Walking Foot Quilting for Beginners
We are back with more walking foot quilting ideas! This week, we have picked out 3 grid based quilting designs that are perfect for the beginner quilter. If you have never quilted a quilt, or are new to walking foot quilting, choose one of these designs to get your feet wet. After you’ve practiced them, you can add on and alter them to create many different options.
First a couple tips to keep in mind for walking foot quilting:
- It’s a walking foot, don’t try to go too fast. If you do, the fabric won’t move as nicely as it should.
- Try to keep the bulk of the quilt supported on the table top or your lap as you quilt, if it’s hanging over edges, it can be hard for your feed dogs to move the quilt along smoothly.
- Increase your stitch length just a little. I normally sew using about a 2.5, but when walking foot quilting, I’ll increase it to 3.
- If you have a bar that attaches to your foot, you can use that instead of marking out the entire top.
- If crossing over stitching, put a little tension on the quilt top as you approach the stitch line to eliminate tucks.
Marking your Quilt Top
For these grid designs, you’ll first need to mark your quilt top. We like to use a butter knife to do this (there are specific marking tools you can buy as well, but we’ve found a butter knife works beautifully). Line up your ruler, and simply run the back of the knife along the edge. It will leave just enough of a mark for you to stitch along. You’ll want to mark the grid in both directions, making sure to angle your ruler to maintain 90 degree angles.
If you prefer a darker line, you can also use your favorite fabric marking pen or chalk. Just make sure to test whatever you are using first.
A couple other options for marking, you can use masking tape to create straight lines. This works nicely as you can sew on either side of the tape for a 2 in 1 mark. Another option is if you have a bar that attaches to your foot for following along your previous stitch line. If you are using one of these, you’ll just need to mark a couple rows to get your initial lines in. For the cross hatch, just mark a line down the middle in both directions. If you are doing the chevron or combo design, you’ll need to mark a couple rows in one direction and mark the opposite direction inside those lines to create a row of squares.
We always start quilting in the middle of the quilt (when we say center, we don’t mean the exact center, but the center of the edge). That way, you move any extra fabric out towards the edges where it’s easier to deal with, instead of making pockets in the center of the quilt. If you are doing a multi directional design, we sew all in one direction first, then go back and stitch in the lines in the opposite direction. The more complex the design, the more passes you may have to make. If you are doing lines closer together, it can also be helpful to stitch every other line first, then go back in and put in the rest of the lines.
The first and easiest design is a simple cross hatch. You can do this horizontally and vertically, or turn your quilt 45 degrees and stitch it angled. This design will require you to sew the lines in one direction, then go back and sew them the opposite direction. It’s very easy to change up the spacing between the lines to adapt to your desired density. Keep in mind the recommend stitch spacing of your batting and don’t go beyond that! For most quilt tops and batting types, a spacing of 1-3″ will work nicely.
Quilting chevrons does require you to change direction a little bit as you go, but it’s a slight back and forth and easy to maneuver, even on a larger top. If you are using a foot guide for this one, you’ll want to mark out your first couple rows, then switch to the guide after you’ve laid your foundation in place. Again, switch up the spacing to get your desired looked. Chevrons always look good on a quilt and will work on most any designs, modern or traditional. It’s also a great contrasting quilting motif for a quilt with lots of curves in it.
The final quilting design we are sharing today is a combo of the two. We are going to start with the same grid, but only stitch lines in one direction. After they are in, go back and put in chevrons between them. Alternate the direction of your chevrons to create diamonds with a line down the center. I really like this design for the added texture and geometric elements it adds to a quilt top. It’s perfect if you want to up your quilting game a little, without being complicated. After you get comfortable with these three designs, you can mix and match the straight lines and chevrons for lots of different end patterns.
After you conquer these designs, check our our other Walking Foot Quilting post for more fun ways to use your walking foot to finish your quilt!