One of the essential parts of quilt making is, of course, the quilting stitches.
A quilt stitch is more critical than you may think.
All the stitches you use for your decorative quilting design also hold the layers of your quilt together.
This use is essential for the longevity of your quilt.
If you do not use the correct stitches, or worse, no stitches at all, the quilt will quickly become misshapen, warped, and eventually fall apart.
Did you know there are several different types of quilting stitches?
This post will cover the seven most popular quilting stitches that are trending in 2021.
What Are Quilting Stitches?
A quilting stitch is a stitch that you use to sew the layers of your quilt together. These stitches can be created by hand or with a machine. Many quilters use a decorative design with their stitches to add another layer of creativity to their projects.
When choosing the type of quilting stitch you want to use for your project, you can choose from many options ranging from simple quilting stitches (like “stitch in the ditch”) to more complex free motion quilting designs.
I’ll cover both of these later on in this post.
How Far Apart Should Quilting Stitches Be?
First, you need to check your batting instructions. Most packaged batting informs you how far apart your stitches can be. Depending on the type of batting you choose, this distance could range between 3” and 10”.
Next, you want to decide on the quilting stitch and design you want to accomplish on your quilt. Choosing your design helps you figure out how close your stitches should be.
7 Popular Quilting Stitches for 2021
The seven different quilting stitches I highlight here are the most common designs I see for new quilts. You can use many of these styles in various ways or mix them to create a truly unique quilting project.
1. Running Stitch
If you’re wondering, “What stitch do you use for hand quilting? I suggest the running stitch. This stitch is the most popular hand quilting stitch, and for good reason.
It not only holds the layers of your quilt securely, but it also has a beautiful, modern feel because running stitch quilting is usually done in straight lines.
You can use this quilting stitch for the entirety of your quilt or as an accent design for your favorite blocks on your quilt. This accent is a popular design on Kantha quilts like the one pictured below. I love the Bohemian feel of the stitching.
2. Tie Stitch
Popular in baby quilts, the tie stitch method uses either embroidery floss or yarn and tying small knots all over the quilt to hold the layers together. This is especially fun for kids because they like extra texture from the small strings of yarn.
The tie stitch is a great beginner stitch since you do it all by hand and once you get the technique down, you can do it fairly quickly.
3. Stippling Stitch
The stippling stitch (sometimes called a meandering stitch) is an excellent beginner, free-motion quilting design popular in the modern quilting community. Think of the design as a winding river winding all over the face of your quilt top.
This stitch is fun because it can be a super tight, tiny design like this quilt below.
Or it can be a more spread-out design like this example.
4. Stitch in the Ditch
“Stitch in the Ditch” may be a term you have heard before, but you may not know what it means if you are new to quilting. It means you stitch your quilting stitches in the “ditch” of your seams.
By quilting this way, you allow the design of your quilt top to be the shining star, and the quilting is virtually hidden on the top of your quilt. If you are just starting your quilting, I suggest taking it nice and slow to keep your stitches perfectly straight and in the “ditch.”
5. Free Motion Quilting
Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) is a broad term for any type of quilting done “freely” with your feed dogs down or covered while using an FMQ foot. As I mentioned, stitch #3 is an FMQ design.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to FMQ. There are hundreds of designs to choose from, or you can even create your very own. It is an art form and should be treated as such. Your design may not look exactly like someone else’s, and that’s what makes it so beautiful!
Here is an example of a piece someone made with several different FMQ designs on one project. Gorgeous, right?
6. Straightline Quilting
If you are looking for ideas for modern quilting designs, straight-line quilting (SLQ) might be precisely what you are looking for. Clean, straight lines across a quilt are visually pleasing and give the quilt top a soft, plush texture.
This stitch is one of my favorite quilting stitches to do with my machine. I also like to use my walking foot to help feed the quilt through my machine at an even pace.
You can use straight lines in various ways, as demonstrated in this quilt I made (you can find the free pattern here). I used SLQ to fill in blocks in two different ways on this quilt top.
7. Template Stitch
You know those gorgeous floral FMQ designs you see on some quilts and think, “How do they do that?!” Well, I bet most of those quilters used a template to create these beautiful designs. Templates are made from acrylic plastic and come in a wide variety of designs and sizes.
It takes some practice to get used to using templates along with FMQ techniques, but once you get the hang of it, you can create absolutely gorgeous designs on your quilting projects. I’ve even seen several different longarm quilters using these acrylic templates.
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Which of these quilting stitches will you use next?
There we have my top seven most popular quilting stitches in 2021. I love the variety of the different techniques needed for each quilting style.
With a little practice, you can master any one of these quilting stitches for your own projects this year!
Quilting is truly an art form and a way to express your creativity. Now you know you can do it with the quilt stitches as well, not just the construction of the quilt top itself. Have with it and happy stitching!
About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.