4 Tips for stitching in the Ditch
Can I confess something? I actually like Stitching in the Ditch. I know….it may sound crazy, especially since I am a “close enough is good enough” kind of quilter. But I can’t help it! I just love how it looks when all the seams are quilted down.
I am sure that some of you might not agree…..there’s even a chance that some of you view it as a swear word.
What is Stitching in the Ditch (otherwise known as SID)?
Stitching in the ditch is stitching along the seams of a quilt, either with hand quilting, with a walking foot or even with a free-motion quilting foot. It can be the only quilting on a quilt, or it can be a part of a more complex machine quilting design.
Quilt Pattern is “Wild and Free” by Cut Loose Press
Tips for Stitching in the Ditch
To me, stitching in the ditch is kind of like waxing my eyebrows. No one notices it, but it makes my whole face look better. The best stitching in the ditch is the kind that you don’t even notice. Here are a few tips to help you get the best results with your SID.
1. Stitch in the Ditch when you want to!
Let’s pretend that you want to SID. The next question might be, “When should I do it? Before I quilt the blocks? After?”
It can be hard to know when and where to start. But the good news is that there is no right answer……do it whenever you want!
As with everything else quilting related, there are several different ways you can do the same thing. There are some quilters that prefer to stitch in all the seams, then come back and quilt the blocks. Personally, I prefer to stitch in the seams as I go. That way, I can use the stitching along the seams to move from block to block.
The more that you quilt your quilts, the more you will discover your preferences. So just go for it!
2. Use a matching thread color.
Using a thread color that matches the quilt top will cover a multitude of quilting sins! It will help make any bobbles and quilting errors just disappear…..especially after washing the quilt.
When quilting, either SID or otherwise, I prefer using a 50 wt thread (such as Aurifil). Since it’s thinner than other threads, it helps the quilting blend in even more.
I can almost hear you thinking……”What if the the two fabrics are completely different colors? What do I do then?”
If I am trying to stitch in the seams between fabrics that are completely different colors, for instance black and white, I usually tend to pick a thread that matches the lighter color. There really is no particular reason, it’s just a personal preference.
3. Aim for the low side.
If the seam is pressed to one side, there will be a higher side and a lower side. If you try to aim for the lower seam, the quilting will almost sink into the quilt. If the seam is pressed open, just err on the side of the seam that matches your thread.
4. Don’t get frustrated.
As with any other skill, the more you practice, the better you will get. Try not to get frustrated if you make any mistakes. Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on the purpose of the quilt. You made the quilt for a reason, focus on that instead!
Free Video Tutorial
Still on the fence about stitching in the ditch? Here’s a video tutorial that shows how I approach stitching in the seams of my quilts! Using my new machine quilting ruler, Slim, and the Wild and Free quilt pattern, I show you just how easy it is!!
What do you think? Do you like to stitch in the seams or do you avoid it like the plague? Let me know what you think (or leave any questions) in the comment section!
Hi Angela – would you stitch in the ditch if you were using an all over free motion design ? thanks
Love your quilting designs! And you make it look so easy.
Question: How did you finish the corners of the border (where the curvy lines did not extend)?
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Angela,what color thread do you use on a multicolor quilt top like this one?
Also, where could I buy your rulers?
I don’t mind stitching in the ditch.
Also I have been trying to email you but have not gotten a response.
I have a tip as an alternative to SID-Use a decorative stitch instead when you’re sewing along the seam. Recently I had a triangle quilt that I needed to finish quilting on my back up sit down (my preferred one was in the shop) that didn’t have a large throat space, so I was limited to SID. After looking at the piecing it was obvious that the points to the triangles didn’t quite come together in some places so doing a straight line was either going to make the mistakes obvious or look like I had too much quilting juice while quilting it. So I used a wavy decorative stitch in place of the typical straight stitch. Totally hid any mistakes, was just as easy and the pattern the quilting made on the cotton back was GORGEOUS. I wish I could post a picture.
I don’t mind doing SID, but only on my longarm – I can’t quilt anything on my DSM!! I always use rulers to keep straight when doing SID…do you have a ruler preference for doing curved SID with a longarm?
I use to always stitch in the ditch because I was afraid to do anything else, but I got SLIM and have been trying your dot to dot. I love how you showed us we can use both.They look great together! Thanks Angela
Thank you for these tips! I actually have started using 100 wt silk thread when I stitch in the ditch. Talk about hiding a multitude of quilty sins! I also played with lengthening the stitch length a bit. I would love to know your thoughts on that. I will definitely be paying attention to which way the seams lay now that you pointed that out! Thanks for being an inspiration to us and for reminding us that it’s about enjoying the process and focusing on the recipient and the reason for the quilting and not at all about perfection!
WHAT KIND OF MACHINE ARE YOU USING IN THIS VIDEO? DOES IT REGULATE THE STITCH LENGTH?
I thought stitching in the ditch meant stitching in the actual seam line which I found I could only do if I pressed the seams open.
I quilt on a domestic machine that has built in even feed. I purchased an edge stitch foot, and it makes SID much easier. I also like to use 100 weight thread (usually silk) and use a short stitch length. Given all that, i’d Still rather free motion any day!
I’m interested in purchasing the special foot and thick guides foir machine quilting a l a longarm. Please give me name of company.
I admit, SID is about all I’ve done consistently. My dominant right brain finds it the easiest decision to make. 😀
I picked up a Little Gracie frame awhile back and I’m just starting to venture beyond straight lines and SID. I’m supposed to be on a spending freeze, but dang you are tempting me with all these fun rulers. (Oh, hi right brain. There you are again.)
Stitching in the ditch became a swear word in our house when I tried my first queen-size quilt on my home machine. After groaning in frustration for the umpteenth time, my husband asked what I was doing and I replied “ditch-quilting.” He thought I said “bitch-quilting” so I’ve called it that ever since. It may not be polite, but it says it all. But I persevered and SID goes much smoother now. I’ve tried skipping it but free-motion results are always better on my home machine when I anchor the blocks first. Thanks for all your great tips.
For me it depends on the quikt. Even though know the quilt looks better with sid I really don’t enjoy doing it. I’m going to try did while quilting the design, I really appreciate that tip. I also like the fact that it doesn’t matter if you did before or after fmq! That makes a big difference for me as well! Thank you Angela.
I enjoy SID, but sometimes am not sure whether to do it all first, then go back and fill in, or just do each row as a whole (SID and filling in). I find that if I do SID, it is easier to go back and fill in the rest of the quilt, especially since I float my quilt tops on my long arm machine. However, some quilts don’t need SID to achieve the effect I am after. It is reassuring (as a newer long arm owner/user (only 7 months) that there isn’t a right or wrong way, and the advice to go for the lower side of the seam. Thank you!
Question for you. Are the corners of the curvy border symmetrical or random?
I press all my seams open – is there an alternate method to SID that I can use?
So enjoyable to watch you. Thanks for the inspiration?
I too like SID! I challenge myself to get better at it each quilt.
To be honest, I have tried SID very little, but do believe I like your idea of SID as you go so that you can use it to get around each block as you FMQ them. That is probably what I would do. I also like the idea of SID the entire quilt first in some cases so that the quilt would be completely stable before FMQ each block. Both have their advantages.
I love SID on my quilts. Keeps everything straight and even. I’ve learned that the little “wobbles” you get when you accidentally go out of the ditch will never be seen, so don’t waste time frogging them out!
I kind of like SID, but it does get a bit boring. I like the challenge of trying to do it really well.
Stitching in the ditch doesn’t scare me. All it does is point out that my seams aren’t that straight either