Machine Minute: Straight Line Quilting
Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to you by Baby Lock and the Crescendo machine. We get lots of questions about machine quilting and how to begin, and if you're not familiar with quilting and you see the term "quilt as desired," sometimes you wish you had a little more to start with. That's what we're going to talk about today. Straight line quilting is great, and often quilters learn to stitch in the ditch or in the space between the seams of the pieces of their block. But when you're ready to move beyond that, what else can you do? One basic design for straight line quilting is cross-hatching, or diagonal lines that run parallel to one another across the quilt block or all the way across the quilt top. So in my sample here, we have nine-patch blocks, and you can use this technique to diagonally stitch across a nine patch block in your quilt, or you can use it to do an entire quilt top. First and foremost, you want to get your machine set up with the very best equipment. What you start with is a walking foot. When you're doing straight line machine quilting, a walking foot will help keep the layers of your quilt (the top, the backing, and the batting) together, pulling the top layer and bottom layer evenly. That's why you want to use a walking foot. So set up your machine with the walking foot and a new needle. Treat yourself to a new needle, it really does make a difference. And I like to use an 80/12 needle. And then, 50-weight thread is a common thread that you would use for your quilting. So get your machine set up with the walking foot, the needle and the thread that you choose. And then, it's time to prepare your layers. Now, once you've got your layers basted together, whether by pin or by another method, you'll want to make a plan for how you're going to stitch across the top. And when I first saw cross-hatch quilting when I was a new quilter it looked to me like it was a simple X through the middle of every block, but I knew with machine quilting that you wanted as few starts and stops or places where you had to tie off your thread as possible. So the cross hatch is actually stitched in diagonal lines across the quilt top. I've got some printouts here that I am going to show you, and there is a downloadable PDF that you can download and print and put next to your machine as you are trying to stitch this out. But where you start, whether you're starting on a single block or across an entire quilt top, you want to start stitching at the point where you can stitch the longest diagonal line across your block or top. And in most cases, that's the middle of your quilt. So you would start stitching in one corner, and follow the direction of the arrow, you would stitch all the way down across until you got to the opposite corner of the longest diagonal line. Then, rather than tying up your thread or cutting it, you would just stitch in the ditch up one side and then begin diagonally stitching the next longest row. When you get here stop. Always stop with your needle down in the fabric and pivot your quilt top. Again stitch across the ditch here, and then continue on across the next diagonal. Needle down, pivot, stitch up the ditch so that you end up on this first pass. The first time is stopping with your needle down right here. Now don't cut your thread because the next pass we're going to do, we've stopped with our needle down and pivoted the quilt, and we're going to do the opposite longest diagonal, so we're going to stitch down this direction, pivot and go across the ditch here. At your diagonal line stop with the needle down, stitch in the ditch to the other diagonal top, and go down to here. And again, stop with your needle down. Now, the gray lines, as you'll see represent where we already quilted and the red lines are where we're going to start quilting. So on our way back, a lot of the stitching is already done but we're going to the longest diagonal line, stitching up to this point. And instead of stitching in the ditch here, we've got one block where we haven't crossed over yet, so we are going to stitch diagonally there. Then stitch in the ditch here. Stop with our needle down, and complete our pass by going in a diagonal line. Stop and pivot and complete our cross hatching. It seems a little difficult to comprehend until you start stitching it, but ultimately the goal is to not cross over any lines twice, to always stitch one pass, and when you need to travel between one X and another, stitching in the ditch or going along the side of the block out where the seam allowance would be on the edge of your quilt is more desirable than stitching two lines of stitching and one pass. Cross hatching is a great way to experiment and practice with your machine quilting, and using a walking foot will make it so much easier. Give it a try.