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7 great tips for straight line quilting

by Christine Baker

There are many benefits to quilting in straight lines or slightly wavy ones. The first is that it’s a great way to start doing your own machine quilting as it’s far less intimidating than free motion quilting. It also looks great on lots of different styles of quilts – so it’s very versatile. First we’re going to finish putting our table runner top together and then we’ll get to the quilting part and I’ll share with you 7 great tips for straight line quilting.

Trimming the strip sets

Now that your Drunkard’s Path blocks are completed, measure one across the middle and trim your strip sets this exact width. Your Drunkard’s path blocks should measure 7 1/2″, so if they do, trim your strip set so that they’re 4 1/2″ x 7 1/2″. If your blocks are a bit bigger or smaller, trim the strip sets to the width that you need.

Trimming the strip sets

Adding the short sashing strips

Cut your sashing fabric into two strips 1 1/2″ x WOF (width of fabric). From these, cut four strips that are  1 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ (or whatever measurement you got when you measured your Drunkard’s Path blocks.

Sew one of each of these strips to one of the Drunkard’s Path blocks, then sew one of your strips sets to the other side of the sashing strip. Press towards the sashing strip.

Adding the short sashing strips

Adding the long sashing strips

Measure the length of one of these units and cut your sashing fabric into three strips 1 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ (or whatever measurement you got).

Sew one of these strips to one of the units then sew another unit (rotated as shown) to the other side of the sashing strip. Press towards the sashing strip.

Repeat with the other two sashing strips and Drunkard’s Path units.

Adding the borders

Cut your sashing/border fabric into three strips 2″ x WOF. Cut two end borders the width of your table runner. Sew onto the ends and press. Cut two side borders the length of your table runner. Sew onto each side and press.

The finished table runner top

7 great tips for straight line quilting

Tip #1 – For perfectly straight lines there is no substitute for marking. 

There are MANY different ways to mark your quilt top. From chalk pencils and mechanical pencils to the new Frixion gel pens you have lots to choose from. I hardly ever mark my quilts, and for this project I’m going to quilt wavy lines, so I won’t be doing any marking today, but if you like to mark and want perfectly straight lines, then grab your favorite tool and mark away!

How to use the Frixion Ball Gel Pen by Pilot for Quilting – Fat Quarter Shop – YouTube

Website: http://fatquartershop.com

Tip #2 – Basting is essential

Whatever method you choose, you NEED to baste any quilt that you will be quilting. For small projects like this table runner I like 505 Basting Spray, but for larger projects I would use basting pins. When you baste your quilt, make sure the backing is smooth and taut.

Spray basting the quilt sandwich

Selecting thread for the quilting

Tip #3 – Always adjust your tension on a quilt sandwich first

No matter what type of machine quilting you’re doing, you’ll need to adjust the top tension to ensure that you don’t have bobbin thread coming up to the top or top thread being pulled to the back.

Always make this adjustment on a practice quilt sandwich BEFORE starting to quilt your project.

In the picture below, you can see the top thread being pulled to the back. In the third row the tension is perfect.

The back of the tension testing sandwich

Tip #4: Use a walking foot

A walking foot helps to feed the three layers of the quilt evenly through the machine and will help to prevent the layers from shifting.

Machine quilting in wavy lines

Tip #5: Use an extension table

Using an extension table on your sewing machine helps to support the weight of the quilt so that you can lay it flat while you quilt and keeps the weight of the quilt from pulling it to the left while straight line or free motion quilting. 

Tip #6 – Start in the center of the quilt and work your way out

Put your first quilting line down the center of the quilt and then quilt your next line to the right of the first line. You can either work your way out to the edges by quilting all of the right side of the quilt first then turning it around and doing the left side or you can alternate by quilting one line down the right, then the one down the left etc… until you reached both sides.

Tip #7 – Practice, practice, practice!

Nothing will help you to become a better quilter than quilting!! Practice really does make perfect, so whether you are quilting straight lines or doing free motion quilting, the more you do it, the better you’ll become.

Just relax and take your time! And don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re probably your own worst critic.

The quilting makes the quilt

You’ve probably heard that saying before and I do think that it’s true! Quilts come to life when they are quilted. So as you finish up the quilting on your table runner I hope that you’ll find that these 7 great tips for straight line quilting are helpful – tomorrow we’ll be adding the final touches to our quilted table runner.

Closeup of the machine quilting

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