top of page

How to do straight line machine quilting on your home machine

Straight line machine quilting is easy for quilters creating less positioning and moving around of the quilt top on small throated traditional home quilting machines.

It quilts up fast covering larger areas with beautiful texture of light and shadow.

Straight line quilting works well with many styles of quilts and with repeating thread paths visually goes to the background featuring your piecing.

Plus, it means less thread color changes once you decide on the overall look for your quilt.

Straight line machine quilting class sample by Sally Terry
Use the decorative stitches on your tradition home machine for beautiful straight line pattern designs.

Before you start straight line quilting you would decide two things:

- the style foot you want to use for more accurate quiting and straighter lines

- how to mark your fabric and how to follow the lines


  1. regular sewing foot

  2. stitch-in-the-ditch foot

  3. quarter inch foot with an extended blade on the side

  4. walking foot

  5. extension guide with regular foot or walking foot

  6. engage intergrated feed

  7. parallel foot

  8. ruler foot for long arm and traditional home machine

Straight line snap on machine quilting foot with parallel line guides for varying thread path distances.
Straight line snap on machine quilting foot with parallel line guides for varying thread path distances.


  1. follow piecing lines of quilt top and use a regular repeat or varied width repeat

  2. divide up quilt top into smaller areas and change directions

  3. mark a few lines and follow with foot gauging distance and repeat

  4. use stencils to mark accurate line

Custom ruler work traight line quilting by long arm
Custom ruler work straight line quilting by long arm


  1. When you machine quilt straight lines following the piecing lines you are actually basting your quilt top. Stitch in several areas to stabilize your quilt. It is not necessary to quilt the entire area at a time, just enough to secure it. Then go back and complete the area.

  2. For traditional home sewing machines try to stitch in opposite directions every other stitching line. This prevents the quilt fabric from drawing up and forming ripples between the thread paths.

  3. For long arm machines stitch in one direction throughout. This pushes the layers in one direction and makes for a smoother surface as the air and fullness goes out to a raw edge.

  4. To take up fullness in smaller areas start from the outside and work your way in toward the center. This adds additional interest and another design element. Remember to do it several times to keep the overall density even and your quilt squared up which means you don't have to block your quilt.

What ever you decide to do be consistent.

Being consistent when doing straight line quilting is the key to the play of light and shadow.

If your thread paths wobble, then they could all wobble and still give you the same overall of consistency with great results.


"if you can't be consistent, be consistently inconsistent"

Have fun quilting, and get those quilty projects completed.

Yours in the love of quilting,



bottom of page