Today’s Topic: Stitching In the Ditch-When, Why and How
Welcome to Lesson Nineteen of The Better Machine Quilt-a-long based on my book 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting.
Find all of the previous Lessons HERE.
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Good Morning, Quilters!
First, I would like to thank all of you who have shared quilts and comments on the LKQ Facebook group page! YOUR quilts are amazing and YOU constantly inspire me with new ideas. I love the spirit of sharing and helpfulness within the group!
Next, I want to call out the fabulous ideas shared in the comment section relating to ideas and experience with basting techniques. Please check that out for more basting ideas. We will definitely need to “circle back” to the basting lesson as soon as we get through our 25 Week Quilt-a-long! Speaking of that–can you believe we are already starting Lesson 19!
If you haven’t been keeping up–don’t worry! The lessons will be here when you are ready.
This week, we will be covering two separate but related topics, stitching in the ditch and stabilizing.
Stitching in the Ditch
Whenever you stitch a seam between two blocks in a quilt, a “ditch” is created. Some quilters press the seams of the quilt open, in which case the “ditch” is between the two pieces. Other quilters press the seams to one side. In this case the “ditch” is on the side opposite the seams–sometimes called the “well”.
Stitch in the Ditch quilting, sometimes abbreviated as SID, is stitching a line through the ditch created by a pieced seam.
When to Do Stitch in the Ditch Quilting
Once the layers of the quilt are sandwiched, it’s time to start quilting.
One option for quilting an entire quilt is to stitch in the ditch of all the major blocks. For example, if you were working on a log cabin quilt, you could stitch in the ditch of all the seams and you would have a perfectly quilted quilt.
The advantage of this method is there is no design necessary. You don’t need fancy stencils or to learn any motifs. Simply outline every block and all of the seams and voila–your quilt is quilted.
From a design perspective-this is easy…
Three Methods of Stitch in the Ditch Quilting
Stitch in the ditch quilting can be stitched machine guided or free motion.
Machine Guided Stitch in the Ditch
To do machine guided quilting, it is best to use a walking foot or dual feed function so the quilt layers don’t shift. Set the stitch length, adjust the tension and stitch. The machine controls the stitch, so all you need to do is control the quilt.
The down side to machine guided quilting is you can only stitch in one direction. Any time you need to change directions, you must turn the quilt. When the quilt is small, rotating the quilt is easy, however, the larger the quilt, the more difficult this becomes!
Free motion stitch in the ditch
Another option is free motion stitch in the ditch quilting. It is harder to maintain a perfectly straight “in the ditch” line when free motion quilting, however, it is not necessary to rotate the quilt as often.
So the trade is less perfection, but much easier!
Free Motion Stitch Over the Ditch
I often adopt a hybrid solution…Free motion stitching over the ditch. Instead of trying to stitch perfectly straight within the ditch, I stitch a slightly wavy line over the ditch. The wavy line looks intentional (as opposed to trying to stitch straight with accidental waves).
Cindy Needham: ESS
In her Craftsy video, Design It, Quilt It, Cindy Needham recommends ditch stitching “ESS- Every Stinking Seam” before adding decorative motifs on top. In this method, the blocks are outlined and appear set within the batting using very light weight thread. Additional decorative motifs are then layered on top. This is a time consuming method, but the results are beautiful!
Best Thread for Stitch in the Ditch Quilting
Use lightweight thread in a matching or neutral color for most stitch in the ditch quilting. You don’t want to notice the stitching line, though you may see it. Stitch in the ditch quilting is functional without being decorative. so choose thread accordingly.
Stitch in the Ditch Quilting When, Why, How
When: As soon as the quilt is layered. Any time during the quilting process
- Why: A design-free way to quilt
- To”set” the pieced design before free motion designs are added on top (a la Cindy Needham)
- Or to stabilize a quilt (more on stabilizing later this week).
How: Machine guided, Free motion (in or over the ditch)
Practice and Samples
Stitching in the ditch is best seen in person. Photos of my quilts don’t tell the story. To create your own samples this week, either find a few “orphan blocks” for practice or create two mini quilts shown here.
To make each mini quilts, Cut 36 squares: 2-1/2 by 2-1/2. Piece them in a 6 x6 checkerboard. Add a 3/4 inch small border (cut size + 1 1/4 inch) and a 2 inch border (cut size 2-1/2 inches. (Page 98 of 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting).
Make at least two!
Tomorrow: Four Samples of Stitch in the Ditch Quilting
Thursday: Stabilizing Quilts
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thank you!
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