Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip

Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip

Over the past week, I have been working on quilting my Beacon quilt. I really want the quilting to be a part of the story of the quilt, and I selected to use interlocking clam shells in the background. I had in mind that it would look like waves, but my husband and many others have commented that they see fish scales. As all of those things are nautical related, that works for me.

Me being me, I just jumped right in and started quilting my idea. Pretty quickly, I realized that it might be tricky to keep the rows fairly even across the side of the quilt – especially when it starts to become broken by the Beacon points of the design. The quilt was already loaded on my long arm, and I did not want to spend a lot of time marking the quilt. Also: the background is Kona Nautical (aka deep navy blue), and a lot of my marking techniques would not work that well anyway. As I was scanning around my sewing room trying to come up with an idea, my eyes settled on my tailor’s tape.

Tailor's Tape

Tailor’s Tape

Knowing that the quilt could not support a lot of weight laying on it, and at the same time I didn’t need to have a “perfect” reference line, I tried draping the tailor’s tape across the quilt top.

Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip: Tailor's Tape

Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip: Tailor’s Tape

As you can see looking down the length of my quilt, it worked pretty well!

Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip: Tailor's Tape

Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip: Tailor’s Tape

As I am working, I keep the tailor’s tape about an inch lower than I want the bottom of my line to be. I am just using it as a reference line for my eye and I don’t want to have to worry about getting my hopping bar too near and tangled up.

Another tool that is commonly used is painter’s tape, but I thought I might struggle to adhere and re-adhere and stretch across the length of the quilt repeatedly, but I definitely think it is a great tool for straight line references when quilting on a domestic machine and a quilt needs to be bunched up. Do you have any creative tools you use for this purpose that I haven’t explored or thought about yet??

Linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

17 thoughts on “Long Arm Straight Line Reference Tip

  1. Sally says:

    Definitely fish (or mermaid!) scales to me too! And I tend to just mark with a water soluble pen, but I’ll keep the painters tape idea more in mind now, thank you.

  2. bsellers21 says:

    Clamshells are tricky, it’s easy to end up with an uneven row quickly. Your solution is a good idea and your stitching looks so good. I tried to mark a line with painters tape once and found it didn’t want to stay on the fabric. I was using the kind that is easily removed from the wall – might have been the reason. 🙂

  3. Cindy says:

    Isn’t it great when you can use something you already have for another purpose. I think they do look like fish scales.

  4. That is an awesome tip and I can’t wait to see the quilt quilted!!

  5. Jayne Willis says:

    I am so anxious to see this quilt! The quilting promises to be amazing! Nautical is my favorite deep dark blue, so I know it will be a winner! There is nothing off limits to use as a tool!

  6. Good Morning Yvonne! WOW! Plus a Double WOW!!! Your quilting looks amazing and absolutely perfect from my point of view. You picked a perfect pattern to quilt this quilt with and now I am so looking forward to seeing the whole quilt completed. Great job. Have a fantastic creative day!

  7. JanineMarie says:

    Wow, that is really working well for you! The shells show beautifully on your dark fabric. I think they are a great motif, but I’ve only done them by hand. I have used painter’s tape for marking lines, but I also use my hera marker. It’s most easy to see on solid fabrics, and I have a little lamp that I set near my (domestic) machine. If I aim it on a slant it accentuates the shadow.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Wow, that’s a cool idea. Our localish library Makerspot has a long-arm for community use, but won’t allow use of the channel lock because “no one wants to quilt straight lines on a long-arm”. I haven’t tried a real piece yet, but I think that could at least help my very linear brain keep things in line.

  9. Great tip. Not that I’m ready to do that kind of quilting yet….but good to keep in mind.

  10. RuthB says:

    I found the same thing free motion quilting on my sit down machine doing clamshells and used masking tape to give me a line. I like how you dipped in and out of the clamshell and can definitely see fish scales. I tried to make mine just tough and it was not very successful most of the time!

  11. Jasmine says:

    Brilliant! I see the scales. I think it would have looked more like waves of the rows weren’t touching. Yet this looks great!

  12. Gah! Love the clam shells! I can’t wait to see this one!

  13. It’s looking great! Does the tape moves as you quilt along?

    1. Yes, the tape can move slightly, but it tends to shift side to side. And of course, I would bump it myself leaning over to tie of threads, etc., but it was easy to adjust. To get it straight, I would just wiggle it side to side (left to right) a bit and it would flatten out into a nice line.

  14. quiltingmod says:

    Interesting idea. Your lines certainly look precise. I’d love if you’d share at Lesson’s Learned:

  15. Paige says:

    Great idea! Your quilting is beautiful! Starting back with the design after the white looks tricky and you have handled it well.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)