What Is Stitch in the Ditch?

Posted by Alfonsina Uriburu on

It’s actually a quilting technique that many patchwork pros love. Why? You're about to find out.

Stitch in the ditch means that you quilt by following along the patchwork seam lines. So, say you’re doing a patchwork quilt top that’s made of square blocks. To stitch in the ditch, you’d stitch along the seams that join those square blocks — aka the ditch — which creates a square quilting grid. If the blocks themselves are pieced, you would also quilt along those internal seam lines.

Why Should I Do It?

1. It’s quite easy, especially for beginners You already have seam lines, so that gives you a straight path to follow. This means you don’t have to mark lines before quilting, so you're even saving yourself a step (and time).

2. It gives you an automatic design choice. Many quilters struggle to choose a quilting design for their patchwork. Stitch in the ditch delivers a ready-made plan that’s automatically scaled for your project .

3. It adds durability. If you’re making a tiny patchwork quilt, you want to make sure the stitching on your pieces holds up to wear and tear. Think of stitch in the ditch like an extra safety feature — nothing is coming apart!

4. It gives your piecing visual attractive. By following the patchwork designs, you’re enhancing and emphasizing the lines and angles of your blocks, making them that much more interesting visually. It’s also great for when you don’t want your thread color or stitch lines to compete with your patchwork piecing, or when you’ve chosen bold, showy prints that you want to shine!

Where Do I Stitch?

There are actually two schools of thought here.

  1. First, you could stitch literally right in the ditch that's created by your patchwork seam — the needle should pass between the patchwork pieces. When you quilt this way, it makes the lines nearly invisible from the right side of your material. 

Just note that this style of stitch in the ditch won’t work for seams that have been pressed open. Only when your seams have been pressed to the side can you stitch in the literal ditch and still secure the quilt top to the batting and backing.

2. Which brings us to our next option — outline quilting. If you prefer pressed-open seams or visible quilting lines, you want to use this method. All you have to do is aim your quilting needle just to the side of your patchwork seam.

Once the quilt is finished the inconsistencies won't even be noticeable.

Stitch in the ditch means that you quilt by following along the patchwork seam lines.

Joining fabrics

Using the Stitch in the ditch presser foot you also can:

  • Hold fabrics in place while leaving a space to allow open decorative stitches such as open weave stitches. Reference marks to increase accuracy.
  • Can be used to line up and sew edgings such as lace to edges of other fabric;
  • Centered blade enhances ability to follow the edge of the fabric
  • Snap on Edge Joining foot is perfect for precise and easy joining of fabrics, even sheers and difficult fabrics

Find your stitch in the ditch foot HERE

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  • I love stitch in the ditch! It is the best technique for modern quilts… I can’t wait to try your method!
    Thank you

    Cecilia on
  • I am a big fan of stitching in the ditch. I have often used the technique in dressmaking to hold facings in place. It’s also great for quick quilting when you don’t want to worry about marking and following a pattern. The seams are your pattern!

    Great post explaining the technique to others. Hope they enjoy using it as much as I do.

    Kimberly Schimmel on

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