Matchstick lines are straight vertical lines on steroids.
Matchstick quilting involves parallel straight lines very close together. This design adds a lot of texture as well as colour.
Things to consider
There are only a few design variations for matchstick quilting, but there are other things to consider before you start.
1. All over matchstick or just partial?
Matchstick quilting doesn’t have to be an entire quilt commitment. You can use it all over or just in certain sections of the quilt.
2. Do I have enough time?
Matchstick quilting takes a lot of time, so if you are on a deadline, you might want another design,
3. Do I have enough thread?
This is something people often don’t think of, but matchstick quilting takes a LOT of thread. Depending on your choice, this can also be expensive.
4. Do I want design or just texture?
Matchstick quilting is an interesting design because it adds a lot of texture. Something surprising about this design is that the more dense it is, the more the stitching lines fade into the background. The fewer stitching lines, the more they stand out.
If a quilt is heavily and densely quilted with close lines, they are less noticeable.
Check out Getting Started with Simple Quilting for tips on preparing your quilt top.
All the designs are just straight vertical lines in one direction. You just play around with the spacing.
Lines can be stitched very close together – 1/4″ or 1/8″ (or even 1/16″ if you’re crazy!)
You can see this in the quilt Pojagi Inspiration.
Lines can be stitched 1/2″ or 1″ apart.
Spacing doesn’t have to be uniform on the entire quilt. You can have parts with more dense stitching and parts with less dense stitching.
- Begin like regular straight vertical lines. Stitch 6″ or 8″ apart, then fill in to have lines 1″ apart. Then add lines in between, so the spaces get smaller and smaller – 1/2″ then 1/4″ then 1/8″.
- Feel free to stop after any of these steps. If you like the look of lines 1/2″ apart, you can always just leave it like that.
- Remember that each time you go closer together, you are doubling the number of stitching lines on the quilt. So each step will take the same amount of time as all the steps before it put together.
[eg. if my quilt is 40″ wide, there will be forty 1″ stitching lines, forty 1/2″ stitching lines, eighty 1/4″ stitching lines and one hundred sixty 1/8″ stitching lines!]
- If you have a 1″ wide walking foot, that is perfect for using as a reference.
- Take your time. When you are stitching long straight lines, the temptation is to just put the pedal down and race through. Stitching at a more moderate pace will give a better result. Stitches will be more even, it will give you more chance to adjust as you go and it is easier on your shoulders and back.
Adjust the quilt weight as you go. Keep it up in the front of the machine so it isn’t pulling, and adjust the back so that the rest of the quilt has somewhere to go. All the stitching lines will add more weight.
This sample is a small placemat, but the procedure is the same for a quilt of any size.
Make your own practice placemat with this Simple Placemat tutorial.
Design Option – Varied Spacing
This design has some matchstick lines at 1/4″ density and some at 1/8″ density.
Begin by marking lines 1″ apart. A quilting ruler and hera marker make this easy.
Using the creased lines as a guide, stitch right on the lines. A walking foot is helpful, but not necessary.
Begin by stitching the line closest to the middle.
Stitch the lines on one side of the quilt, moving from the middle to the edge.
Turn the quilt and stitch the lines on the other side.
Then stitch in between those lines at 1/2″. If your foot is 1″ wide, use it as a guide. Otherwise you can mark those lines with a hera marker.
Continue stitching 1/4″ lines in between the 1/2″ lines. You can use your presser foot as a guide. If it is larger than 1/2″ wide, just look for something on the foot that is at the right spot to use as a reference point.
Once the 1/4” lines are stitched, add 1/8” lines where desired. In the sample, they are added in the second and fourth columns.
NOTE: For a placemat, you can probably fit the entire placemat in your sewing machine easily, so you might choose to not rotate it and stitch the sides separately. That’s fine, but if you are are quilting a larger quilt, you will need to.
Once the quilting is done, just trim and add binding to finish it off.
Be sure to share a picture #simplequilting to inspire others.
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See matchstick quilting used in quilts.
designer, teacher, speaker
Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. Find out how to take a course or workshop.