GLAD YOU ASKED THAT…….Can I do that if my machine only offers is a straight stitch?

When I am doing demo’s at shows I usually am working on my Janome Horizon MC 15000 Quiltmaker machine.  I like using this because I can quilt, sew, and embroider all on one machine.  But, what really throws me is when someone comes by and sees me creating an embroidery design and they say, “I can never do anything like that because my machine is old and only does straight stitches”.  Really?  All machines work exactly the same way–the needle goes up and down and the fabric moves under the needle.  Probably better phrased as: “Can I do that if all my machine offers is a straight stitch?” 

Some of the most beautiful work I have seen done is created by using a straight stitch only.  Lowering the feed dogs and using a foot like a darning foot or no foot at all will give you the freedom to create a most beautiful design. This technique is often referred to as thread painting.  Thread painting usually has areas that are highly filled with stitches.  But, free motion quilting could also be considered a form of thread painting.


Using straight stitches for thread painting can be quite an artistic expression.  Your thread becomes your painting palette.  Using multiple colors of threads will give your design more expression.  You can also choose to use one color of thread or a tone on tone thread palette.  The choice is yours.

When using my Janome Horizon MC 15000 Quiltmaker machine, I like to have my PD-H foot in conjunction with my straight stitch needle plate.  Since I am only doing straight stitches, it is not necessary to use the zigzag plate on the throat.  I have more control of the stitches with good thread tension with this combination.


Laughing Cat Design Studio writes a nice blog on how to use straight line stitches to create beautiful works of art.  Below is a sample of her stitches.  Visit her blog page to learn her secrets of straight line stitching.

laughing cat design studio blog

 Laughing Cat Design Studio Blog Tutorial

One amazing quilting artist I have recently been following on Facebook and through her website is Kelly Ashton.  She does amazing quilting using straight stitches.  Below is an image she gave me permission to use to showcase how effective straight stitches using free motion quilting techniques can be. Visit her Facebook page and website to see what exciting things she is doing with straight stitches.

kelly ashton quilts

Quilt by Kelly Ashton




About ymenear

I have been sewing my entire life. I love sewing of all types but recently I have focused on quilting and machine embroidery. I am an educator for quilting and embroidery design software and I own and operate a machine embroidery club that teaches students how to use their machine effectively while creating their own unique projects. I love travel and getting to know people from different regions and seeing how they create projects with their machines.
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