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Beautiful Machine Quilting Patterns for Beginners

One of the stages in the quilt-making process that many people fear is the actual quilting. The time spent at the machine sewing the quilt layers together can be daunting! Luckily there are many options for quilting, and plenty of simple designs that work well for beginners.

Beginner Quilting Examples

Here are a few beginner machine quilting patterns to get you started.

1. Straight line quilting

Straight Line Quilting

A quilt has a clean, modern feel when it is quilted with straight lines. There are many different options here! Straight lines can be stitched in all directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal). And they can be layered in a crosshatch, squares, or diamonds.

How to get perfectly straight lines

When straight line quilting, set your machine to a longer straight stitch. Mark the lines where you’ll stitch using chalk or a fabric pen and a ruler. If you don’t like marking your quilts, layer painters tape across the quilt to form your lines.

Another way to get straight lines is to use a metal guide on your machine that can be set to specific widths. Straight line quilting is done best with a walking foot, a specialty foot that feeds the fabric through the machine from both the top and bottom. Without it, the quilt sandwich is fed through unevenly and the end result will be disappointing.

2. Free-motion loops

If you would like to use free-motion quilting, loops are the easiest way to go. In this design, freehand loops are stitched across the quilt. Unlike meandering, the stitch lines are happily crossed in this pattern! This makes quilting much easier. To keep the loopy lines even, take cues from the quilt pattern. You can also use chalk or tape to create parameters for where you’d like to quilt.

3. Echo or shadow quilting

Machine Quilting Patterns

Whenever there are shapes appliquéd or pieced into the quilt top, echo or shadow quilting is a great way to highlight those objects. In this technique, a parallel line of quilting is stitched around the shape at approximately ¼”. This line is then echoed repeatedly with more parallel lines of stitching every ¼”. This creates rings that echo around the shape.

4. Stitch in the ditch

Stitch in the Ditch

This is a method that involves quilting stitches parallel to the seams in the quilt. These stitches are placed just beside the seams (approximately ⅛” – ¼”) or directly in the seams. The goal is to keep the stitches at a uniform width from the seam while also keeping them nice and straight. The stitches will not be very visible on the front, but they will show well on the back. Choose a coordinating thread to help the stitches blend into the fabric.

These are just a few simple machine quilting patterns that you can try! Make a quilt sandwich out of some fabric scraps and batting, and take some time to practice. Before long you will feel confident and be ready to quilt your own project with your machine.

FREE Guide: Don’t Fear Free Motion Quilting

FREE Guide: Don’t Fear Free Motion Quilting

Conquer your free-motion fear! Discover how to quilt on your home machine, troubleshoot common issues and achieve beautiful results.Get the FREE Guide


Ann Craig

When are we going to see a beading on quilts class?


this is awesome

Lisa Bowman

When do I sew the batting on? Do I sew it to the bottom of the quilt then sew the two parts together?


The Batting and the Backing get sewn together with the Quilt Top when you do the quilting.


Thank you for this post! It has been very helpful…I am going to try using the painters tape to do some straight line quilting. Great idea! I am very much a beginner, and have only done the stitch in the ditch or straight line quilting. I have a quilt top for my son that is “Dallas Cowboy” themed, and want to quilt star shapes on the blocks. Do I just trace a star shape onto the blocks and then quilt?? Thanks so much for your help! 🙂

karen kopchak

Is there a preferred method of top stitching for a geometric pattern quilt ?

Mary Ann P.

I have a log cabin quilt that I would like to machine quilt. What pattern should I use?


I like baptist fan or clam shells for a log cabin


why does my quilt get puffy when I quilt in the ditch?

Whitney Hasan

Your quilt may be getting puffy because your stitches are too close together. Try using a longer stitch.


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