Straight-Line Machine Quilting Tips

I’ve used the walking foot attachment for years as a valuable tool to help me sew even stitches with slippery material and as a tool for machine quilting.

The walking foot is designed to push all layers of the sewing project underneath the needle at the same time. That’s a real help when there is bulk such as when machine quilting or when the top and bottom layer might want to slip such as with silk or thin cotton.

place mats with modern machine quilting
Place mats I made using Catherine Redford’s machine
quilting techniques and a walking foot.

I have done my fair share of quilting with a walking foot, and taken a number of classes from prominent quilters who showed me many tips and tricks for keeping my stitches even. Despite the experience, I gleaned even more valuable information from Catherine Redford’s video on how to machine quilt using the walking foot to create modern quilting motifs.

This Quilting Arts WorkshopTM transcends the traditional straight-line quilting presentation with lessons geared at creating the modern, spare, and fresh look of today’s quilts.

“Linear designs, grids, and gentle curves are all easy to achieve with a little practice, and I have been turning to these patterns for finishing my quilts in the past few years,” says Catherine. “With the interest in modern quilting, they are increasingly relevant and I love sharing my tricks.”

straight line machine quilting designs
You can create a variety of machine quilting designs
and patterns with straight lines and a walking foot.

Here are some of the tips she offers:

  • Make sure that seams are even and well-pressed.
  • Open seams will lay flatter, but pressing to one side makes them stronger. However you press your seams, make sure the block is completely flat with no tucks.
  • If your top “drags,” adjust your presser foot pressure. If your machine does not have this capability, alternate the direction of each sewing line.
  • Instead of marking quilting lines, choose a seam to guide the first line of stitching. Then use the edge of the walking foot from there. If the seam is incomplete, I use painter’s tape as a guide.
  • Use the edge of the foot against the painter’s tape. If you sew right next to the tape, one accidental stitch through the tape leaves the needle gummy and needing replacement.

I took Catherine’s lead and made six place mats (Amy Ellis’s designs) and tried just a few of the walking foot patterns she teaches: straight line, “plaid,” serpentine, etc. I’m so pleased with how they turned out!

You can learn how to machine quilt using a walking foot and get great results with Catherine’s easy-to-follow directions in Modern Machine Quilting: Straight Lines, Spirals, Serpentines and More..

P.S. Have you used a walking foot to machine quilt? Share your own tips with readers below.

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3 thoughts on “Straight-Line Machine Quilting Tips

  1. Yes I have. My first effort just using the foot as a guide and/or the space guide thingy that attaches to it … not that successful. My seams started to bend. I’d straighten up but before long it was veering away again. It’s not as easy as it looks. The next advice was sew in each direction, next sew all the same direction but further apart then go back into between….finally the advice that worked… place a line of tape that you work towards and orientate by measuring distances. As I said it’s not as easy as it looks but I keep trying. I love my wonky effort and no one has noticed even though I can’t help pointing it out!!!!

  2. I purchased this Quilting Arts videos and then wondered whether I had wasted my money on something that was pretty darn obvious.. I mean.. straight line quilting?…but I was wrong. Catherine’s tutorial is brilliant…it is the way she uses those straight lines and curves and spirals, by combining and altering widths apart you can create an almost endless series of designs . I have been experimenting on doll quilts and oh boy they are addictive, so much so that I have had to make myself go back to other projects that were pushed to one side. I see myself using this technique in many larger quilts. The only thing I would say is that when using my Bernina with the dual feed it really helped by lowering the presser foot pressure and I also used a guide that fits my feet but this is certainly not essential as “free handing” the lines makes for interesting texture. This is such a fun way to quilt and any machine that will take a walking foot or has one built in will add a terrific dimension to embellishing your quilts.