The most important thing you can do when straight line quilting

by Nicole

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love my quilting lines to be straight. One of the most common quilting questions I get from people is, “How do you get your lines so straight?”

Well, dear friends, today I will let you know my secret: I mark my lines.

Yup, that’s it. Plain and simple. I have tried many different ways to do straight line quilting. I find that I have the most success when I mark my lines.

I don’t use any fancy tools, just a ruler and marker. I like a 2.5″ by 18″ quilting ruler. It’s just long enough and not too wide for marking. My favorite fabric marker is the Sewline Air Erasable Marker. Since it’s air erasable, I don’t have to worry about getting the marker out. It just disappears! I mark small sections at a time. There’s no point in marking a whole quilt at once, since it will disappear before I can stitch the marked area.

Marking lines helps me make sure that my lines are evenly spaced as I quilt.

To save time on marking, I mark every other line. Then I stitch in between the lines. In the photo above, the lines are 1/2″ apart, so stitching 1/4″ lines apart is pretty easy to gauge with my walking foot without having to mark the in between lines.

My Sewline marker works pretty well on most fabrics, except dark fabrics. For that, I use General’s Pastel Chalk pencil. It’s a white pencil that comes out with its eraser or after washing the quilt.

On this quilt, I used the chalk pencil to mark the tight curves of the denim semicircle.

Not bad, huh?

Related: 10 Tips for Trouble-Free Straight Line Quilting

So now you know the single most important thing I do when straight line quilting. Marking takes a little bit of extra time, but it beats the frustration and wasted time of ripping out uneven, wonky lines!

Nicole Neblett signoff Modern Quilting blog

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Beverley Carbray July 3, 2018 - 9:05 am

Hi Nicole! Thanks for the tips on straight line quilting. I*m new at quilting , so any tips are greatly appreciated. I love your quilt designs. They’re so original & beautiful. I*m making my first quilt for my preteen grandson who requested a denim quilt. I*m using old jeans & shirts from family & friends. It*s turning out pretty good from the comments that I receive but it*s definitely a learning process. Looking at your quilts makes me want to make & design more quilts. Thanks again!!

Nicole July 5, 2018 - 9:23 pm

Thanks, Beverley! I love to hear about new quilters who are diving right into this wonderful tradition. Keep stitching! And most of all, have fun! Pretty soon you’ll have an heirloom for your grandson.

Jayne July 3, 2018 - 9:16 am

I’ve recently started using an air erasable marker for my straight line quilting. I still have a fear of using ink on my quilts!! Most of the time I use my ruler and hera marker.

Nicole July 5, 2018 - 9:24 pm

Hi Jayne,
I know all about that ink fear! Hera markers are great too. It’s wonderful having non-permanent options for marking. Happy stitching to you!

Rosemary B July 3, 2018 - 11:50 am

Thank you for sharing this. Nicole, I always take your advice and ideas into consideration.
I have a zillion quilts on my dining room table. I have a sturdy machine “implanted” into the dining room table. It is my mother in laws solid Walnut table with leaves and oh it is pretty, we just to not “dine” in there. Anyway, one day, I have to get to work.
So, your blog is very inspiring and helpful
Stay cool and fresh and perky

Nicole July 5, 2018 - 9:33 pm

Hello Rosemary, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. It’s sounds like you’ve got plenty of stitching to keep you busy. And who needs a “dining” room table anyway? Sewing tables are much more practical, don’t you think?

patty July 12, 2018 - 9:43 am

I usually mark with a hera tool but will try out your air erasable pen recommendation. Love your quilts.

Nicole July 15, 2018 - 7:18 pm

Thanks, Patty! Hera markers are great. Although these days, my eyes need something that makes a more visible line!

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