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Thread: Stitch in the ditch

  1. #1
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I know this sounds stupid but why is stitch in the ditch so popular? I guess as a predominately handquilter I just don't understand. I only do that when I machine quilt and then I use a decorative stitch that straddles the seam line. The only time I stitch in the ditch by hand is if I am using a cheater's panel that looks like piecing or applique but is just printed on the fabric. I have done some of those that are fake Baltimore Alblum prints. Even other quilters don't realize they are fakes until they get real up close and personal with my work.

    When handquilting an item that has been hand pieced I make sure I quilt at least an 1/8 or 1/4 inch inside the piece to renforce the stitching of the pieceing.

    My thinking is that the quilting stitch be it hand or machine is what makes it a "quilt". Even if mine is not perfect I want others to know that at least I tried.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    I'm not at all sure why it's popular. I am not all that keen on doing it, because it has the effect of not showing. Plus, if the seam allowances are both ironed in the same direction (i.e. towards the darker of the patches), then I find it quite hard to sew on the seam line anyway. If I do intend to SID, I often iron my seams open. Shock, horror. I reason that when quilters were advised to iron both to one side, it was probably in the times when patches were hand stitched, and at that point, were relatively weak. Now we mostly machine patches together, and in my case, I use quite a short stitch. Ironing them open is a little harder, but it is much easier to quilt over - you don't 'fall off' the higher side. If ironed open, it is also easier to hand quilt over the seams too. I don't seem to have any problem lining up patches either, though nestling in seams together when they are ironed both to one side is also good, except I often found that I had them ironed the wrong way to do that. Hey ho, life is ever thus.

  3. #3
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    I am not new to sewing, but am new to machine quilting. Previously, I always tied my quilts. Since I discovered a walking foot, I've been in heaven creating new quilts and machine quilting them!

    Stitch in the ditch is a great way to build your skills and confidence in quilting. I've since taken a class in free motion quilting and really enjoy that. Hopefully I will perfect my skills there and be able to do some of the beautiful stitching that I see here on the board. I still stitch in the ditch too, depending on the quilt and who it's for. Until I'm pretty comfortable with my fancy quilting skills, I will likely continue.

  4. #4

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    Do you use a Long Arm Quilter or your sewing machine?

  5. #5
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baskets
    Do you use a Long Arm Quilter or your sewing machine?
    Not sure if this was for me, but I don't have a long arm, though I do have a nice domestic machine.

  6. #6
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    stitch in the ditch is a utility stitch and is very useful for this reason.

    i like to use it when i'm quilting on my frame. i use it to sew the 3 layers together in large areas - this is done by free motion although you could do it frame-less on the sewing machine with a walking foot and then attach the quilt to the frame.

    once i have the utility stitching out of the way i'm able to remove my middle rod on the frame and i can move my quilt back and forth along the rods and work on the more intricate designs without have to tie off the thread and move the quilt forward.

    if i never want the stitch in the ditch to be seen i use long basting type stitches as the utility stitch and then when i'm done with my intricate work i cut and remove all the basting types stitches.

    if i had a 17 inch throat i wouldn't have to go thru this but i work on a domestic machine and have yet to see the point in spending the high thousands need to purchase this type of setup.


  7. #7
    Super Member Bill'sBonBon's Avatar
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    I think stitch in the ditch looks really good on certain patterns and like Kluedesigns says,if you have a domestic macine like I also do, it is a great way to quilt. You don't really want to see the stiching,it makes some patterns pop out. If you use the poly instead of cotton it makes the pattern stand out and look very soft. The last time I made a quilt with cotton every one in my family said never do them one with that stiff stuff. Some of the cotton is really soft now I used moutain mist on that one. All concerned thought it was too flat. Poly and stitch in the ditch work well together.
    BillsBonBon

  8. #8
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    I like stitch in the ditch for some quilts but I really prefer to FM quilt.

  9. #9
    Super Member Ducky's Avatar
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    I stitch in the ditch and really don't mind doing it. I can't afford to take all my quilts to a long-armer, I don't hand quilt (If I did, it would take forever to get anything done between work, family, etc.), and I haven't learned to do FM....yet. I feel lucky to get quilting and counted cross stitch done.

  10. #10
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    I guess I use it because it is fairly user friendly, still working on my free motion which is not as friendly to begin with.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    I use SID to anchor the blocks of my quilt - for me, it defines separate spaces and I don't have to worry about the fabrics shifting as I free motion within those defined spaces. It may not show very well on the front (which is okay, I really don't want it to be the focus on the front) but it helps define the quilting on the back, and I really like the look of that. It's also nice to be able to put on the walking foot for some easier quilting :lol: :lol:

  12. #12
    Junior Member Arizona Sunrises's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpspeedy
    I know this sounds stupid but why is stitch in the ditch so popular? I guess as a predominately handquilter I just don't understand. I only do that when I machine quilt and then I use a decorative stitch that straddles the seam line. The only time I stitch in the ditch by hand is if I am using a cheater's panel that looks like piecing or applique but is just printed on the fabric. I have done some of those that are fake Baltimore Alblum prints. Even other quilters don't realize they are fakes until they get real up close and personal with my work.

    When handquilting an item that has been hand pieced I make sure I quilt at least an 1/8 or 1/4 inch inside the piece to renforce the stitching of the pieceing.

    My thinking is that the quilting stitch be it hand or machine is what makes it a "quilt". Even if mine is not perfect I want others to know that at least I tried.
    I work 50-60 hours per week, don't have time to learn to do FMQ at this point in time, and refuse to send my work to a long-armer...and just simply don't have the cash to buy a long-arm for myself. SID is quick, simple, to the point, and gets the job done. FMQ is something I'll eventually learn to do, but it probably won't be until I'm considerably older and retired. :)

  13. #13
    Super Member Yarn or Fabric's Avatar
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    Stitching in the ditch drives me batty. I hate not getting it exactly right so I prefer to stipple just so I'm not constantly looking at that one spot that I missed it just by a hair :lol:

    So you could say that I'm not a fan of it. I have a friend that does it. It is the only way she quilts...

  14. #14
    Super Member Joan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky
    I stitch in the ditch and really don't mind doing it. I can't afford to take all my quilts to a long-armer, I don't hand quilt (If I did, it would take forever to get anything done between work, family, etc.), and I haven't learned to do FM....yet. I feel lucky to get quilting and counted cross stitch done.
    Ducky says it all. I took a FM class and realized that I would have to practice A LOT before I would be skilled enough to tackle a "real" quilt. Stitching in the ditch is much easier, the "road is there"---just follow it. I hope to be able to FM some day and would like to try my hand at hand quilting, too. It is (in my mind anyway) the most beautiful quilting. My great grandmother made quilts that are all hand pieced and hand quilted. There is nothing that compares!

  15. #15
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    I'm going to repeat what Joan said:

    "Stitching in the ditch is much easier, the "road is there"--just follow it"

    I will usually add a little more quilting after the SID is done - don't have to mark a lot of lines -

    I think it looks nice on the back of the quilt




  16. #16
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    I only hand quilt , so never use it

  17. #17
    Super Member Iluv2quilt's Avatar
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    I stitch in the ditch for all of my wall hangings and table runners. I would love to learn how to free motion quilt. I have used the long arm for larger quilts but am just learning how using a pantograph. I'm not good at freehand on the long arm yet.

  18. #18
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    Stitching in the ditch is great for someone who cannot afford to hire a long-arm quilter (like myself), and wants to quilt their own projects. I also like echo quilting a 1/4'' from the seams.
    I agree with the others.....free motion takes lots and lots of practice.
    The Maine Quilt Show is next weekend, and quilting stencils is on my list of things to check out. Maybe then, I can spread my wings and delve into something a little fancier than the ditch.

  19. #19
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    I don't stitch in the ditch very often. One quilt I'm working on now has "melons". Since the melons are comprised of 6 different fabrics sewn together and the melon edges are curved, the seam allowances want to misbehave, so I basted them down (by hand) and then I stitched in the ditch around each melon, so the seam allowances are now unable to flop around. I don't need stitching in the ditch is something that is required or preferable very often, but sometimes it is the perfect solution.

  20. #20
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    Correction: Replace "need" in my last sentence with "think".

  21. #21
    Senior Member chickadee_42us's Avatar
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    Interesting post. Simple question many ideas.

  22. #22

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    Question. This is just the thread that will help, as I am contemplating a quilt using stitch in the ditch.

    Do you all use regular thread when you quilt stitch in the ditch, or do you use invisible thread?

  23. #23
    Super Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Hi, Maryann. Most time I use invisible thread on top, but use a complimenting or sometimes contrasting thread on backing side. I've had some of the invisible thread break on me, but I adjusted my tension and it usually goes very smoothly. I also have a SID foot for my Pfaff, which makes all the difference in the world.

  24. #24
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I do stitch in the ditch, quite often, and then I sometimes add free motion on top, sometimes not. I would like to develop better skills at FM, so I am working at it, but I won't give up SID even then.

    SID is not easy. It's actually hard to stay in the ditch (not that I do stay in it completely). It's very time consuming, but I like the effect of outlining the patches, making the individual fabric pieces pop up and pucker after washing. SID doesn't interfere with the pattern of the piecing.

    I am finishing up the SID on a log cabin with 1" strips, so after this process the layers will be well stuck together. I haven't decided whether to FM on top - but if I do, nothing will be shifting around so FM will be smoother.

    So that is why I SID. I think there will always be a solid place for SID in quilting. I think that you don't see it often on quilts done by longarmers, because it's hard and time consuming for them, and they don't have the same need to stabilize the fabric layers, not because it's unattractive.

    So, SID'ers of the world, unite!

  25. #25
    Senior Member billswife99's Avatar
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    Can I add another question here? Do you stay exactly between the fabrics for SID or are you supposed to be on the low side?

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