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Stitch in the Ditch

Old 06-26-2018, 10:34 AM
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I have just completed a Lone Star Log Cabin top and am getting ready to quilt it. I am questioning the need to stitch in the ditch. Half of my mind says I should and the other half says I don't need to but neither half has a good reason. So, why do we stitch in the ditch, and if we do, how much is really needed?
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Old 06-26-2018, 11:40 AM
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There are a lot of different reasons for stitching in the ditch. It stabilizes the quilt before you add more decorative stitching. Patches that are outlined by ditch stitching tend to stand out more. Ditch stitching doesn't show, so it enhances the patchwork without overshadowing it. And stitching only in the ditches means we don't have to think up more elaborate designs.

All of those are good reasons to stitch in the ditch, but not every quilt requires it IMHO. If your quilt is well basted, and if you have another quilting strategy in mind, then don't feel that you have to SITD. Sometimes you want the back to have the same quilted texture as the front, and ditch stitching could interfere with that. If you've pressed your seams open then there is no ditch to stitch in. And if you just can't stay in that ditch, you may want to try a different approach, such as quilting beside the ditch or using a different design entirely.
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Old 06-26-2018, 11:57 AM
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I usually stitch in the ditch the blocks lines and then do individual designs inside the blocks. If I am doing an all over meander, I don't SITD.
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Old 06-26-2018, 05:11 PM
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I have yet to see neat SITD. If I straight line stitch, I do it about 1/4" away from the ditch.
I mainly just do a large type stipple or meander.
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Old 06-26-2018, 05:27 PM
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SITD before doing other quilting helps your quilting not to 'roll over' the defining seam lines of the quilt. You can try it with and without, and see which your like better.
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Old 06-27-2018, 08:00 AM
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I stitch in the ditch if I want to accentuate the piecing design.
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:21 AM
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I think some types of pieced patches 'need' STID more than others. Bias patches are among those and Lone Star has a lot of bias. I suggest you give it a try in a small area or make a small sample and see what you think. You might need to take out a bit if you don't like it. Make a little decision before making a big one that could trap you.
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Old 06-28-2018, 01:00 AM
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I very seldom stitch in the ditch. In 42 years of quilting and hundreds of quilts I have probably done stitch in the ditch half a dozen times. I don’t get why some people believe you have to. If you don’t want to - don’t- it isn’t a requirement to quilting
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Old 06-28-2018, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by dunster View Post
If you've pressed your seams open then there is no ditch to stitch in.
There is always a ditch. It's the line between the two fabrics. It's probably even easier to see when the seam is pressed open.
Sometimes stitch-in-the-ditch is used to hold everything in place before you start other quilting. Then it wouldn't matter if the seams were pressed open. Those threads will hold it as you wish.

Last edited by maviskw; 06-28-2018 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 06-28-2018, 06:39 AM
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The 'ditch' is created when you press to the side, leaving one side of the seam higher than the other. You then stitch very close to the higher side. Stitching down the middle of an open seam, you'd be stitching on top of stitches only, not on fabric. You therefore wouldn't be stabilizing that fabric, and could potentially weaken those seams by breaking the original stitches.
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