1. Backing: we all know that quilt backing is the most expensive part of the whole process so keep this cheap. Whenever I need a quilt backing, I go straight to the sale section at Fat Quarter Shop. You can always find something there that is perfect for the quilt you're working on and you can get it for a knockdown price - often as low as $5/yd if you choose well.
3. Thread: I use only Aurifil because it is my favourite and if it aint broke, don't fix it. 50wt for when I want the quilting to add texture but melt into the background. 40wt when I want the quilting to stand out a bit more. 28wt if the quilting is going to be the star of the show. You can buy Aurifil thread at the Village Haberdashery in the UK and at the Fat Quarter Shop in the US.
4. Needles: Again, I only use Superior Titanium Topstitch needles (which are now being stocked in the UK by Simply Solids). 80 for piecing lightweight fabrics like Liberty lawn and Oakshott shot cottons. 90 for piecing regular quilting cottons. 100 for quilting. They cost more than other needles but last and stay sharp for so long that they're cheaper in the long run.
5. Basting: I baste larger quilts with quilting pins (bent safety pins) and smaller projects with basting spray.
6. Marking the quilt: don't be fooled into thinking you can just follow the pattern in the piecing as you quilt. You will end up with a hot mess of not quite straight lines. I mark quilting lines on the quilt top with a hera marker. I start with a wide grid which I quilt. I then mark a smaller grid in between these lines and then tend to quilt again in between these lines following the lines as a guide. These final lines do not need to be marked as you can eyeball the half way gap between two parallel lines. I like my straight line quilting lines to sit about 1" to 2" apart - this is quite dense quilting and is personal preference - I like the look of dense, even quilting.
7. Stitch length: I use my machine's maxiumum stitch length which is 5. Smaller stitches are slower, harder to unpick and can pucker the quilt more.
8. Walking foot: if you don't have one, get one. They are built into some machines and, where they aren't, you can usually find one made for your machine or which will work on your machines. Straight line quilting without a walking foot will leave you in a big old pucker mess as the layers all shift underneath the foot.
9. Gloves: I use a pair of very grippy gardening gloves - these make it much easier to keep a strong hold on the quilt as you maneouvre it through the machine.
10. Quilting table: my machine has a quilting table which I use for any quilt over about 35" square to hold as much of the quilt on top as possible.
11. Quilting chair: I also put a chair to my left which helps hold some of the weight of the quilt.
12. About unpicking: when you first start quilting, it is tempting to stop and unpick every time you sneeze or your arms have a funny turn and make a weird wiggle or the quilt gets caught on your knee and veers off sideways. Resist the temptation. Two years down the line when you're sitting on the sofa watching re-runs of The Waltons in front of a roaring fire with a glass in your hand, you will not notice the imperfections.
13. Wine, tv and music: straight line quilting can be boring and repetitive. The addition of music, tv, wine or any other distractions that come to mind can help pass the time.
And what about your top tips for straight line quilting?