Machine Quilting Straight Line Background Fill

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at machine quilting design. We identified two main approaches: allover versus custom fit designs. We have considered a number of elements that could be used in a custom fit design, including quilting in the ditch and motifs. We turn our attention now to machine quilting background fill, beginning with a variety of options using straight lines.

Background fill enhances machine quilting designs by compressing certain areas of the quilt so that other areas will stand out. It is often used with appliqué or with machine quilted motifs, but it can also be strategically placed in patchwork or any large open space in the quilt. Filling a background with straight lines adds structure and contast to the curved lines in appliqué. Straight line fill can create a formal, traditional look or can be mixed with other types of background fill for a more contemporary twist.

Parallel Lines
The background can be quilted with straight parallel lines, equally or variably spaced. The lines can run vertically, horizontally or diagonally, or be combined to go in different directions.

Comfort and Joy has straight vertical lines quilted in the sashing, although the lines were not marked and were quilted free motion.

The Lord is my Shepherd has straight diagonal lines quilted in different directions on the appliqué blocks.

Fruitful also has straight diagonal lines quilted in different directions.

Straight parallel lines in two directions create a grid. Also known as cross-hatching, this is a very common and popular type of background fill. Again, the lines can be evenly or variably spaced and can run in different directions.

The background of Tools of the Trade is quilted with straight lines in a vertical/horizontal grid.

King of Hearts is quilted with a diagonal grid.

The straight lines are variably spaced in the diagonal grid of this background fill.

Radiating Lines
The background can also be machine quilted with straight lines that radiate out from a point on the quilt. That point could be the center of a block, an outside edge, or anywhere in between.

The straight lines behind the urn of fruit radiate out from the center of the block.

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  1. Thanks Debbie and Mary! I often recount the story about the delayed train to Lanark County, but I look back on that visit fondly. (And I love the socks you knit and gave me. 🙂

  2. Debbie Fawcett says:

    Thanks Kathy I loved the quilt on the Cover of the Newsletter. You are an inspiration to even the oldest of our generation to spread their wings and try. I took a Sewflake workshop in Orangeville a few years ago with you and other members of the Dufferin Piecemakers Quilt Guild. You are a real treat!

  3. Mary Cooke says:

    Thanks so much for all the helpful and interesting info on this site….I am from Lanark County Quilters Guild (past program chair). We are the guild that the train almost made you miss !!! I also saw the article and pics in the Quilters Newsletter. Congratulations ! I am mostly just in awe of all your beautiful work and can’t imagine the time it must take to produce it all. Thanks.

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