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Quilting Motif 16 - Straight Lines

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

As we near the end of the Nothing but Love quilt - it's time to get back to the basics with the quilting designs. Today's lesson is STRAIGHT LINES - don't let the name fool you - there is alot of great texture and fun variations with this one to really make your quilts POP!

So I was going to call this motif parallel lines, but let's face it...I like to go askew quite often. It's amazing how much the eye is drawn to the different linear patterns! I hope you can see how it adds so much visual interest and texture to a quilt!

Happily we are ending our heart sampler quilt, Nothing but Love, with a four patch so I can show you 4 fun options!

Two of these options use your walking foot and 2 options use your free-motion foot, so pick your path (or foot) and let's get stitching!

This Foot is Made for Walking

The walking foot provides more machine regulation for making straight lines - like the stitch length, speed, and feed dog guidance of your fabric. This makes it easier for a novice quilter to make some great designs and lovely patterns on quilted goodies.

You would be correct in thinking we have done several straight line motifs, Grids and the Asterisk for example. But this time we are keeping them mostly parallel.

This can be matchstick quilting where the lines are 1/8 inch apart or less to wide channels of 1 inch or more (depending on your batting requirements). This process can be very precise with measuring and marking or rulers or more free-style, but remember if you prefer less measuring than you have to be happy with the result even if it's not quite straight.

Here is my process and a few tips:

1) Decide which direction you are going - vertical or horizontal (or even diagonal). Then pick out or mark with a ruler a straight line in the center of your desired quilting area. This is your registration line. It should be related to a seam or other straight line on your quilted project (mine was the center seam above). All of your future lines will be based off this line, so make sure you are happy with it.

*In case I haven't mentioned this before, I also like to lengthen my stitch just a bit when I quilt with my walking foot. Iset it on 3.0 which is about 8-10 stitches per inch.

2 ) Decide the increment - this is the space between the lines. You can measure and mark these off with the ruler (if you like) either by drawing a full line OR drawing a few little marks along the line so when you sew you are connecting the marks.

*If you want to do tiny matchstick quilting, it is better to start with marking 1/2 inch lines, and then after stitching all of them, go back and divide that space in half for 1/4", stitch, and then repeat for 1/8" if desired.

3) Sew parallel lines on your marked lines or use the marks on your walking foot to hold you onto the registration line or previously stitched lines as you proceed. I usually sew from one side of the quilt to the other (off the edge), cut, and start again. If you don't want to cut thread or you can't because you are in the block, then at the stopping point just pivot, sew that edge to travel, and then pivot again to sew the next line in the opposite direction.

*For an additional fun look, you can use varying increments between the lines.

For the skewed lines, the only real rule is to keep them straight, but not parallel. Basically I sew a straight-ish line and then I sew several that are noticeably slanted.

In the above sample, I did not cross any of the lines, however you totally can! In the sample below I did just that - skewed intersecting lines.

Free-motion Lines = No Stops

Here you can see that I made lots of mostly straight and mostly parallel lines that NEVER end. The main difference with these lines is the curve at each end to switch directions and go on to the next line. It is very much like driving a car on a very curvy highway LOL! Since you are using your free-motion foot you can stitch these in whichever direction you feel most comfortable - top to bottom or right to left. If it is very important to you to have straight, smooth lines then I suggest using a quilting ruler and foot.

*My one tip, sew at a medium speed for your lines and make your curves wide enough to make your lines parallel and not pointy at each end.

I love using this stitch in borders and as filler between rounded designs like swirls because you can adjust the height and angle very easily, so it is great for going around the corners! Look closely at the photo below to see this border treatment.

See how I nestle it up against the swirls and shapes in the center, and the more triangular corner sections definitely keep your eye focused on the center.

Last but not least is the continuous parallel line in a grid-like pattern. This would be super cute in a nine-patch block! It looks pretty difficult, but it really is not once you know how to make it.

Step 1: It all starts with marking a grid with your favorite temporary marking pen. I made mine with 2 inch squares starting at the seam not the block edge (because there is an extra 1/4 inch for the edge seam allowance).

*Tip one is to watch your edges. I try to stop and curve at least 1/4 inch away from the edge.

Step 2: Then starting off the edge of your block, go slowly over onto the block and down in a straight line until you are ready to stop and turn the other direction. Then make a slow wide curve and go back up. Remember you are using the free-motion so you can make tight curves and not spin your block to do this. When you get to the edge of your grid mark (at the top or bottom) get ready to switch directions. When you cross over your marked line continue the same design, but this time going horizontally. (See photos below)

*Tip two is to make sure you end where you want/need to be to start the next block. For example, in the photo above, you need to end the horizontal section on the right side so you can complete the third block section going vertically.

Step 3: Continue filling in your marked grids changing the line direction in alternating blocks. Since there is an odd number of rows, this means you will end in the center of the block instead of the edge. You can either leave long tails tie a knot, and bury it, OR you can travel along your seam line all the way back off the edge of the block.

*FYI - the starting and stopping off the edge of your block means your thread will be "locked" by the stitching together of the blocks and the attachment of the binding. The reason there is not alot of start/stop lock stitching in quilting is because quite often we stitch right over previous stitch lines which "locks" them.

When you're done stitching, iron or mist your lines away and admire your stitching! I know you did a super fabulous job!!

Remember you don't have to do ALL 4 design options on your block. You can choose one option for the whole block or choose two options and stitch them in the similarly colored patches. Make your design original!

If you're just dropping in and want to see more quilting designs, here are the links and topics we used during our quilt along. If you'd like to make the Nothing but Love heart sampler quilt, then all the free block patterns are on my blog as well.

If you are just joining in, here are the links to all the quilting designs we've covered so far in the Nothing but Love Quilt Along:

January 24 – Affection/GRIDS Quilting Motif 1 - Grids (

February 7 – Refuge/OUTLINING Quilting Motif 2 - Outlines (

February 21 – Joyful/SQUIGGLES Quilting Motif 3 - Squiggles (

March 21 – Devotion/PUMPKIN SEEDS Quilting Motif 5 - Pumpkin Seeds (

April 4 – Inspiration/WAVY LINES Quilting Motif #6 - Wavy Lines (

May 2 – Admiration/FRACTURED SPIRAL Quilting Motif 8 - Fractured Spiral (

May 16 – Infatuation/SCALLOPS Quilting Motif 9 - Scallops (

July 11 – Patience/PEARLS ON A STRING Quilting Motif 13 - Pearls on a String (


We have one more quilting lesson left for this quilt along, but there will definitely be more. I sincerely hope that you are finding these posts helpful, fun, and inspiring!

I would love to hear about and see your progress - post comments here and quilt pictures/posts on social media with any of these tags #nothingbutloveqal #quiltingstraightlines #polkadotpeepdesigns or tag me @polkadotpeepquiltsetc on Facebook or Instagram.

Have questions or need more details/info? Please leave a message below.

Until next time, have a great time zooming down the quilt-y highway! Next week we will be finishing up the borders for our quilt!

Be blessed,


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