What stitch length is best?

December 2, 2014

stitches per inch, quilting, longarm quilting, APQS, longarm quilting machines

With a great stitch regulator working for you, you don’t have to worry about trying to balance your quilting speed and motion to get consistent stitches. Your next decision rests in choosing the proper length of stitch for your quilting project. When you sew your quilting seams, most sewing machines have presets for common stitch lengths. However, your longarm allows you flexibility with your creativity. Maybe quilters would prefer presets in a longarm, too! (If you would, let us know, because we’re always looking for ways to make your quilting experience better!)

That said, we’re often asked about what is the “right” stitch length to quilt with …and you know what the answer is going to be – it depends! If you were hand quilting, tiny, even stitches on the front and back are considered heirloom if you can muster over 15 per inch.But with machine quilting, every single stitch is obvious. In hand quilting, every OTHER stitch is seen. So setting your stitch regulator to 15 stitches per inch for general designs would be too close (and imagine the fun you’d have if you had to “unsew” any of those stitches!)

The average machine quilting stitch length chosen is between 10 and 11 stitches per inch. This length complements both delicate designs as well as bolder quilting motifs. However, your stitch length may need to change as you increase both your batting thickness as well as your thread thickness.Heavy cotton thread will look more pleasing with longer stitches, around 8-9 per inch. Thick batting will quilt better with longer stitches as well.

Heirloom quilting is very dense and compact. For this style of quilting, increase your stitch length to 13 or so to create tiny, dainty stitches. Choose fine thread to avoid looking frumpy and overworked in your detail quilting. It’s important to note that there isn’t really a “right” number of stitches per inch. Even in quilt judging circles, the ideal number of stitches per inch is subjective. Don’t stress about the actual NUMBER of stitches – choose a number that is pleasing to your eye. What’s more important is the stitch consistency!