Stitch-in-the-ditch means quilting along the seams where your pieces come together. This method allows stitches to disappear into the seam, which makes a block or unit stand out from its background. You can use this method all on its own, or you can pair it up with more intricate quilting throughout your quilt.
Stitch in the ditch

Prepare Your Machine

There are several tools that can help you when stitching in the ditch to make sure that you're traveling right along those seam lines and not veering off. We recommend using a walking foot to make sure all of your layers move through the machine evenly. Some sewing machine companies sell specialty feet that you can pair with your walking foot that are specifically designed for stitching in the ditch. The stitch in the ditch foot has a metal guide right in the middle so you can guide it perfectly along your seams. If you plan on doing a lot of stitching in the ditch, it's probably a foot worth purchasing.

Try Rulers

Quilting rulers are really helpful when it comes to stitching in the ditch, because that extra stability can keep you from veering off of your seam-line. There are different quilting rulers for domestic machines and longarm machines, so make sure you're using the correct ruler for your project. You also want to make sure you change out your machine foot for one that is specifically made to be used with rulers. See more about this technique here.

Watch for Bulk

When stitching in the ditch, quilt on the low side of the seam. Seams have a high side in the direction you've pressed your fabric and a low side where your fabric and pressed away from (this is assuming you don't press your seams open). If you quilt on the low side of the seam, you'll have less fabric to sew through, so you'll get more even stitches that nest nicely in the ditch.

Hide Your Stitches

If you choose a color of thread that matches the fabric or use an invisible thread, your stitches will blend nicely with the quilt and won't stand out against the quilt. Of course, it's almost impossible to get all your stitches exactly in the ditch, so you may notice a few stitches here and there across your quilt. But washing and drying the quilt to give it a little wrinkle will help hide all the stitches and define the quilt's texture even more.

Stitch in the ditch