How to “Stitch in the Ditch”

How to “Stitch in the Ditch”


Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips from SewVeryEasy,
my name is Laura. “Stitch in the ditch” is a form of quilting. What makes it really easy is we get to quilt with the feed dogs up. Let’s establish what a ditch is. When we sew our two layers of fabric together, we normally press the seam allowances to one side. The side where it’s just a single piece of fabric would be considered the “ditch” or the lower side. The side where you have the top fabric and the two seam allowances would be considered a hill. If we turn it over we have the single piece of fabric here and the three layers of fabric right there. This area along the lower side is the ditch. If you think of a road and a ditch, the road is higher than the ditch. This seam right along here is the ditch. That is where we’re going to sew. The stitch line needs to come as close as you can to that row of stitching that put these together. As you’re stitching this line you’re going to have the high end and the short end, which will make this foot of your machine go high on one side and low on the other. Even though it’s not a lot, it will have that foot go on a bit of an angle. Even though we want to stitch right along that area, the foot is going to want to come off so we’re constantly having to pull this foot back into place. The walking foot does help because it is feeding the fabric from the top and the bottom, but you still might have that foot wanting to go to one side so you’re having to constantly keep that straight. We need to have a foot that’s going to follow that edge. You can get feet with this little edge sticking out from underneath the bottom. You can get a foot that’s designed with this little edge in it and it is a “stitch in the ditch” foot, but you can also use other feet. You can use a blind-stitch foot or an edge foot. Both of them have these little bars. That bar is going to run right in that ditch. Having that edge, it’s going to be very easy to follow that seam. Some walking feet will come with an attachment that has that edge on it. My Bernina does have that edge foot. It’s very easy to replace that foot. There’s a little screw on the end. You’re going to loosen that screw, the bottom foot will come off, and I’m going to be able to replace it. Once those little pins are snapped into place you just need to retighten that screw. Now I have a walking foot that has that edge and it’s going to really help stitching in the ditch. When you’re stitching a full quilt, most times you’re not going to have all of your seams going in the same direction. For example, I have my road or hill here and this is my ditch. On this side, I have the hill and my ditch is on this side. So you’re going to stitch along the ditch side and when you come to an intersection you might need to just move the fabric slightly one side or the other to line that ditch up with your foot. Then you’re going to be able to continue stitching. But by maintaining, always stitching in the ditch and not in the hill, it’s going to have that nice straight line and it’s going to bury those threads right in that ditch so that stitching becomes almost invisible. Let’s go to the machine and try some stitching. I’m going to stitch this entire baby quilt in the stitch-in-the-ditch technique. It’s quite manageable, so I’ve only put pins in it to hold my layers together. To stitch I’m going to start with the seam in the center, then I’m going to work those seams going out. Going in the other direction I’m going to do the same: I’m going to find a center seam and work my rows out. As I’m stitching with the edge foot, this little bar is going to be able to run along the ditch on one side. When I come to an intersection I’m going to be able to take that edge and have it run along the ditch on the other side. I’m not having to look at that needle going up and down. I just need to focus on this area right in front of that needle. When I come to that intersection I’m just going to pick that needle up and put it right in that ditch. Now my edge is going to run along the ditch on this side. By using this edge as a guide, my needle is always going to follow right behind. To put the walking foot on, take this little U-bar and line it up with this edge and slide it on. From there you can lift it up and attach it onto the post. My needle is centered so I’m going to be able to put that bar right in the ditch, regardless if it’s on the right or the left side. So it’s going to work the same as the edge foot. I will be able to just guide my fabric following that edge. Here’s an example of the stitches going right in the ditch. My high point, or my hill or road, is along this edge and along this edge. I was able to stitch all the way along here, but when it came to this area, I had to come here and then stop and come along this edge. And you can see how those stitches just get buried in the ditch. Stitching in the ditch is a very simple way to get your quilting done. It’s as simple as following those seams and stitching right in the ditch. You could try many different feet on your machine and see what foot works best for you. Thank you for joining me today on SewVeryEasy. Feel free to subscribe and, as always, come on back. Let’s see what we’re sewing next time
in the sewing room. Bye for now!

68 thoughts on “How to “Stitch in the Ditch”

  1. I’ve done that and have that foot, but I never realized I could move the foot at the intersection. Thank you.

  2. Always learning new things watching your videos or should I say “the right way” to do things! I think (about 100 years ago) in my Home Ec class she had us press the seams open an then stitch down the center.(?). It was a long time ago so maybe I am not remembering it correctly – 🙄. Great video Laura thank you so much for this!

  3. LOVE you laura😍😍it's because of you and only you why i start to quilt and i adore it …..thing you💐💐💐

  4. Thanks for this tutorial. It is very informative. I have done a lot of stitch in the ditch, and you have helped make me more accurate. Also, love the baby quilt you were working on. Any chance of getting the pattern and fabric information on it? Love your videos. Thanks!

  5. I love to stitch in the ditch, it’s honestly my go to quilt stitch. I’m not comfortable doing free motion, it’s a disaster when I do. 🤣

  6. My Viking has the stitch in the ditch foot attachment for the walking foot and it is great!  Makes it so easy to do!  So worth the price of the foot.

  7. Thank you for this tutorial. I've wondered how to do this well and accurately. I feel confident enough to try it now!

  8. Oh wow— I’ve been quilting 20 years and I learned why my stitching strays off the ditch! Wonderful explanation.

  9. Laura,
    Thank you for all of your wonderful tutorials. You have a great way of communicating process.

    I have always sent my quilt tops to get quilted, but it is getting rather expensive and I would like to be able to quilt smaller items myself.
    I noticed you uses pins for this baby quilt but what sizes and brand of safety pins do you recommend when having to pin baste for larger items?
    I do have some arthritis in my hands and wondered if you ever used a pin fastener or is it not a real useful tool?
    Thanks "sew" very much:)
    Pam

  10. Laura,
    I have always sent my quilt tops to get quilted, but it is getting rather expensive and I would like to be able to quilt smaller items myself.
    I noticed you uses pins for this baby quilt but what sizes and brand of safety pins do you recommend when having to pin baste for larger items?
    I do have some arthritis in my hands and wondered if you ever used a pin fastener or is it not a real useful tool?
    Thank you for all of your wonderful tutorials. You have a great way of communicating process.
    Thanks "sew" very much:)
    Pam

  11. Hello Laura,
    Thank you very much for your return message.
    I am asking what is the best brand of safety pins to purchase, for pin basting a quilt. I have seen a safety pin fastener that is supposed to make it easier on your hands to close the safety pins but not sure if it is one of the "can't live without items"
    I have not purchased these items but I am in the process of gathering things that will be need, to start quilting smaller quilts.

    Thank you for the tutorials you share with us. YouTube is wonderful!
    Pamela Granger

  12. Struggled with this stitch, on the verge of giving in when I found your video. Thank you so much Laura, had it mastered in minutes, am now a fan! Will be watching you from now on, thanks again, and greetings from Bonnie Scotland!

  13. I love watching your videos. You’re prepared and get right to the project! No camera messing, looking for items, or unnecessary chatting. You have a pleasant voice, give great explanations, and stay on point. 😊 THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I look for your videos when I need help, but I love all your great ideas and information!👍🏻

  14. This lady right here has taught me so much about sewing.. I will continue watching her for a very long time…THanks so much..

  15. beginner here… lovie the video..thanks…. oh my I love your silver hai ;r girl… keep it up….. hair is amazing 🙂

  16. I so appreciate your videos, Laura. You explain so much in an easy to understand way – even for beginners like me. I have learnt tons just from watching you, even on topics, like dressmaking, that don't interest me just now. Thank you so much, and keep the great vids coming…you are such an inspiration…Tracy

  17. Thank you for the simple and very comprehensive explanation of the ditch, how to manage changes of side of ditch and where to sew first – a really super video.

  18. I need to stitch in the ditch a paper pieced block and it really hard for me to tell the hill and the valley……..your pink and grey fabric is super adorbs!

  19. This is the only video I've watched that explained and illustrated stitch-in-the-ditch clearly. Thank you SO very much!

  20. Thank you for your help. This was the 1st time I was going to try "Stitch in the Ditch". My problem is, I already I ironed & lightly starched the back side of my rows open! I watched how to do this long time ago, to help the fabric lay flat. It looked like I shouldn't have ironed them open, to make a hill, on one side of the ditch. I'm going to hate ironing them back to one side. Can I still try "stitch in the ditch" with leaving them ironed open ? Or should I just Ditch it, & do it on the next quilt I make?

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