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Stitch in the ditch quilting - What am I in for?

Stitch in the ditch quilting - What am I in for?

Old 09-10-2018, 06:20 PM
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Default Stitch in the ditch quilting - What am I in for?

I've never done my own machine quilting, but I'm contemplating giving it a try.

Tutorials abound on how to machine quilt by stitching in the ditch. But what I'm Not picking up on is what are the pitfalls or difficulties one can run into? I'd really like to be aware of them Before I run into them, so that I can keep an eye out and be prepared to deal with them.

My quilt has 14 x 20 patches, each 3"x3". All the seams are pressed to one side or another. Although I tried to match every cross-seam, some are a little off. My batting is a cotton/wool blend.


Last edited by QuiltnNan; 09-11-2018 at 12:36 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:58 PM
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I have trouble keeping the stitching in the ditch. For me it’s easier to stitch 1/4 inch or so beside the ditch.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:00 PM
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I only SITD. My machine came with a SITD foot which makes it fairly easy to stay in the ditch. Perhaps you might consider such a foot.

I know several quilters who stitch right next to the ditch and prefer that, saying it is easier.

You don't have to stitch in every ditch, you know. I use Warm and Natural batting which says you can stitch up to ten inches apart. I don't stitch that far apart, but I don't stitch in every ditch.

You might want to practice on a tiny sandwich to see what you think. I know a lot of quilters hate SITD. I like it, but then I don't like a lot of stitching on my quilts.

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Old 09-10-2018, 07:47 PM
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I have tried to stitch in the ditch but I found that the stitch was sometimes "hidden" under the fabric beside it. It made it look uneven to me and I never liked it, so I started to stitch on the "upper" side of the ditch (top of the fold) and I get a much better look. It's unorthodox in the quilt world but works for me.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:52 PM
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I often stitch in the ditch. I've never had an issue with it. I also don't use a walking foot, just my regular foot. I've done both in the ditch, and about 1/4" away. Like Dina, I like it, and do minimal quilting. I prefer that to a heavy quilting.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:59 PM
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I took the terminology literally when it said "stitch in the ditch." My problem was that the needle was cutting the seam stitches, not each stitch, but enough for me to say it was not for me.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:28 AM
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I agree with quiltsRfun and stitch about 1/4 inch from the seam. By trial and error I found that the stitch size and straightness was effected by the number of layers of fabric, especially where blocks or points met, when I stitched too close.

I use a quilting foot and find the edge of the foot is a good guide. I also increase the stitch size.

You might also want to consider how much you want your stitches to show. When I first tried SITD I used a white top stitch thread - it looked terrible and emphasised every wobble! I now like to use a light grey or cream thread that blends in with the fabric. The result is you can see that the fabric is quilted but you can’t see the stitches as much. Sometimes, when grey or cream isn’t appropriate for the whole quilt, I quilt blocks individually in a colour that matches the block.
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Old 09-11-2018, 02:59 AM
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​If can accept that you are not going to get it perfectly in every ditch, you will be alright. It is easier to stitch on the side without the seam allowances but because that changes across a quilt, you will end up having to sometimes stitch on the seam allowance side. A nice way to stitch over the ditch is to use the serpentine stitch instead of straight stitch.
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Old 09-11-2018, 03:53 AM
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My tip is to fluff your quilt often. Don't let it hang over the edge of your table putting too much tension for the machine to fight with. Also, smooth the section you are stitching on so you don't end up with puckers on the back. You can do this.
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Old 09-11-2018, 04:56 AM
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I find it easier to FMQ than stitch in the ditch. LOL
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