Rose's Quilting Blog

Ditch Stitching Your Quilt! Do You Love it or Live in Fear of it?

Ditch Stitching Your Quilt! Do You Love it or Live in Fear of it?

Ditch Stitching, Within Your Quilt.

Do you need to Ditch Stitch your quilt?

Do you know just where and how much to Ditch Stitch your quilt.

The above questions, I’m so often asked about.
To me it’s always personal choice just what you decide to do, as it should be.
I myself, ditch stitch Everything.
I guess it’s another thing that I’m almost addicted to....
Trapunto & Ditch stitching.

Many years ago when I first starting making quilts, I found that by
ditch stitching every seam, join etc, it gave the quilt a better structured finish, as well as it made the quilt stronger with how it was all held together.
I know much of this also came from my days of dress making, as I used to top stitch so much of my sewing. This gave items a better finished, tailored look, as well as strength and body to my sewing.

When I do my ditch stitching, I always look at the quilt and ditch stitch
from the CENTRE outwards, initially ditch stitching any sashings that I may
have, as this’ll be the start of holding your quilt firm and in place.

The general rule here is to always sew one seam in one direction, and on
the return seam on the other side of the sashings for example, sew this one in the opposite direction, meaning sew one side of the sashing downwards and the other side of the sashing upwards.
This stops your sewing pulling in the one direction. Dress making has the same rules.

Once you’ve done all the sashings over the entire quilt, then you can
start once again from the centre and work your way out towards the first seams that you have already ditch stitched.

If you’re working on a pieced top and part of that top has a design such
as a “Churn Dash” that we all possibly know quite well, then if this was myself, I would ditch stitch around each triangle and rectangle that are within this design, making sure that your stitches are right in the seam.

You’ll normally find that once you start to sew within this seam you’ll become very aware of the lower and higher side of the seam, which is dependent to which side of the seam you have pressed you’re underneath seam to.
Remember though, if you have two abutting colours like a red against a cream, if you get a little out of the seam, it’ll show up enormously.

These above steps help to hold the quilt firm, gives the quilt a fantastic
look on the reverse side of the quilt, and you could also add some quilting within the centre square and maybe the outer corners. You can do this at the same time as you do the ditch quilting if you chose to.

I’d generally use a monofilament thread in the top only, of my machine
for my ditch stitching . My bobbin thread would be matching cotton to my backing fabric.

If you’re not sure how to use monofilament thread or how to set your machines tension, or you don’t like to use monofilament because you “think your machine doesn’t like it”, then can I suggest that you check out this book
that I’ve written specifically to help students overcome their fears of monofilament thread and it takes you through each step of how to set your machine, so it “Loves” monofilament thread.

If you choose not to ditch stitch your quilt at all or very little, every time
you move the quilt it’ll separate from the top and not do the quilt a lot of good, also when you wash your quilts, the layers won’t hold together when wet and heavy, so you risk damage happening to your quilt.

I myself leave nothing unquilted, but this is just me being who I am.
I may be a little obsessive on the amount of ditch stitching that I myself personally do, but I do love the total aesthetics of the way it brings your quilts to life.

If you look at this image above here, showing the back of my
“A Caterpillars Dream” Best of Show quilt, which is also just under 3 mts square, you’re  able to see how I’ve  ditch stitched every petal, flower, leaf, every diamond within my baskets, birds etc etc.

By ditch stitching so intensively it does make your work really stand out,
although this has also had Trapunto under my Applique as well, which you can also learn to do by checking this out ... Basic Trapunto... it’s easier to do than you may think.

To ditch stitch on this scale is very, very slow.
There were many days where I’d sew for approx 8 hours and not go through one full bobbin of thread.

This was due to the reason that this particular quilt is extremely thick,
and often I’d need to hand turn the wheel on the machine so as not to break so many needles…..yes I kept the steel companies in business while quilting this quilt.

Some of my Rose buds have up to approx ten layers of fabric plus
wadding to go through. If you look at this image here, where I’ve ditch stitched each petal of the rose’s you’ll also be able to see how this enhances your design.

Now there’s no need to ditch stitch at this level but in reality all quilts do
need to have a certain amount of ditch stitching, if for no other reason than to hold your quilt layers together.

This below image here, where I don’t have anywhere near the amount
of ditch stitching within it, still has been enhanced through the use of the ditch stitching as this is what has made the ladies dresses and umbrella stand out as it does. It’s actually ditch stitched through the layers of their dresses.

Although ditch stitching is great for actual seams, I truly love it as a tool
for enhancing your quilt and bringing it to life.

I’ll leave you here to ponder on just what you’ll do with your next quilt.