A great thing about machine quilting is that there are many techniques you can use to get different results with your quilting project.

When you want to allow the stitches on the top quilt to create their own design, try free-motion quilting with your sewing machine.

On the other hand, if you have gorgeous patterned fabric or an intricately pieced design and don’t want to detract from that, you might try using the stitch-in-the-ditch technique.

When you use this method with a Janome Memory Craft 6500P, you get a secure quilt top with recessed stitching so your piecework or fabric pattern shines through!

Stitch-In-The-Ditch Stitching - The Basics

The stitch-in-the-ditch quilting technique is one that’s very easy to do with any quilting or sewing machine once you understand the technique and how it’s done.

This method involves stitching your quilt sandwich together by running the needle just to the side of the seams on the quilt top so they are barely noticeable, resulting in the stitching more or less disappearing into the seam.

Stitch-In-The-Ditch With Your Sewing Machine

When using the stitch-in-the-ditch technique for machine quilting, let these easy tips help you do it correctly to create a clean-looking quilt top where the pattern and not the top stitching is on display:

  • Use the Right Presser Foot - If you need help stitching a consistent line to the side of the seam, use either a walking foot or an edge foot that sits right in the seam; both work wonderfully for ditch stitching on a machine like the Janome Memory Craft 6500P.
  • Stitch on the Low Side of the Seam - Because the stitching itself adds a bit of bulk to the quilt top, always stitch on the low side which is the side opposite the direction where you pressed the seam allowance so the stitching side and allowance side will look even.
  • Choose Your Effect - True stitch-in-the-ditch sewing means you’re stitching as physically close to the seams in the quilt top to make the stitches nearly invisible. For a slightly different effect, you can also try outline stitching, which is stitching â…›” or ¼” away from the seam to create a slight inside border effect.
  • Always Lift to Turn - Between needing to keep the layers of the quilt sandwich from shifting and also needing to find the precise edge to each seam to do stitch-in-the-ditch correctly, always lift the needle and presser foot when you turn your quilt, then put them back down in the right spot to start the next line of stitches.
  • Stay Centered - You’ll have an easier time keeping your stitching aligned right beside the seam if you sit centered in front of the needle and keep your eyes focused on where the needle will drop as you slowly stitch along.
  • Always Follow the Seams - Even if your seams don’t match up perfectly in the corners, don’t do anything like stitch at an angle to meet the next seam to keep going. Just follow the ditch of each individual seam, even if that means stopping at the end, moving the needle, and then starting again in the right position.
  • Spread the Fabric - Ensure precise stitching by spreading the fabric slightly with your fingertips just as it’s passing under the needle so it’s easier to guide the needle to fall exactly where you want it.
  • Add More Stitching If Necessary - Depending on your design and the batting you use, there may be large areas where the layers may separate, so add additional straight lines of stitching horizontally or vertically to secure those layers so the quilt holds together well.

Highlight Your Quilt Pattern With Stitch-In-The-Ditch

When you stitch together an intricate quilt top using patterned fabric or a pieced top, you want to let that design speak for itself without stitching adding additional texture.

Using the stitch-in-the-ditch technique with your sewing machine, you can securely sew a quilt together with stitches that practically disappear into the quilt top seams!