What is Ditch Stitching and
How do you use it within your quilts, and patchwork?
Why will Ditch Stitching give many more Dimensions your quilts?
Keep reading to find out.
For many years, I used to make all our clothes, which with four children
that amounted to a lot of sewing. I was very particular with my seams and
the way that I got them to sit nice and the top stitching to not only make
edges look sharp and crisp, but also for the effect it gave.
When I started doing patchwork so many years ago now, it was only
natural for me to add in extra stitching. In fact I never really thought about it,
I just did it, as if it was a normal practice.
Over the years I discovered that not many people would actually do this
extra stitching within their quilts, that is known as ditch stitching. You do see
more of it these days than you used to, but still there seems to be a bit of a
stigma about doing it. People say to me sometimes that they can’t be
bothered as they want to move onto their next quilt and it would take too
Wouldn’t you rather have three quarters as many quilts that have a more
dynamic look, then many quilts that are flat and one dimensional?
I know which I would prefer, but then again we all live in a world of
personal choice and it’s not my place to tell you what to do, but I do like to teach people things that can enhance their personal quilting journey if they so choose to try out the things that I may write about. I’m often suggesting to people to slow down a little and really enjoy the journey of this one quilt that they’re working on, and create something that’s just that little bit more special.
What is Ditch stitching you may ask?
Ditch stitching is where you sew around every individual shape that you
have created, every little flower petal, every little leaf and every little “other”
shape that you’ve created within your quilt. Or if you’re doing piecing work,
then around every block, square, triangle, hexagon, etc.
When ditch stitching around appliqué shapes etc, you do this with your
feed dogs dropped, quilting foot on and do it after you’ve layered your quilt,
but just prior to your actual quilting, usually using either a monofilament thread, which is my choice or a matching thread to your top fabric.
If you’re doing this within pieced shapes, then I’d use your normal
sewing foot, preferably an open toed foot for better vision, feed dogs up,and sew within the ditch of the actual seam. Once again I’d prefer to use a monofilament thread here, but some fabrics, shapes or designs may be better with a matching thread but do make sure that you sew right into the seam otherwise it’ll be very noticeable.
By doing this very simple extra step, your flowers will look more like
flowers, your shapes and designs will have more dimension. Every part of
all my quilts are sewn like this, including sashings, borders, piecing, etc, etc.
You can see within this image of the back of my “A Caterpillars dream”
quilt that shows you the effect, but you must remember that mine has
much more impact once again as I use “Trapunto” under ALL my work. This image though will clearly show you what I mean when I say I stitch around “EVERY” piece. I used Monofilament thread for the top, and a matching 100% cotton Aurifil thread for the backing.
If you feel uncertain about using monofilament thread, or if you say my
machine doesn’t like it, or if you think it’s too hard of a thread to use then you need to check out this paperback book that I wrote several years ago now.
I’ve been using huge amounts of monofilament thread for over 30 years
now and at different times I’ve been asked by different companies, shops etc
to trial out certain brands of monofilament thread etc. You may now
understand by this that have a lot of knowledge about monofilament thread.
Over the years with teaching many classes within the area of patchwork,
quilting etc, I quickly discovered that the majority of students didn’t understand “How to use monofilament thread”. The majority of students would say that their machine doesn’t like it, it always tangles, it melts under the iron, etc, etc.
I then started and still do even now, that when teaching appliqué the first
hour of the class is spent teaching students how to get their tensions set, and how to have their appliqué stitch set to easily sew monofilament thread. I’ve never had a class where I was unable to have everyone & every machine set to use & sew monofilament thread perfectly.
This was such a success and I felt it was so important that I then put all
that “exact” information into this very very popular paperback book called....
Understanding & Using Monofilament Thread, including How to set your
machine. The information contained within this book is very valuable for when ditch stitching, as well as doing appliqué and many other things that we use monofilament thread for.
Moving back to ditch stitching, you’ll also find that with this extra
stitching, it also really holds your quilt layers together much better and it is also easier to quilt.
your personal creative sewing journey.
I’ll be back once again next week, with something else.
In the meantime
Try to find a little time just for you, yourself,
as your very important in your life as well.