Straight Line Quilting with Becky Alexander-Frost

| 5 min read

Hi, I’m Becky and I’m one of the guest designers here on Sewing Street.

As many of you know by now, I love quilting and bag making. Quilting has been my love since I was a child when my mom taught me the basics. There are things I now know that I wish I knew back then, but we learn from others and progress to improve our skills (I’m a firm believer we are always learning the trade). Someone has recently asked Sewing Street for them to show basic steps on straight line quilting, so I’m going to talk you through the basics of how I straight line quilt.

Things you need to know about straight line quilting

Straight line quilting is great for modern style quilts, those quilts you need to finish fast (for a gift), if you’re new to quilting, or sometimes (if like me you’ve been quilting for a long time) for those times you’re feeling lazy and want to move onto the next quilt!

The good thing about straight line quilting is you can make it as dense or sparse as you like, or even as decorative as you want.

Straight line quilting isn’t just match-stitch quilting, or rows and columns… no! It can be an echo of shapes from the beautiful patchwork blocks you have created to give your quilt a unique finish.

Let’s talk Tools you will need to get you started

By now you should have a finished quilt top and you’ve basted your quilt sandwich together. You need a few tools to help you out here. Now, these tools are what I personally use and what I feel comfortable using. Many quilters will have their own set of tools, hints and tips they use but here is my basic tool list.

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  1. A walking foot, which has a guide bar attachment. Many walking foots are different. In the image is my walking foot which is from the Elna 780+. Just make sure you are using the correct walking foot for your machine.

  2. Good size needles. I love and always use a size 90/14 universal in my sewing machine.

  3. A hera bone marking tool. There are many shapes and styles out there, but this is my go-to one in my tool bag.

  4. A large quilters ruler for making sure your lines are straight.

  5. Optional: - Quilting gloves. I use gloves for most all types of quilting and large quilts (not on small quilts as they are manageable). On larger quilts I find gloves help with my spinal problem, as they help with pain relief from my shoulders and back. Before my spinal injury I used to always wear gloves when quilting large quilts and found I never got neck or shoulder ache while quilting.

  6. This is optional and for those who want to do decorative straight-line quilting. I use a water-soluble pen marker.

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Getting started with straight line quilting

The next few basic steps are the kind of order I like to straight line quilt in: - Baste your quilt sandwich. I use 505 basting spray, I use spray baste over basting pins. But this is personally up to you. Just remember to open your windows when you’re spray basting your quilt sandwich together.

  • Mark out your straight-line quilting lines using your large quilters rule and your preferred marking tool. The marking tool can be with a hera bone marker, for those who are doing columns, match-stitching edge to edge straight line quilting.

  • If I’m doing any of the ones I’ve just mentioned, I would only do the first few lines because the guide bar on your walking foot will do the rest for you (which I will explain more in the video which runs alongside this blog).

  • If you’re doing a decorative echo row of stitches, then I personally will map out my lines with a water-soluble marker rather than using a hera bone marker.

  • Make sure you have threaded your machine with your thread, and you have installed a brand-new needle in your sewing machine.

  • Set up your sewing machines stitch length. I always use a stitch length No4. It’s always the main stitch length I use on any machine when quilting a quilt, and doing straight line quilting. The reason for a stitch length is because I love how it sits on the quilt and you can see the stitches rather than them being lost in the quilt when using a shorter stitch length.

  • So now you're ready - put on your gloves and roll up the quilt (if it’s a large quilt). Rolling up your quilt will help you get it through the throat space of the machine.

  • I always start quilting in the centre of the quilt and work my way out to the edge. Once I have come to the edge and quilted all those lines, I re-roll the quilt back up (but this time the side I have just quilted on), twist my quilt around and then start off from the centre of the quilt and work my way out to the opposite edge.

  • I personally quilt from edge to edge (but on and off the batting/wadding). So when straight line quilting, start on the outer batting/wadding, sew onto the quilt top, sew the straight line down or across to the other edge and sew right off onto the batting/wadding, then cut your thread.

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So you now know the basics of straight-line quilting! If you’d like an even more in-depth guide, click here to watch my video tutorial on Sewing Street Tutorials YouTube Channel.

In the video I will show you the following: how to mark your lines for cross hatch quilting (going from diagonal to diagonal) as this is my favourite straight-line quilting. Then I will show you the basics on how to set up your machine, and I will touch briefly on the basics of echo decorative straight-line quilting.

I really hope you have enjoyed quilting along with me and have learned at least a few things along the way.

Happy quilting Becky x

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