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Thread: Stitch in the Ditch

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sailorwoman's Avatar
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    Stitch in the Ditch

    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?

  2. #2
    Senior Member lyric girl's Avatar
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    If you stitch in the ditch your quilt the areas will stand out more.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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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.

  4. #4
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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.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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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.
    Another Phyllis
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  6. #6
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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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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  7. #7
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    I stitch in the ditch if I want to accentuate the piecing design.
    Lisa

  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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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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  10. #10
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    Quote 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.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  11. #11
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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.
    Lisa

  12. #12
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    It is your quilt, quilt it is you want. No rules saying you must STID. Personally, I do not care much for STID. If I want to accentuate a piece, I prefer to do an echo stitch. My go to quilting is a simple diagonal, quick and easy on a home machine but secure enough to firmly hold the quilt together.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe'smom View Post
    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.
    Yes, I agree with joe'smom
    Sally

  14. #14
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe'smom View Post
    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.
    Perfect and accurate description of ditching. OP you have gotten many excellent replies and it all boils down to what you want for your quilt. The notion of "SITD is required" probably stems from show quilts. In the case of show quilts, while ditching is not required, when you get to that caliber of quilting where every detail can make the difference between winning and not winning, a quilt that is SITD will beat out one that is not (assuming the two are competing in the same category). It could be the one point that separates winning or not.
    As far as a lone star is concerned, when I made mine I echoed 1/4" from every seam, I did not ditch. The echoing reinforced the fabric and the seams as well as accentuating the LS piecing design. I then did "fancy" quilting in the background fabric. That particular quilt was hand quilted not machine quilted. I have seen many machine quilted LS that are not ditched but done with motifs and designs that accentuated the star. Either continuous curves in every single small diamond that makes up the points of the star or an all over pattern that fills the large diamonds that form the star points, ignoring the piecing within those large diamonds. I have even seen lonestars with an all over quilting design. It all depends on what you are comfortable doing, what you are capable of doing and what look you are going for. Google images of Lone Star quilting designs to get a feel for what others have done and pinpoint exactly what look you are going for with yours.
    BTW lone stars are notorious for "volcanoing" up in the center. Quilting will often tame it down so that is another thing to take into consideration.

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