The Free Motion Quilting Project: Walking Foot Quilting: Let's Quilt Gridlines

Friday, February 2, 2018

Walking Foot Quilting: Let's Quilt Gridlines

Happy Groundhogs Day! We're kicking off the second month of the Machine Quilting Party and continuing our quest to learn more about walking foot quilting with new quilting tutorials shared every week. Today let's learn how to quilt a really simple design called Gridlines:

Click Here to find the quilt pattern for Marvelous Mosaic in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day!

I quilted Gridlines in several quilts from the book. Here I quilted the lines farther apart to fill this "X" block of the Hugs and Kisses quilt:

I also quilted Gridlines on a much smaller scale for the Love the Light Wholecloth. This helped emphasize the motifs in the quilt and created contrast between the larger shapes and the background. Yes, I really did quilt all of those lines completely with my walking foot!

Quilting Gridlines without Pleats

None of the designs we've quilted together so far involve crossing your lines of quilting. When you begin to cross your lines of quilting, issues can arise in the form of pleats and puckers forming as you stitch right up to and over the previously stitched line.

The reason is simple: if the layers of your quilt begin to shift and form a snow pile in front of your foot, stitching over a line is like running into a wall - that extra fabric has to go somewhere and it's just going to fold over and form a pleat in that spot.

So the solution is to watch your quilt like a hawk and keep a firm grip on the surface. Make sure to wear quilting gloves so you can pull down the fabric gently as you quilt right up to the line so it doesn't form a pleat.

A few things can stop your quilts from being prone to pleating and puckering. Starching your fabric before you cut it will really help to stabilize the surface so it has far less stretch and give as you quilt over it.

Securely basting your quilt will also be a big help. No, I do not stitch around the perimeter of my quilt block before beginning to quilt. The main reason is the size of the blocks (anything bigger than 8 inches can start to see shifting as you stitch across the full length) and I'm using a very thick batting and minky fabric on the back.

To make the block easy to move, I always have my Queen Supreme Slider stuck to the table top, but off my feed dogs. You use your feed dogs a lot with walking foot quilting and put a lot of pressure down on them with the walking foot. If you put your slider over the feed dogs it will get chewed up, so make sure to set it up the way I do in this video.

How to Mark Gridlines on your Quilt

The only other time challenging thing with Gridlines is deciding how to mark it on your quilt. For this block, I used a guide bar on my walking foot to space out the lines. This is great for lines spaced 1 inch apart or wider because it won't be noticeable from a distance if the lines aren't perfectly spaced.

For lines closer together, like the 1/4 inch spacing in the Love the Light Wholecloth, you need to mark every line of the design to ensure they are accurately spaced. Click Here to find my favorite fabric marking pens.

It will be VERY noticeable if you quilt some lines closer together or further apart when quilting a dense version of this design. The quilt can also shift as the surface is densely quilted so having the lines marked ensures they will be evenly spaced.

But please don't let that stop you from trying it! Quilting densely is a great way to build skill because you get so much more bang for your buck. In a small square you get a lot more repetitions when you quilt lines closer together rather than further apart.

So that's it for this quilting tutorial for Gridlines! I hope you have a lot of fun quilting this design in a Marvelous Mosaic square this week.

If you'd like to join us for this Machine Quilting Party, simply pick up a copy of my book Explore Walking Foot Quilting to find the patterns and follow along.

Click Here to find all the quilting tutorials we've shared to this project so far.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Thank you sew much for all your time and help.

  2. Wow, how good is this. Thank you very much. i have inherited my mothers Bernina and was trying out the walking foot.Can't wait to try it out.


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