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HELP - Walking Foot versus Ditching Foot

HELP - Walking Foot versus Ditching Foot

Old 09-06-2012, 04:15 PM
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Question HELP - Walking Foot versus Ditching Foot

I am new to quilting and have taught myself through this wonderful website, tutorials on YouTube.com and Missouri Star Quilting and others. Anyway, I just watched a great tutorial on Craftsy.com about quilting big projects on small machines and she does SITD to stabilize the sandwich before she free motions the quilting. Here is my question. Since I don't have a walking foot I started out researching them to buy. I found out there is also a thing called a ditching foot. They are both about the same price on Amazon.com but I was wondering if all of the wonderful experts might have some advice on which is better.

My first quilt was a disaster. Then after many tutorials I tried a Jelly Roll Race quilt and had fantastic success. I did not SITD it but the free motion meander of the quilting makes me feel confident that it will not fall apart in the wash. However, I have another quilt that is blocks and I did the free motion quilting without SITD and since I did a design within the blocks and didn't cross stitching lines I am petrified that it is going to fall apart in the wash and I am thinking I MUST go back and SITD. Rest assured, on the third one I am currently working on, I will use all of the advice obtained in the tutorial that I didn't watch until after the second quilt was finished.

Sorry, for the length but any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. I asked the instructor of the tutorial but all she said was she has a Bernina with a ditching plate for the walking foot. Not a big help since I cannot afford a Bernina.
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Old 09-06-2012, 04:28 PM
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Well, I am no expert and am also self-taught.
In my humble opinion, I don't think your quilt will fall apart as long as your seams are sewn together well. (This is where I always seem to have trouble even though I think I am so careful.) When you quilted, did you have it securly basted, either with pins or spray baste or whatever? Did your sandwich move around when you quilted or was it stable?
Now, how far apart is your quilting; did you follow the recommendation on the batting package? I have STID and not and have had no problems with them falling apart.
If you follow those "rules" I think it will be fine.

P.S. I love your "name" 2blackcats! And what made your firtst quilt a disaster?
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Old 09-06-2012, 04:39 PM
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The seams in the first quilt were not "exactly" 1/4 inch all over. I thought they were, but when I put it together I realized they were not. I also didn't square the blocks because I didn't know about that. in my typical fashion I just dived right in. Fortunately, I really wasn't a sandwiched quilt with batting. I live in Las Vegas and wanted something very lightweight for the spring and fall. The summers are so hot here we just use a sheet. But I liked the bed covered. So I just sewed a backing fabric to it and added some decorative stitches here and there and it serves the purpose.

I am afraid I also didn't know about how close the quilting stitched needed to be when I did the second quilt. I used Hobbs batting and they are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart except between the block it can be as much as 1inch to 1 1/2 inches. So since it is a gift to my oldest girlfriend ( about 45 years of friendship) I think I will go back and SID to be safe. It won't be the prettiest, but she is no sewer and will appreciate the thought and time. It is for cuddling in front of the TV since she lives in PA and it gets colder there. I pinned it and there didn't seem to be any problems with keeping it together. From now on I will probably spray baste and pin. I did it in sections and kept the whole quilt pinned until I stitched it.

Do you use a walking foot or a ditching foot? I just read a tutorial here and she showed a straight stitch foot (that I already have) which should work really well.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:03 PM
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You don't need to add any stitching to the finished quilt. I can't give you a good answer to your question because the machine I have a walking foot for can't quilt and my quilting machine doesn't have a walking foot. I love the SITD foot for SITD. That little plow just keeps the stitching so straight. I lessen the pressure on the presser foot if it's a thick batting. Personally, I find the walking foot slow and noisy, but I do use it if I feel I have to zigzag around a quilt before I bind it.

Edit: I do not SITD a quilt before I FMQ it unless it's part of my quilting design. Once it's pinned, it's not going anywhere. The only place I consistently SITD is between the border and the quilt as I sometimes have a slight space there. Plus, I like the frame it gives.

Last edited by irishrose; 09-06-2012 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:19 PM
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My machine also has a walking foot sort of built in, so I can use my SID foot at the same time. However, I think if I had to choose, I would choose the SID foot. (I think that is what a stitching foot is? It has a guide that you aim for the seam?) I can SID very easily with that foot.

I agree with Irish Rose that you don't need to add any stitching to your quilt. What you have done should work very well for you.

I may not be expert enough to offer a real experienced opinion, and I am curious to hear what others say.

At any rate, welcome from Texas. This is a great place for a beginning quilter to be. I have been quilting a little over 2 years, and I have always had all my questions answered easily here.

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Old 09-06-2012, 06:29 PM
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I never stitch in the ditch because I'm BAD at it. For straight line quilting, I'm a fan of echoing or cross hatching. I don't have a STD foot so I can't speak of that. A walking foot is nice when doing anything thick. It helps when sewing on bindings or sewing heavy duty fabrics.

I feel confident that your quilt does not need any additional quilting added. It sounds more heavily quilted than many that have survived years around here. Of course, if it makes you feel better, add more quilting.

Some of the best advice on the quilting process I've heard came from Holice here on the board. (He is a famous quilter in case you don't know.) Holice says you need to be thinking about how the quilt will be quilted as you make the quilt. I used to just make a quilt and then try to figure it out. Now that I plan it as part of the quilt, it is much easier.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:54 PM
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I think using a walking foot is the biggest thing to improve my quilting. I very rarely get puckers on the back. I would be tempted to use the walking foot and just be careful to stay as close to the ditch as possible. I have a Viking and splurged for the walking foot with the snap on insert for stitch in the ditch. It has been worth every penny! It can also be used with the decorative stitches, which most walking feet can't.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:08 PM
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One thing about stablizing the quilt before your freemotion it is that 9 times out of 10 you can then remove a significant amount of pins. This will lighten the quilt making it easier to move the quilt around as you free motion it. Diane Gaudynski reccommends stabilizing the quilt everytime before FMQ.

I do have both a walking foot and the sole for stitch in the ditch. Having the SITD foot is nice but with a little practice you can do nice ditch quilting with just a regular walking foot. One thing that really helps is having nicely pressed seams and nested seams. The last quilt I did I did not use the SITD foot. I used the regular walking foot. If money is an issue, then I would get the plain walking foot. You'll get a lot of use out of it. You can SITD or straight line quilt or echo quilt, or just plain piecing and sewing on your binding.

Just as an aside. I no longer pin my quilts. I use spray basting. It holds really nicely, I do the stablizing quilting and then my FMQ. The quilt stays together but is much lighter and easier to move around and I don't have to stop and start to remove pins.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:15 PM
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Was it Hobbs 80/20 batting? If so, you definitely do not need to add additional quilting. Hobbs 80/20 can be quilted up to 2" apart and will still hold together very well.

I personally don't do SID anymore. I have a Bernina, a walking foot for it, and a foot with the black "plow" that rides in the ditch, but I still don't like to do SID. It makes me nervous because I see all the little deviations in the line and *hate* that. This makes me tense while I stitch, and my eyes practically fall out of my head trying to watch where each stitch is going to fall. Nowadays when I want to do SID on a quilt, I use a serpentine stitch instead. With the serpentine I can depress the foot pedal to max and casually feed the quilt to the machine; small deviations in the stitching are unnoticeable. Plus I like the soft look the serpentine stitch gives to the quilt. (However, I would not use serpentine if I were planning to FMQ.)

The only reason to do SID before doing FMQ is as an additional basting tool. Once you do the SID around the blocks, the layers are not going to shift on you while you do FMQ. A much easier way to achieve similar stability is to (1) heavily starch your backing fabric before layering, (2) spray starch your top before layering, and (3) spray baste with 505. Starch stabilizes fabrics so they don't distort while you sew. Spray basting secures the quilt layers together at all points, making shifting much less likely. (Thread basting and pin basting, in contrast, secure the layers only at the points where they intersect all three layers -- usually about a fist's distance apart.)

So, my advice at this point is simply to perfect your FMQ. If I had to choose between the two feet for straight line quilting, I would choose the walking foot because it is so much more versatile -- will work for cross-hatch quilting, piecing, and sewing on bindings. The "plow" foot is limited to SID.
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:08 AM
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Do you starch the top and bottom before you start piecing the top together? I am currently working on blocks that have triangles and I have noticed that I need to be careful with the bias side of the one triangle size, it is about 9 inches across the bias. (I forget the proper name from geometry).
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