Quilting lines with channel locks

As most of my followers know, I am an enthusiastic longarm quilter and work daily on my BERNINA Q20 longarm machine. Recently I decided to try quilting perfectly straight lines with mechanical locks on my BERNINA Q20 longarm machine with production quilting fabric.

Channel quilting, channel quilting, straight line quilting, horizontal quilting

Pipe meters of fabric onto a BERNINA Q20 long arm machine

Channel locks are 2 mechanical parts mounted directly to the quilting frame or carriage. The movement of the machine is blocked in the horizontal and/or vertical direction. Essentially, free motion quilting in a curvilinear manner is stopped and you can only quilt straight lines with channel locks.

straight line quilting, vertical quilting lines, horizontal quilting lines, tool for creating straight quilting lines, perfectly straight line quilting with channel locks

Mechanical channel lock for horizontal and vertical quilting lines

Why use channel locks:

It is much easier to quilt straight lines with channel locks because the machine is limited by stops on the machine carriage. They are also useful for placing the quilt top straight. At the same time, the edges can be basted onto the batting and the back of the quilt.

The reason I used the channel locks is because I wanted straight horizontal lines to be quilted on about 10 yards of fabric. This fabric will be made into several tote bags for an upcoming BERNINA Q Series Long Arm event where I am teaching. I have to say they worked so well and saved me many hours.

Mechanical locks are accessories that can be purchased with the BERNINA Q20 Long Arm or purchased later. I’m not mechanically inclined at all and found them super easy to install. Watch the BERNINA video below to learn how to install them.

What to stitch with channel locks:

I found the horizontal setting made it easy to stitch perfectly straight lines with channel locks on production quilting fabric. I will be using Channel Locks in the future on several projects. Mechanical locks would also be useful for modern quilts and home decor projects like pillows where straight lines would look fantastic. Mechanical channel locks would be perfect for a utility quilt that requires straight line quilting.


My BERNINA Q20 machine was set to BSR2 (BERNINA stitch regulation 2) and 8 stitches per inch with a BERNINA touch screen pen. The touch pen eliminates fingerprints on the screen.

touch screen stylus pen, touch screen stylus pen, perfectly straight lines with channel locks


8SPI, adjustment on long arm Q20,

8 stitches per inch

The chain locks in action:

Some other thoughts on Channel Locks:
  • It’s so easy to go fast with the Channel Locks activated unfortunately, it’s not the best for the machine
  • However, it is important to go slowly, smoothly and at moderate speed to achieve best stitch quality results.
  • If you engage both channel locks, the machine cannot move at all.
  • If you live in an old (unlevel) house, like me, activating channel locks helps keep the machine from moving when not in use.
  • Your installer will have configured your machine as up to standard as possible
  • Remember to turn off the channel locks before resuming free motion quilting.
  • Mechanical channel locks are manufactured and designed for BERNINA Q series long arm machines.
  • Channel locks are made of excellent quality materials, easy to install and use
  • Do you want to try channel locking? Need a simple tote pattern very similar to this one? Watch a simple catch-all tutorial on my site here
Straight line quilting with channel locks, horizontal line quilting

Totes lined up after finishing my BERNINA Q20 long arm

I hope you found my review of mechanical channel locks informative. You can stitch perfectly straight lines with channel locks. Have fun with straight line quilting!

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