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

  1. #1
    Member heron's Avatar
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    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.

    Advice?
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 09-11-2018 at 12:36 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  2. #2
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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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.

  3. #3
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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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.

    Dina

  4. #4
    Senior Member Chester the bunny's Avatar
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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.
    Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
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  5. #5
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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.

  6. #6
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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.

  7. #7
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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.

  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9
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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.

  10. #10
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    I find it easier to FMQ than stitch in the ditch. LOL

  11. #11
    Super Member hobbykat1955's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elnan View Post
    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.
    this happens if you SID with seams ironed open and not to one side...Should not SID w/open seams or you will cut threads

  12. #12
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    I'm an oddball and I actually like to STID. After many quilts and much practice it's not the horror it was at the beginning....but I'm a type A perfectionist and I had to learn that it wasn't going to be perfect. In the beginning it took lots of concentration and I was so tense (because I thought it had to be perfect) that it was exhausting. Many times I had a tension headache after a quilting session. It really helps to use a matching thread so when (not if) you make a mistake, it will blend in better.

  13. #13
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    I stay out of the ditch and prefer to stitch beside the ditch. It has a topstitch kind of look. What drives me crazy about my stitch in the ditch style is that I can't stay in it. Sometimes the thread disappears and sometimes it shows. I'm pretty good about stitching about a 1/16 of an inch to the same side the seams are pressed.

  14. #14
    Super Member luvstoquilt301's Avatar
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    Before I got my HQ16 I would do serpentine stitch on top of the ditch using my built in walking foot on my Janome. It looks pretty on both the front and back.

  15. #15
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocoellie View Post
    I find it easier to FMQ than stitch in the ditch. LOL
    Same here.

  16. #16
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocoellie View Post
    I find it easier to FMQ than stitch in the ditch. LOL
    I do, too! I thought I was the only one!
    Patrice S

    Bernina Artista 180, Singer 301a, Featherweight Centennial, Rocketeer, Juki 2200 QVP Mini, White 1964 Featherweight

  17. #17
    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    I iron my seams to one side and then stick over both seam allowances. Any little wiggles in the line don't show like they do if you stay right in the ditch. In the ditch every time you wobble out you see the squiggle, next to it hides that squiggle better. But I find doing an allover crosshatch using blue painters tape to be the easiest. Just lay a line of blue tape over the whole quilt on a diagonal slant. Use the edge of the tape as your guide to stitch. Line the edge of your foot along the tape and sew all the way across. Turn the quilt and sew along the other side. Then move the tape and line it up along the sea you just sewed. Sew along again. Keep moving tape and sewing until your done. Then lay tape across in the other direction and do the same thing. Perfectly lined up crosshatches. Google "How to quilt using painter's tape" for videos.
    I promise not to buy any more fabric until I see something I really like. Or it's on sale. Or I think it might match something.

  18. #18
    Super Member rryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocoellie View Post
    I find it easier to FMQ than stitch in the ditch. LOL
    Me too!

    Rob
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  19. #19
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    I have done a lot of SID quilting with my Pfaff 1471. It is a mid 1980's machine with a built-in walking foot.

    The largest quilt I pushed through this machine was about 82 x 63 inches - and had warm and natural batting in it.

    I pin baste closely -
    Only stitch in one direction - so that if it is going to pull - all the pulls will go in the same direction
    Use rubber gloves for "traction" while handling the quilt
    I use more of a "puddling" than "rolling up the quit" to get it through the machine
    When sewing "on the bias" - I very carefully straightened out each area while I was sewing it
    Occasionally I had to do a small jog to stay in the ditch if one of my joins was off a bit - not a big deal

    I like to SID - probably because I have not figured out how to do FMQing!

  20. #20
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I'm one of those who hate doing STD. It makes me tense up. Once I realized I could use a serpentine stitch instead, or just go "organic" and do wavy lines with my walking foot, I quit STD completely.

    My first piece of advice with STD is to go slowly. When I started STD, I thought it could go fast (and maybe it can for other people). In order to stay in the ditch, however, I found that I had to go really slowly and stop often (with needle down) to re-arrange my hands and the quilt.

    My second piece of advice is to resist pulling the seam apart and resist trying to manipulate the quilt sandwich too much. You don't realize it until afterwards, but too much pulling and pushing while sewing causes distortion in your quilting lines. If you do too much manipulation, it can even cause your stitching lines to ripple the quilt.

    I found that using a walking foot helped me reduce the tendency to over-manipulate the sandwich. Guiding the quilt is good; man-handling the quilt is not!

  21. #21
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I prefer FMQ in a large stipple or just meander. If I do some sort of SITD I sew 1/4" from the seam line. It looks much neater to me.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  22. #22
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    I do a lot of STD too because just about all the quilts I make are to give to people so I can't afford to have them quilted & besides I don't like the stiffness quilting leaves. I have been known to go straight in the ditch, up the side, over the road & down again! Sometimes my seam reaper & I are really good friends & then other times it seems to go okay. Once in awhile I'll get a little creative & try something different but for me STD works!
    Fritzy

  23. #23
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    STD is a nice way to highlight your piecing. I often do it, but I also vary how far from the seam I quilt with my walking foot. Sometimes quilting 1/4" to 1/2" away from the seam looks good. It all depends on what you feel like doing and what the piecing is. I also do cross-hatching with blue painter's tape and free motion stippling, sometimes all in the same quilt, depending on the pattern. I find free motion a bit stressful, so I often just do walking foot quilting. Jaquie Guerin (sp?) has a very good set of classes on Craftsy you might consider watching. She is very encouraging.

  24. #24
    Senior Member janjanq's Avatar
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    I'm glad a read this thread. I feel better about not being the only one who has problems with SITD. I usually topstitch about 1/8" from the seams . I don't use a walking foot. Sometimes in the borders I'll use a decorative stitch. I've also tried the painters tape, but occasionally stitch on the tape instead of beside the tape. I've even used my embroidery machine to stitch designs in blocks. Of course the easiest thing to do is take it to a longarmer.
    Last edited by janjanq; 09-12-2018 at 05:49 AM.

  25. #25
    Super Member wildyard's Avatar
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    I am another who prefers to stitch 1/4" beside the ditch. It gives an outline effect and it's less noticeable when one has a little wobble now and then.
    Linda Wedge White

    I believe UFOs are like scraps, ferns and dust bunnies. Once you get two, they send spores out into the air and more just happen anywhere the spores meet.

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