The Free Motion Quilting Project: Stitching in the Ditch - Part 2

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stitching in the Ditch - Part 2

I don't know about you, but I'm dying to get back to more filler designs! Let's finish up Stitching in the Ditch with these two videos and get back to new fillers tomorrow!

In this video I mainly focus on how to stitch in the ditch around the applique shapes. Again I was aiming to minimize my thread breaks so that there would be a lot less work to do once the quilt was finished.

One easy way you can minimize your thread breaks is to combine shapes together with a straight line.

Here I've connected the leaf shapes to the stem with a simple straight line rather than having to break thread to quilt around both leaves:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
If you start on the white dot on the stem, you'll be able to go around the whole flower motif without having to break thread once!

Even though this isn't strictly "in a ditch", it still works well and is hardly noticeable in the finished quilt.

I also minimized my thread breaks around these border motifs as well:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Now overall it took 2 1/2 hours to quilt this 36" square quilt in the ditch in free motion. It then took another hour to tie off and hide all my threads - so 3 1/2 hours total!

So even with minimizing thread breaks as much as I could, I still ended up with a lot of work to deal with after the quilt was finished.

This is one of the reasons I love Section Quilting because it combines Stitching in the Ditch with free motion fillers so there are far fewer thread breaks over the surface of the quilt.

Of course, that's only if you're not changing thread colors all the time! In all 4 quilts, I worked hard to create a sharp contrast between the black and blue quilt backgrounds and the white thread so that way you could see what I'm doing in the videos.

Now let's catch the final video summary of Stitching in the Ditch:

Of course, the finished Morning Glory quilt looks almost exactly the same as it did before I quilted it because all of the thread is hidden in the ditch.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
But this isn't a bad thing! If you're wanting a really simple finish to a quilt, and you don't want to distract from the pieced or appliqued elements of your quilt, then Stitching in the Ditch is probably the best option.

While this method doesn't really ADD anything to your quilt top or the overall design of your quilt, it also doesn't take anything away.

Now for my personal opinion: I would have to say overall Stitching in the Ditch is my least favorite way of quilting a quilt.

Of course, this is my personal opinion, but I caught myself really quickly getting obsessed with perfect stitches and far more picky over my stitch quality than I normally am.

But it's still a very important, fundamental technique for quilting.

By learning how to stitch your quilts in the ditch in free motion, you will learn not only loads about speed control, but also how to stay on a line and maintain better control over your quilt all at the same time.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm going through filler design withdrawal! Let's get back to the project tomorrow for Day 210!

Let's go Quilt,

Leah Day

Are you enjoying this new video series? Click Here to support the project to keep these videos online and always free!


  1. Boy have I learned a lot. I only wished you lived nar me so I could take classes. Thanks for saring


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