Simple Quilting with straight vertical lines

peach and green placemat with title "Quilting with straight vertical lines".

The simplest of simple quilting designs is straight vertical lines. The expression “vertical lines”, means lines that are parallel to the edges of the quilt. That means, depending on how you display your quilt, they could technically be horizontal lines.

Things to consider

Straight vertical line quilting works with almost every quilt pattern. But there are so many variations to the design, that you have to consider some things to see which option works best with the quilt top that you have.

Here are some things to consider that will help you make the decision.

1. Do I want a single direction or both directions?

Vertical lines can be used in either a single direction or both directions. If you choose both directions, lines will be crossing to give a check effect.

2. What about spacing?

Vertical lines do not have to be equally spaced. If It fits with your quilt design, you can have some lines closer together and others farther apart. Use your piecing as inspiration.

3. Do I need to mark?

If you are following seams, then you won’t need to mark vertical lines. Often you will need to mark at least some of the lines. Once you have stitched some, you can use those as reference with a guide bar.

Check out Getting Started with Simple Quilting for tips on marking your quilt top.

Design options

There are many different variations and options, but these will help get your creativity going.

One direction (not the group 😉)

This design is the easiest of simple quilting designs, but it is still a great way to finish your quilt.

diagram of quilt with lines in one direction.

You can see it in the sample quilt Twinkle in Blues.

Two directions

Adding lines in the other direction changes the whole look of the stitching.

diagram of quilt with lines in two directions.

See it in Green and Pink Twinkle quilt.


Centring the stitching lines in the blocks gives balance and symmetry.

diagram of quilt with lines centred in the blocks and sashing.

Varied spacing

Varying the spacing of either one or two directions adds interest to the quilting.

diagram of quilt with varied spacing.

See this in the Fill in the Blanks Jr accent variation table runner.

Helpful tips

1. Start wide

If you want lines 4” apart, begin by stitching lines 12” apart. This will help keep your quilt secure.

After you’ve stitched the lines 12” apart, go back and fill in the other lines.

2. Middle out

Begin by stitching the lines in the middle of the quilt. Work out towards the edge, then flip the quilt around and work from the middle out towards the other side.

If you have a small quilt project, you might be able to stitch the entire thing the same direction without turning, but still begin in the middle.

3. Flatten and spread

Use your hands to “open” and smooth the fabric as you stitch. This is especially important when you are stitching lines in both directions. It will help to avoid tucks and creases where the lines cross.

4. Take your time

When you are stitching long straight lines, the temptation is to just put the pedal down and race through. 

Taking your time and 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.

5. Adjust the weight as you go

The larger your quilt, the more weight it will have. Take the time to adjust it regularly as you are quilting. Keep it up in the front of the machine so it isn’t pulling, and adjust the back so that the quilt has somewhere to go as it comes off the machine.

Sample Project

This sample is a small placemat, but the procedure would be the same for a quilt of any size.

Make your own quilting practice placemats with this tutorial.

Design Option – Offset check

This design will have stitching lines in both directions. Spacing is regular (equal distance apart), but not directly on the seams or in the middle of the squares.


A hera marker adds clear lines that can be easily followed. Use a quilting ruler to help make the lines.

marking a quilt top with a hera marker and ruler.

I am marking the line 1″ away from the seam.


Using the creased lines as a guide, stitch right on the lines. A walking foot is helpful, but not necessary.

closeup of sewing machine stitching on the creased line.

Begin by stitching the line closest to the middle.

Stitch the lines on one side, moving from the middle to the edge.

placemat with quilted lines on one side.

Turn the quilt and stitch the lines on the other side.

placemat with both sides quilted.

Rotate and stitch one side of perpendicular lines.

third side quilted.

Turn and stitch the final side.

placemat with all quilting complete.

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, this is the procedure you will need to use.

Once the quilting is done, just trim and add binding to finish it off.

peach and green placemat with straight vertical line quilting,

Be sure to share a picture #simplequilting to inspire others.

Want more Simple Quilting?

Get the Simple Quilting ebook.

Finish your quilts quickly and easily on your domestic machine with ten simple quilting designs and hundreds of variations.

simple quilting book cover



See straight vertical line quilting used in quilting projects.

blue and white twinkle sampler quilt with title.

Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.

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