How to Stitch in the Ditch
There are some crazy terms in quilting and this is one of them. You might be asking, what the heck is stitching in the ditch and how the heck do I do it? Never fear I am here to explain everything you need to know about this crazy named but surprisingly easy quilting concept. Want to learn even more about quilting, sign up for my quilting crash course free email series HERE.
How to Stitch in the Ditch
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What is a stitch in the ditch?
Stitch in the ditch is a quilting term. It involves sewing along the line or ditch of your seam.
This method is often used in quilting. It is very effective when finishing a patchwork quilt. The stitch is mostly invisible on the front and produces a grid on the back of the quilt.
Do you have to stitch in the ditch?
There are times when a clothing pattern may call for this method. If you are making clothing I highly recommend that you follow the pattern. This stitch is meant to be a mostly hidden stitch on the front of the garment so for the best results stitch as the pattern demands.
However if you are quilting and the pattern calls for stitching in the ditch you can go ahead and ignore it if you choose! The method for quilting your quilt is highly personal so if you don’t want to finish your quilt with this technique then don’t!
Can you stitch in the ditch by hand?
You can most definitely achieve this stitch by hand. In fact you might be even more precise if you are working by hand. The stitch is meant to be tucked just between the two fabrics along the seam and stitching slowly by hand will allow you to place your stitches more precisely.
What thread do you use for stitch in the ditch?
There is no special thread for stitching in the ditch. However since this method can be used in several applications it is important to determine what thread is best for the project.
There is a specific thread for hand quilting, which you can use if you are hand stitching.
There is also a machine quilting thread. But honestly I use my everyday machine for stitching in the ditch and I just use sew all thread.
How does a stitch in the ditch foot work?
The stitch in the ditch foot, which you can find HERE, can be a helpful tool. The foot has a small guide that sticks out from under the foot. This helps you line up directly along the ditch/seam. This also slightly presses the seam apart allowing the stitching to go directly into the ditch between the two sides.
This is a specialized foot that does a few other little tricks. Honestly I cannot recommend buying the foot because it stitching in the ditch is pretty straight forward and simple and this foot is one you will rarely ever use. But if you plan to do a LOT of ditch stitching or if you have need of an edging/joining foot then by all means this one can be super handy.
To use the foot simply line the guide up with the line where the fabrics meet. Sew in a long straight stitch between your fabrics.
Tips and Tricks
- I highly recommend that you press your seams to the side when you plan to stitch in the ditch. The alternative which I do not recommend is to press the seams open.
- When using this method for a quilt work in a plus pattern. Start at the top middle of your quilt and complete one row. Then turn your piece and again start sewing on the top middle so that you are creating a plus. Continue in this fashion to avoid any puckering on the quilt back.
- Use a thread color that coordinates with the majority of your fabric. The stitch should be invisible but some might show if your seam is not completely straight.
- The stitching will show on the back of your quilt. Make sure your thread matches or coordinates with the backing fabric.
Video How to Stitch in the Ditch
This is a super easy technique, check out this quick video.