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Machine Quilting Basics

Machine-quilting stitches are continuous and even, giving a quilt a precise look. With practice and these tips, you can create keepsake-quality quilts with your sewing machine.

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In-The-Ditch Machine Quilting

Quilting “in the ditch” means stitching just beside a seam line (on the side opposite the pressed seam allowance).

The stitches disappear into the seam, which makes a patch, block, or motif stand out from its background. You also may wish to stabilize a quilt for more decorative quilting by first stitching in the ditch on any straight lines, such as between blocks, inside borders, etc. It is one of the easiest machine-quilting methods (contrasting thread is used for illustration purposes).


1. Attach a walking (even-feed) foot. Find the lengthwise center seam line of the basted quilt sandwich. With the needle just to one side of that seam line, sew along it from border to border, positioning your hands so they form a hoop around the needle.

2. Turn the quilt crosswise; adjust all the layers so they are smooth. Stitch the crosswise center seam in the same manner.

3. Return the quilt sandwich to the lengthwise direction and stitch in the ditch along the seam lines in a quadrant to the right of the center seam, working from the center outward toward the border.

4. Turn the quilt and stitch in the ditch on the seam lines in a quadrant on the opposite side of the center line, again working from the center outward toward the border.

5. Repeat in the remaining two quadrants of the quilt.

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