Types of Quilting Stitches

Stitching is among the jobs that require high levels of creativity to achieve excellent quality sewed clothing. With different types of stitches all over the sewing industry, it is essential to learn about some unique stitches, such as quilting stitches that serve a crucial role in clothes and all other fabrics. We have done enough research to make you understand everything about quilting stitches.

What is quilting stitches?

These are stitches created to hold three layers of fabrics of the quilt together, that is, the top, batting, and back. They are straight stitches that a machine or hand can sew through three layers of fabrics, creating a padded or raised effect on the end product. When quilt stitch using your hand, you will have to use running, back, and chain stitches, but straight stitches are mainly used when using a sewing machine.

How far apart should quilting stitches be?

When it comes to distancing, quilting stitches can be more challenging compared to the other sewing stitches. You will need a lot of time choosing the right fabrics, the pattern, and batting; much concentration is required to end up with the perfect and gorgeous quilt pattern. When it comes to making the quilt top, you will have to be more careful because it becomes the quilt’s focal point; however, this does not mean that you will get fancy stitches or techniques.

The main factors that will make you achieve the best or worst final look are the length, density, and distance of the quilts you make. The quilting density determines the closeness of your quilting lines; if you want to quilt simple and parallel lines, consider the following densities:

• One inch (2.54 cm)
• Three inches(7.6 cm)
• A quarter-inch (0.64cm)

The lines you make have less than one inch in the distance, then you will achieve a dense quilt, and if you make lines with more than four inches distance, you will succeed in creating a sparse quilt. It is always easy for one to either scale up or down a straight line pattern. For example, when you are stitching a diamond grid with lines crossing at even intervals, maybe three inches, and you want to scale it down to be denser, stitch a different gap of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).

Should I stitch in the ditch before quilting?

You can choose to stitch the ditch or not; when you quilt very close to the seam allowances, it is easy to simulate ditch stitching if one views the quilt from a distance. However, if the extra materials make the seam line wobble as you are quilting near it and moving your stitching away from it, you will be possibly doing the wrong thing.

Quilts that have been stitched from edge to edge do not necessarily require ditch stitching, the quilting lines pass through the seam so many times, and they have been to blend the quilt elements precisely. However, when you decide to highlight the quilt’s areas using custom quilting, for you to decide whether or not to stitch the ditch, you should consider to check if the seam lines maintain a straight visual appearance.

It is crucial to ensure that you keep the borders and sashing strips straight because borders act as the frame to the quilt and ensure that it gets the best-finished look. Stitching the ditch between walls is always crucial because it enables easy stabilization of the fabric, prevents distortion, and maintains the straight lines. If you can sew the ditch, you should do it first before adding any quilting design on the sashing or the border. Stitching on the ditch is essential; if you will always avoid it or fear to do it, your confidence in standing on the sidelines will be something you will never achieve.

You can practice the stitching in the ditch technique using your sewing machine, it is quite simple, and the more you tend to do it, the more you can get used to it. You only need a guiding ruler and the expanding space on your machine, specifically meant for support. Hold the guiding ruler to ensure that your pointer finger and thumb aims towards the needle, and one should keep the needle between the thumb and the fingertip.

If possible, hold the ruler on the seam’s low side; an essential skill one should learn is holding the ruler with either hand and driving the sewing machine using the opposite hand. However, operating the machine with either the right or left handle becomes easy for the stitch-regulated device. If you find yourself scared of this, you can use the machine’s invisible threads to stitch in the ditch because it can help the learners and perfectly serve the experienced quilters.

The 10+ popular quilting stitches

The following are the popularly used stitches:

1. Horizontal quilting stitches

These quilting stitches involve the use of straight-line stitches that are made in parallel rows and at regular intervals. It is the simplest quilting stitch that anyone would ever learn about, it is achieved by making marks at the top of your fabric and sewing over them, or you can attach a masking tape and sew alongside its edge.

2. Square quilting stitches

They are also called diamond quilting stitches, and they can be either square-shaped or diamond-shaped; you can achieve making the square-shaped ones by first making a row of parallel quilting stitches and ensure they cross over each other’s to form squares. The diamond-shaped shapes are achieved by making parallel rows diagonally and cross over each other to make diamond-like shapes.

3. Template quilting designs

These are quilts mostly made by professionals, where complex-looking designs are made with template shapes, the designs are made easy for easy replication across the quilt. You can choose to use either stencils or template shapes to make these quilting stitches. Most people use the leaf, heart, wine glass, rope, and feather to develop template quilting stitches.

4. Free form quilting

The method allows one to do the stitches randomly; it is possible to use the darning foot to make the free motion stitches quickly. Stitching in this manner, you should make particular designs to make your stitches look more even and pleasing, especially where you will need to pivot.

5. Stipple quilting

It is the opposite of free-motion quilting stitches; however, the only difference between the free motion and stipple stitching is that at no point do the free motion stitches cross at each other. It is always used to fill the unfilled quilt areas and surfaces; it makes the other quilt areas look more raised than when stitching has been done purposely to flatten the material. It is also known as meandering stitches.

6. Corded quilting stitches

Here, the design gets conceived to bring about thin double lines throughout continuously without any breaking. Quilting stitches are created over the design lines resulting in a channel in between. Then thread a thick, soft Italian quilting wool through the created channel.

7. Shadow quilting

It is the opposite of double line quilting, where the sewer uses a thin transparent fabric such as chiffon on top and back. Any shape of providing material gets placed between layers, and therefore, quilting is done around the fabric shapes to hold them in place. Another way of doing this is by threading colored wool through the channel created between double lines.

8. Crazy quilting stitches

It involves making use of embroidery stitches as the quilting stitches over crazy quilts. You can choose to use any of your favorite decorative stitches on the sewing machine or use your hand to make perfect embroidery border stitches.

9. Trapunto quilting

It is relatively more straightforward than the others, different from what the name suggests; after you are done with stitching, you should consider inserting small padding pieces in the spaces the created stitches. Done to make the motif look more padded.

10. Outline quilting

In this quilt stitching method, stitching gets done along the edge of the motif or the applique design. Once the stitches have been made around the applique design, it becomes accentuated, causing a padded effect to the design.

11. Echo quilting

It is more similar to outline quilting. However, there is a difference between them where the echo quilting has an echo effect meaning that stitching is done several times around the design. These stitches are created outside the design, considering a distance of a quarter inch.

12. Kantha quilting

Here, running stitches are created to run throughout the quilt, to correctly hold patchwork pieces together in a unique, creative, and beautiful, cohesive manner.

Quilting stitches vs. sewing stitches

The two have been widely used in the sewing industry; however, not all people have a general understanding of their differences. Quilting stitches are used to form beautiful patterns as they hold all the quilt’s layers together. What brings the difference between quilting and sewing stitches is whether one needs the stitches to remain hidden or add beauty to finished products’ appearance.

Sewing stitches existed even during prehistoric times; its primary purpose remains unchanged; it is done to hold two pieces of sewing materials together to create decorative crafts or clothing from various fabrics. Quilting stitches are made to hold two or three layers of fabrics to stitch together the batting layer in between. Quilting is done to provide warmth to the user with stitches meant to create more beauty and interest.

How to use quilter’s knot to secure hand quilting stitches

Securing hand quilting stitches with a knot is one crucial thing that should always be done, especially when you begin the quilting process and when ending each length of a quilting thread. It ensures that they do not quickly unravel.

You should start your line of hand quilting stitches by following these simple steps:

• Place the desired length of thread through the needle’s eye; at the end of the thread, do a quilter’s knot.
• Begin making the line by sliding the needle into the quilt sandwich for about an inch, and then do your first stitch.
• Let the needle and thread freely move between the quilt top and the batting, bring it through the quilt’s top where you will start your stitches. Prevent the needle from piercing through the quilt’s back.
• Carefully pull the needle until where the knot gets stopped with the fabric on the quilt’s top.
• Tug at the thread by wrapping one of your fingers around it for two to three inches; by doing this, you will have moved the knot to the quilt sandwich.
• Avoid tugging too hard since this might make the knot pass through the quilt top. But if it happens you should not have to worry a lot, consider repeating the same procedure but this time is gentle.

To end a line of hand quilting stitches, consider the following:

• Pass both the needle and the thread through all the created layers to the back of the quilt, or you can choose to go through the top.
• Using a thread, create a loop, run your needle through the loop you made so that you can form a knot; when doing this, consider holding the thread against the backing. Otherwise, you can create a quilter’s knot by getting the thread wrapped around the needle and pulling the thread towards the top of the quilt and the needle in the opposite direction.
• Get the thread into the sandwich by simply tugging and ensure it goes through the quilt’s batting.
• Finally, consider clipping the excess thread.

Two types of machine quilting options for beginners

The actual quilting is one of the quilting processes that most people fear encountering because it takes a lot of time on the sewing machine to quilt the layers together. Luckily, there are several options for quilting machines beginners can use until they become experts. They include:

• straight line machine quilting

Quilts made with straight lines always have a clean and modern feel; the machine allows the user to choose from various vertical, horizontal, or diagonal options. More options come in when layering the quilts; you can do this in diamonds, crosshatches, or squares.

Getting perfect straight lines

If you want to get perfectly straight lines while quilting, consider setting your machine to a long and straight stitch, mark the stitching lines using chalk, or don’t like this consider layering painter’s tape across the quilt to create the straight lines.

• free motion machine quilting

When using a free motion machine for quilting, it is recommendable to use loops as they are among the simplest ways to go. You will first stitch freehand circles across the quilt. The pattern that forms, later on, ensure happily and beautifully crossed stitched likes different from the meandering; this feature makes quilting easier than expected. You will need to keep the loopy lines more even by taking cues from the created quilt pattern.


Quilting stitches can be done in many different ways to achieve different patterns that suit other occasions and purposes. For beginners, it is crucial to learn the stitch on the ditching process as you are learning quilting to make it easier to achieve perfect quilts. The main reason for quilting is padding and creating warmer materials.