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4 Methods to Mark Perfectly Straight Lines for Quilting

If you love the look of straight-line quilting but doubt your ability to stitch straight, crisp lines, we’re here to help! All you need to know is how to mark lines for straight-line quilting.

mark straight lines for quilting

Straight-line quilting is a great way to finish off a quilt. Like anything thing else, straight line quilting takes some practice to well, get those lines straight!

Read on to see four commons ways to mark your quilt for straight-line quilting.

I’ve listed them in the order of my least favorite method to most favorite method.  I have used all of these techniques in the past with success.

1. Mark straight lines using tape

This is one of the early straight-line quilting marking methods I used.

mark straight lines for quilting with tape

In this method, you use long pieces of tape to mark the straight lines, using a ruler as a guide. Then, use the tape as a guide as you quilt along the edge of it. Use painters tape, masking tape or even packing tape. Re-use the same strip several times.

Depending on what kind of tape you use, this isn’t always the best method. If the tape doesn’t adhere to the fabric well enough, it can move around a bit. Marking straight lines using tape is best reserved for smaller projects, such as mini quilts or baby quilts.

2. Mark straight lines using a fabric pen

I do use fabric pens to mark straight lines — or any quilting lines for that matter — occasionally.

mark straight lines for quilting

You do need to use caution when marking your fabrics with fabric pens. Some fabric pens will leave long-term marks on fabrics. Always test the pen on the fabric before going ahead with all of your lines. Some fabric pens fade on their own, others use heat to erase and still others erase using cool water. Make sure you know how to make yours disappear!

To use a fabric pen, simple draw the lines using your ruler to keep them straight. Quilt your lines right on top of the marked line. 

3. Mark straight lines using a Hera Marker

Marking straight lines with a Hera Marker is one of my favorite straight-line techniques! A Hera Marker is a piece of sturdy plastic that you can use to create temporary creases in your fabric.

mark straight lines for quilting

The Hera Marker will not leave long-term marking, like a pen might. Hera Markers are inexpensive and easy to use.

Using your ruler as a guide, press the Hera Marker along the side of the ruler. Use a decent amount of pressure to mark your lines. Also, make sure you’re on a nice flat surface such as a table, hard floor or cutting mat. The Hera Marker will not work well on softer surfaces such as carpet.  It’s easier to mark these lines in natural light so you can clearly see them.

I usually mark my entire quilt at once and then quilt it by stitching right in the indented lines. I’ve found that these indents stay in place for quite some time. if you are not quilting immediately.

4. Mark straight lines using your walking foot guide

mark straight lines for quilting

Using a walking foot guide is my favorite way to straight-line quilt. The guide slips into the walking foot and you can adjust it to the width of your lines. 

I find the walking foot guide to be the most accurate way to straight-line quilt. Here’s how it works:

Stitch your first straight line using either the edge of the quilt top or a line of seams as your guide. Once your first line is quilted, use that line as the new guide. Repeat all the way through your quilt.  

Beware, though, that these guides have a tendency to break off easily on some walking foot models. When this happens, simply tape the walking foot guide on to the walking foot itself at the desired width.

mark straight lines for quilting

I hope you find this helpful in deciding how to mark your lines for your next straight-line quilting project. These methods are not fool-proof and like anything else, getting straight even lines takes practice! Find a method that works for you and have fun quilting!

7 Comments

Amy

These are the kind of articles that SEEM like they should be helpful but actually aren’t at all. Who needs help marking straight lines on a 10″ square? The real challenge is making a straight line when you’ve got a king size quilt. This article is useless in that regard.

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Nana Jean

Thank you. Contrary to other posts I found this to be very helpful. I’m relatively new to the quilting world and I’ve struggled with this very subject. Can’t wait to try the walking foot guide. I have one in my machine parts but the manual never explained exactly what it was and how to use it.

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Sandra

An excellent article for beginners. I have never heard of the hera marker, such a good idea. Thank you.

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Donna Harris

Thank you for these tips, Craftsy! You can never get too much help!

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Carolee

I’m experienced and still like to read your tips. Never hurts to learn some new tips. If one doesn’t find them helpful, move on. No need for negativity. These articles are great for those who are new to quilting or not as experienced as some. I believe the 10” squares are to show the reader a sample. You can use the method on any size you wish.

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Randi

Thank youfor thinking of us who are learning—glad to be reminded of things I read before but have forgotten. I needed this.

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Cherie

Thank you! I’m working on a baby quilt and you gave me many ideas about how to machine quilt it. I appreciate it so much!

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