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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Straight Line Quilting...Hints and Tips

I love straight line quilting. For me it has a clean, modern feel with a simplicity that I love. The possible combinations of straight lines are endless. Many of you have asked for information on straight line quilting, so I've put together a mini tutorial on how I straight line quilt.

I dislike marking quilts. I find that my lines are never quite where I want them to be, so my solution is painter's tape. I have it in sizes from 1/4" up to 3". You can lay sizes next to each other to make whatever distance you choose between your lines. You will also need a walking foot for your machine. The walking foot allows the top and bottom fabrics to feed evenly when you're quilting. With tape, a walking foot and your imagination, you're set to go.
The first step is to place the first piece of tape. For this little quilt I was doing random straight lines, so the placement was pretty easy. If you're crosshatching a large quilt setting that first line can be tricky unless you have another person to help. Making sure that first placement is straight is important because all the lines will build off of that first one.

I usually lay my tape approximately where I want it, then I take out any of the basting pins that are in the way. Then I have a partner (kids work well, dogs, not so much) help me place it and then I press it down securely. The low tack of the painter's tape will stick nicely, but it won't leave a residue on your quilt.
When I first started straight line quilting I sewed with the needle right next to the tape. I found that sometimes I would sew on the tape. (everyone wiggles a bit!) Then when I would move the tape for the next line the tape would rip and remain under the stitches. It's no fun to remove little bits of tape stuck under the stitches. So, now I position my walking foot like you see below with the inner edge running along the tape. This prevents any sewing over the tape and it helps keep your line perfectly straight. Sometimes when you stop to adjust your quilt your quilt will shift a bit and if you just have the needle it's hard to line up your quilt again. With that inner edge of the presser foot you can line up with the tape and keep on sewing.
This is what your line will look like after sewing.
If I was going to do a row of straight lines I would reposition my tape along the stitching line and sew again repeating the process across the quilt. You will have to replace the tape eventually when it isn't sticky enough to maintain a line.
Here are a few examples of some of the straight line quilting I have done. A large crosshatch. These lines are 3 inches apart.

Simple parallel lines. These lines are a half inch apart. Remember to start in the center and work out to the edges. For this I only used tape on the center line. Then I used the outside edge of the walking foot which gives a perfect half inch spacing.
On this quilt the lines are done perpendicular with random widths apart. I did all the vertical lines first and then added the horizontal lines. The spacing ranges from 1/2" to 2" apart.

Have fun playing with lines and if it's Thanksgiving where you are, have a great one! I'm thankful you all come to visit and comment and email. It's great getting to know you and sharing my work with you.

101 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tutorial. It came at a good time--I just finished the quilt top for a Courthouse Steps log cabin (like the yellow one in one of Kaffe Fassett's books) and was trying to think of how to quilt it. Your last photo gave me some ideas! I've been a lurker for a while and wanted to say thanks for sharing your work with me.

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  2. Funny, I was going to ask you how you did the random lines...now I know! Great timing!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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  3. great instructions!! thanks for sharing! have a fantastic thanksgiving, hugs from México!

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  4. Thanks so much for the great tutorial! I have been wondering how to make such perfect looking straight line quilting! I love the look of the diagonal lines at random widths. I'm surprised you move that one piece of tape over and over! How simple. I was thinking you'd have to mark all your lines ahead of time and that seemed overwhelming.

    Thanks again for taking the time to post this tutorial. I can't wait to quilt my next project (crazy nine patch!).

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  5. I did some free motion on a table runner. Okay! But the matching topper, well, I agree. Less is more and I actually quite like straight lines. I should lay in the painters tapes though. You have confirmed my inclinations! Thanks.

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  6. Ah, painter's tape. It really does work wonders.

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  7. Thank you so much! This comes at a perfect time for me - I can't free motion quilt (yet!) and I've been pretty discouraged about how my straight line quilting has been turning out. But you mentioned a few things that I've been doing wrong, so thanks! Can't wait to use your tips and see if there is hope for me after all!

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  8. I've actually been stippling almost all my quilts and promised myself I'd start doing more straight line quilting. I'll try the tape next time... I've not used that method before and perhaps that's why I hate doing straight line so much hehe

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  9. I like your method, and your tutorial is so straightforward and clear. I thought that maybe I was the only one who likes the simple lines. I guess I would like to be better at the free-motion quilting, but your ideas really are right up my alley.
    Thanks!

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  10. I don't like marking my quilts either, and try as I might those marking tool things just don't seem to work for me, so I'm a big fan of tape. But I have never seen in different colours - only regular off white/cream. (is it really possible to get excited about different coloured tapes? Seems it is)

    Everything you create makes me smile - you're so talented!

    Have great thanksgiving - I'm thankful that the internet exists, without it I would never have gotten in to quilting, and I can't imagine life without it now!

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  11. This is the best idea! Thanks for the tutorial. I am new to quilting and this is something I will try for sure!!

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  12. Thank you for the timely tips! I'm finishing up a back for a quilt that I'm going to straight line quilt right now.

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  13. Thank you so much for the tutorial. It took some time to post and I so appreciate it!! Love your blog! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  14. This is terrific! I do have a question though....I always begin my quilting in the center and work out ( I've never done straight line quilting before) So with this method how do you decide where you will start? I think I'd like to do some straight line quilting and then do a a little free motion inside a few of them.

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  15. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Thank you for these great tips and tricks for quilting, I can't wait to try them. I like straight line quilting, but don't like the leftover markings...
    Just finished a not-so-straight-line quilting, without pre-marking anything.

    And your little houses area adorable, just love them!

    ; )

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  16. I have painters tape in 3 sizes. On two of my lap sized quilts, I've been able to do softly curved lines all the way from end to end. It's a really nice look.

    I run the tape in the best curve I can get from the top left corner to the lower right - I stitch on both sides of the tape. (I used 2" tape for this)

    Then I come back to my table and move the tape (or a new piece) 3" away from the last stitching line; and stitch on both sides again.

    I move from the center curve to one side, all the way, and then to the other, all the way.

    Of course, the lines get shorter and shorter.

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  17. i love straight line quilting too, but I guess I'm not patient enough for it. I need to do it more often...I love your quilts.

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  18. Thanks for the tutorial! I love straight line quilting and have tried it several times. My problem always is that if I start in the middle and work on one side - let's say I go from top to bottom the whole time - the quilt top shifts (pulls down) more and more with each straight line. (Even when I use a walking foot). Then when I flip it over to do the other side - the same thing happens but in the opposite direction. So it looks all shifty and the quilt front isn't straight. I'm not sure if that makes any sense. But I did wonder if you take turns on each line for which side you start on. Example: start line 1 on top, start line 2 on bottom, line 3 on top and so on?

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  19. Hey! this is exactly what I need! The tape is on, I will quilt next week when I return home, BUT, I would have been right up against the side of the tape! Thank You!!

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  20. Wow, thanks for the tips. Looks interesting. Will have to try it sometime. I'm kinda enjoying free motion quilting right now, but can definitely see where this straight line quilting would be good.

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  21. Thanks for the great suggestions on straight line quilting...your blog is one of the first I began to read...started with the redwork quilt in red, agua and white...you donated it to your church, I believe...I didn't win!!! Anyway, been hooked on your blog ever since. Love your quilts...I have to make a clothsline quilt realllly soon! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  22. Thanks so much for the tips. You have totally convinced me to do straight line quilting. I used to do in the ditch and that is so hard to do with the machine, if you get off one thread it looks awful. The last two I did I used your ideas and I love it.

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  23. Thanks for the tips! Anything to make the process easier and faster :)

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  24. Thank you for the tape tip!! I am a straight line quilter, and I always spend enormous amounts of time marking all my lines with chalk or my impression tool.....I never thought of tape, my life was just lengthened with lots of time saved!!

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  25. It is so generous of you to take the time to take such good photos and give all these very useful tips. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
    Have a great Thanksgiving.

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  26. thanks for the tips! I'm just about to start my youngest daughter's quilt for Christmas. I'm hoping I do a better job this time around. When you say work from the center out is that in both directions? Do you start sewing in the middle of the quilt? (I guess my question is the same as Leigh's comment above) sorry I know next to nothing about quilting, but I do know that I love it and your work!

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  27. thank you for the tute! It will be very helpful with my next couple of UFOs which I plan on doing straightline quilting on. I've been doing a lot of free motion lately, and its time for a change!

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  28. That's very helpful, thank you!

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  29. Brilliant! I've used painters tape, but not over and over and over making lines perfect. I always thought that you could just basically "wing it" and your quilt would still have that contemporary look. I like your method so much better!

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  30. I'm brand new to quilting - in fact I'm still shopping for fabrics to use after I'm done with my Christmas sewing. Using tape to start makes sense to me, but I have one of those doohickeys - quilting arm? guide? - that you attach to the machine to guide your stitching. From the comments, it doesn't sound like anyone uses them? Do they not work very well? I'd like to know that before I try using it! I wonder why you wouldn't use one after the first line is there on the quilt.

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  31. Thanks for the great ideas. For some reason my machine does not like it when I drop the feed dogs (tension goes out the window) and I was getting stuck in a rut with my straight line quilting. Do you think my husband would look at me strangely if I asked him to get me some of the tape for Christmas?

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  32. I've used painters tape too!! thought I was so smart.;)
    Love all your quilts. Have a great thanksgiving!

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  33. I have to echo another blogger--I am so thankful for the brain trust of quilters! I have learned much more from blogs than I did from year of attending guild meetings! (Not that I have given up guild meetings)

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  34. Thanks for this tutorial. I have several quilts I'd like to use this technique on and you've given me the tools I need to try straight-line quilting.

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  35. Thanks for the great tip. My Mum does the drawing on the quilt thing but I will let her know of this and I just know she will be thrilled. I may even buy a whole heap of painters tape for her Christams present!! (he, he).

    Happy Thanksgiving (even though we don't celebrate it here in Australia!).

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  36. Great tutorial.
    Thanks.
    ANdi :-)

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  37. Fantastic hints Jacquie. I think I have made so many mistakes trying to do things quickly, but with just a little time and tape you can have perfect quilting!

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  38. What a great tutorial Jacquie! I've always been very comfortable with straight line quilting, but felt sometimes it was thought to be a novice approach. But your work shows me it's just as modern as those fancy loops I have such trouble with (LOL). Have a good Thanksgiving, my friend.

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  39. Thank you. Looking forward to using your technique with a baby quilt i'm working on.

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  40. Thank you for the tutorial. I'm always grateful for the teaching that you do on your blog.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  41. Thank you so much! This is great information. Wondering why you reposition the tape and then sew again. Why not just tape the whole quilt and then sew it all?? Pulling the tape off of what you have just sewn. Just wondering since I have never done this.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  42. Thanks for sharing the "secret" :)
    Happy thanksgiving, Jacquie!

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  43. Thanks for the wonderful mini tutorial Jacquie! Happy Thanksgiving.

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  44. Fabulous tute, Jacquie!! Thanks so much!

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  45. Great tute it was just what I needed. I've been struggling with quilting right now for some reason. I hate to take the time to mark my quilts and the tape looks a lot easier. Thanks so much Cynthia

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  46. Thanks for the tutorial, the painter's tape is a great tip! I'm in Canada, so our Thanksgiving was last month, but Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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  47. Now I need to run out and get me some painters tape in all sizes. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving too!

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  48. What a great tip! I'm going to try this on the next quilt I make!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

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  49. Thank you. That was really helpful.

    Debbie

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  50. Great tips - thanks for sharing! I esp. love the last one with random widths. I will definitely be stealing that idea soon! : )

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  51. I'm a huge fan of the straight line. Partially because I've never found the time to learn to free motion. I need to get on that!

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  52. This is great Jacquie. I need to think straight line quilting through more... I struggle with the lack of crinkle I get after a wash when I use it. So I often just turn to free motion. Hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

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  53. How very clever with the painter's tape! Thanks for the tip! I've never seen it in blue before! We only have it in white.

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  54. Thank you for the ideas for quilting

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  55. I use tape for straight line quilting too. It is so much faster than marking (not that I would have tried that because it sounded like to much work). Love this tutorial and the finished straight line quilted projects you show.

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  56. This thanksgiving your blog is one of the new things on my list of things for which I'm grateful. I've been reading since late winter & am regularly inspired and delighted - thanks so much for sharing!

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  57. Thanks! I don't have a walking foot yet, but have told my husband that is what he is getting me for Christmas.

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  58. Your timing is incredible! I was just hopping on line to look at some of my favorite bloggers quilting. I am making a runner for a gift exchange and I am going to use straight lines. Now I am all set! Thank you for continuously keeping me inspired.

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  59. Thanks so much for such a simple tutorial - I am a beginner and I will definitely use this method - whoops - gotta go - have to go to get the tape!! regards Debi

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  60. Thank you for the great tutorial, Jacquie - I've been putting off trying straight line quilting because it seemed too hard. Now I feel more empowered to get the tools I need to accomplish beautiful quilting lines! We all appreciate your generosity in sharing your vast knowledge ~

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  61. You were reading my mind Jacquie! When I posted my project improv quilt on flickr, I asked the question how to get straight lines when doing lattice quilting around other quilted objects. I remembered your tip about the painter's tape from a year or so ago and have some but just couldn't get the placement down. And since I was in get er done mode and not wanting to stop and replace the tape each time, I just went with it. It didn't turn out perfect, but it's mine! And i love it anyway. Next time I'll get in the right frame of mind and use the painter's tape. And I suppose starting through the middle-ish part of the quilt would be the way to go. I started on a corner and I think that's where my troubles began! Thanks for posting this!

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  62. you are the queen of straight line quilting! Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I will definitely try allowing for space next to painters tape when I work on my next straight line project.

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  63. I've been using masking tape, but I probably should switch to painters tape. Thanks for the tutorial, and the reminder that straight lines can be sewn lots of different ways!

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  64. hmmm tape's a good idea, I might try that when marking my next big quilt as the double yardsticks always move on me.

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  65. Thanks for the tutorial. It came at a good time I have 2 quilts to do by Christmas and now I know how to do them. Well I'm off to buy some tape. Thanks for taking the time to help us all out.

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  66. you do straight line quilting so well!!!

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  67. So smart. So so so smart. And your quilting is always fabulous. I have to tell you I ended up putting my clothesline wall hanging I won from you in my bathroom. Crazy place but the bathroom is pink and green and it went so well there. And nothing was on the walls. So yeah. I think of you often! ;-) It is so cute, whenever anyone goes in there they comment and love it too.

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  68. Quilters tape... why didn't I think of that? Awesome idea, thanks for sharing!

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  69. Thank you for your BRILLIANCE!!!!!!

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  70. fab idea!!! Just in time for my quilt!

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  71. thanks for the tip.. i can so use this!!

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  72. Thanks for the great tutorial!

    I had heard of using tape to stick down a quilt top to the floor before basting, but this idea makes me think it should be called quilter's tape rather than painter's tape!

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  73. It was soooo neat to see the straight lines..... quiltin makes the quilt!

    I have a quilt guild and quilt study group... I'll share your tips if it's ok with you...

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  74. Thanks for this tute/info! It will come in very handy! 8-)

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  75. This is Genius!!! Thanks for the tutorial. Being a new comer to quilting this will really come in handy. thanks again! :)

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  76. I love the look of straight line quilting. I especially appreciate the tip about not stitching along the tape, but using the inside of the walking foot as a guide. That tip alone will save me much grief. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this tutorial.

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  77. wow - I looove this tip/trick. so excited to try it out!

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  78. I just found this great tutorial. I can't thank you enough. I am a straight line quilter but usually "in the ditch." This painter's tape will open up a whole new world for me. Can't wait to try it.

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  79. Thanks for this good idea, and the tutorial.
    Rose

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  80. Getting ready to quilt my very first bed sized quilt, I have a question. Sometimes I see mention of the importance of starting quilting in the center and working out to the edges (like in your tutorial above) but what if you are doing it with the painter's tape like you mention, wouldn't you go from edge to edge?? Is starting in the center only for straight lines (as opposed to diagonals)? I'm confused!

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

    Heather

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  81. hey heather,
    you have a no reply comment, so i'll answer your question here and hope you see it. You can go from edge to edge if you like. An advantage of starting in the center and working out is that you only have to deal with 1/2 of the bulk of the quilt at a time. It's much easier to keep stitches even without so much weight pulling on the quilt. Hope this helps,
    Jacquie

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  82. I just came across your tutorial and thank you for doing it. I am a hand quilter but recently I decided to try a little machine quilting on a few quilts. I do not care for the all over stipple kind of thing but love the straight line look which seems to complement the designs better in my opinion.
    Karen
    http://karensquilting.com/blog/

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  83. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I'm just about to finish my first quilt top and wanted to straight line quilt it et voila, here's a fab tutorial!!

    Tabatha

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  84. Thanks so much for sharing this! I was thinking of marking my quilts..but it's very time consuming and doesn't come out perfect. Your idea is genius, I'm off to raid my drawer for masking tape :)

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  85. jacquie, thanks for the great tutorial. i haven't really quilted in ages (though somehow my stash has continued to grow and grow!) and now need to quilt the quilt i just finished piecing for my nieces fall baby (i've adapted 'pick up sticks' from quilting home). i was really anxious about the quilting but now - just need to go buy the painters tape (since my husband is currently painting the house, i doubt there is extra! he uses a lot!).

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  86. Oh for pete's sake!! I always end up stitching on the tape--but never thought of lining up the edge of the foot with tape instead of the needle--you are a genius! Thanks!

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  87. Thanks for the tips! I just made a new quilt for my bed, and the painter's tape worked perfectly for making straight, even lines.

    http://prettyladydesigns.blogspot.com/2011/10/finished-quilt.html

    I linked back to this page to give credit where it's due! Thanks again!

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  88. What a great tip! Just finished a top abd will try your method. Thanks!

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  89. I love the painters tape idea. Question for anyone. Can a basting gun work as well as using pins? I am new to quilting and getting started. Thanks for everyone's generosity.

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  90. I used to use tape then stopped, why I'm not sure. I especially like the random lines on your quilts. They are beautiful!! Thank you for helping me quilt.

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  91. This is absolutely genius!!! I use painter's tape when pinning a quilt, but NEVER thought about using it for this! Great timing for my upcoming quilt! i can't wait to use your idea! I pinned this on Pinterest and linked back to this page on my blog. I'm so glad you posted this! My youngest son heard me tell my husband I needed to get some thinner painter's tape and he actually thought I said Pinterest Tape!!! :~)

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  92. Wow!!! That is so smart, wish I'd thought of it. Thank you so much. I needed this for Christmas, so thank you again and have a safe and happy Christmas.

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  93. Thanks to your pictures, I figured out how to put my foot on the machine - came with no directions. Thank you.

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  94. So good to know. Thanks for the tips.

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  95. Thank you so much for all your help. I love this. I have been making baby blankets for years for my Grandkids. But I started making bigger blankets and my first one came out a little bit lopsided. lol. Now I can finish my other blankets I have started. I have a Singer that my Daughter gave me before she passed away. Now I can finish her blanket using your painter tape lines.
    Thank you and God bless you and your family.
    Norma Munguia
    from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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  96. Thank you for such a clear tutorial, I have cross hatched a border once and completely forgotten how I did it! I love the idea of the edge of the presser foot because I know I have stitched down painter's tape when I got tired before, so I am going to try this. I only just started following your blog so it was a no-brainer to go to your site when I google searched cross-hatching on a machine.Thanks for sharing.

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  97. I like the idea of this method, but beware hand-quilters who prefer to quilt with out a hoop/frame - this did not work for me. I think it's because when you quilt without a frame the material moves around more, and when you slap on some tape it immobilizes part of the fabric creating unnatural bunching. Obviously when you're machine quilting or quilting with a large frame you're not bending and grasping the fabric like your do when you quilt on your lap without any of that stuff.

    That being said, it did help me create ultra straight lines, which I loved. Now I'm trying Gold Dial soap to mark the quilt, as chalk marks were too faint and rubbed off too easily.

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  98. Jacquie, wow where have you been, just stumbled across your quilting with walking foot class on crafty, and checked you out on the web, and voila no more torture with FMQ. Brilliant work

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So, what are you thinking? (please don't put links in your comments...the spam police like to grab them and hide them away! if you want to share a link, feel free to email me.