Creative articles about quilting

Quilt Lines With Channel Locks


As most of my followers know I am an enthusiastic long arm quilter and I work on my BERNINA Q20 Long Arm machine on a daily basis.  Recently, I decided to try to quilt perfectly straight lines with Mechanical Channel Locks on my BERNINA Q20 Long Arm machine with some fabric for production quilting.

Channel quilting, channel quilted yardage, straight line quilting, horizontal quilting

                  Channel Quilting meters of fabric on a BERNINA Q20 Long Arm Machine

What are Mechanical Channel Locks:

The 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 fashion is stopped and you can only quilt straight lines with channel locks.

straight line quilting, vertical quilt lines, horizontal quilting lines, tool to make straight quilting lines, Quilt Perfectly Straight Lines With Channel Locks

Mechanical Channel Locks for Horizontal & Vertical Quilting Lines

Why Use Channel Locks:

It’s much easier to quilt straight lines with channel locks as the machine is restricted with stoppers on the machine carriage. They are also useful in placing the quilt top straight. Simultaneously, the edges can be basted onto the batting and the quilt back.

The reason I used the channel locks is because I wanted horizontal straight lines to be quilted on about 10 meters 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 of time.

The Mechanical Channel Locks are accessories that can be purchased with the BERNINA Q20 Long Arm or purchase them later on. I am not at all mechanically inclined and I found them super easy to install.  See the BERNINA video below about how to install them. 

What to Quilt With Channel Locks:

 I found the horizontal setting made it easy to quilt perfectly straight lines with channel locks on production quilted fabric. I will be using Channel Locks well into the future on multiple projects.  Mechanical Channel 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 quilt that is utilitarian and needs straight line quilting. 


My BERNINA Q20 machine was set up at BSR2 (BERNINA Stitch Regulation 2) and 8 stitches per inch with a BERNINA touchscreen pen. The touchscreen pen eliminates finger prints on the screen.

touchscreen pen, TouchPen, Touchscreen Pen, Quilt Perfectly Straight Lines With Channel Locks

       BERNINA Touchscreen Pen

8SPI, setting on Q20 long arm,

                                                                       8 Stitches per inch

The Channel Locks in Action:

Some other thoughts on the Channel Locks:
  • It’s so easy to go fast with the channel locks engaged unfortunately, this is not what’s best for the machine
  • However, it’s important to go gently, smoothly and at moderate speed for best stitch quality results
  • If you engage both channel locks the machine cannot move at all
  • If you live in an old home (not level) like I do engaging the channel locks helps to keep the machine from moving when not in use
  • Your installer will have set up your machine as level as possible 
  • Remember to disengage channel locks before resuming free motion quilting
  • Mechanical Channel locks are manufactured & designed for the BERNINA Q Series long arm machines
  • Channel locks are made of excellent quality materials, easy to install and operate
  • Want to give channel locks a try? Need a simple tote pattern that’s very similar to this one? Look at a simple tote tutorial on my website here
Straight Line Quilting with channel locks, horizontal line quilting

Totes lined up after completed on my BERNINA Q20 Long Arm

I hope you found my review of Mechanical Channel Locks informative. You can quilt perfectly straight lines with channel locks. Have fun with straight line quilting!


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    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Dear Mary,
      It is a Bernina print from the company Bernatex, but they don’t have it on their website anymore, so it’s probably sold out. However, I did find it on two different online shops:
      1. UK: Frumble

      2. US: Bearspawfabric

      3. Spain: lastijerasdegloria fabric in red/ fabric in black

      4. Germany: Stoffekontor

      If you do not live in either of these countries, you have to check if they deliver internationally or if you can find another store which offers the fabric.

  • Katherine Ettinger EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    H have a Q16 on a Studio Frame.  I purchased the channel locks and had them installed.  They are worthless as to Horizontal and Vertical locks……I saw a video today showing the installation again (and I did follow a Bernina installation video when I first installed them.)  Unfortunately, they and now after a new install, the function is worthless.  It does not hold the machine either vertically or horizontally.  What am I missing or doing incorrectly.  I have served as a Bernina Tech a number of years ago.  I am sure I followed the directions correctly.  Thank you for your time.

    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Dear Katherine,

      Only thing that comes to my mind at the moment is, that maybe the hight adjustment is not correct? After installing them, you need to adjust the height of the stops. If they are incorrect and do not touch your bar with enough pressure, then it won’t lock. Here is a picture about this step in the instruction manual:

      If that is not the issue, could you please take a photo of your installation or further descripe the issue? Then I can ask our Longarm experts for advice.
      Kind regards, Ramona

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