t have to be sewn with diagonal lines. You can start it by sewing vertical lines all over the quilt and then, horizontal. That’s what I did on my Blueberry Pie Log Cabin Quilt.

Straight Line Quilting Design 6 – Matchstick Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

Matchstick Quilting is the effect achieved when you sew straight quilting lines very close together. Here are some tips for sewing pretty matchstick quilting:

  • Begin by sewing quilted lines 1/2” apart over the entire quilt.
  • Sew down the center of your quilted lines, so that your lines are 1/4” apart.
  • Repeat sewing down the center of the quilted lines again to make lines 1/8” apart.
  • Repeat one more time if desired for lines very close together!

Straight Line Quilting Design 7 – Spiral Quilting

Photo credit: SewCanShe.com

A straight-line quilting design that may be attempted by confident quilters (even confident beginners) is a spiral. For my show quilt Reverie, I began by marking a quarter-sized circle in the center of the quilt. After I quilted around the circle, I angled my stitching outward until I had sewn 1/2” away from the circle. Then, I continued sewing in a spiral design, keeping the lines 1/2” apart by using the edge of my walking foot as a guide.

The result was stunning!

More from SewCanShe

Photo credit: Brother-usa.com.

Need a beginner sewing machine? Find the best sewing machine to suit your needs.

Secrets for Sewing Perfectly Straight

Young dressmaker woman sews clothes on sewing machine. Smiling seamstress and her hand close up in workshop. Focus on sewing machine and tissue.
Image Credit: UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Cute Things To Sew For Your Kitchen

kitchen sewing 1
Photo credit: coralandco.com.

Learn to Sew Mini Quilts!

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂