There are all kinds of unique and funny terms associated with sewing and quilting, as most sewers probably know. Those who use quilting machines like the Janome DC2014 may have heard the term "stitching in the ditch" and wonder exactly what it means. Learning to stitch in the ditch is a common quilting slang term  and is one of the more important techniques used in the creation of beautiful projects using Janome quilting machines.

What Is Stitching In the Ditch?

In terms of quilting, the “ditch” refers to the lower side of the seam allowance between two stitched pieces of a quilt top. In other words, the ditch is the side of the sewn quilt top pieces that lie in the opposite direction from the seam allowances. Stitching in the ditch reduces the amount of bulk and creates a tighter seam, more effectively securing the many layers of the quilt sandwich. Therefore, sewing on the "low side" of the seam allowance is the preferred method when it comes time to sew the sandwich together using quality Janome quilting machines.

How To Stitch In the Ditch

Achieving great results on projects sewn on quilting machines like the Janome DC2014 means carefully assembling the various pieces, then cleanly layering the quilt sandwich for stitching. The following process must be used for smooth, flat layers that can easily be stitched on the low side, producing the most even results:

  • Make the Quilt Sandwich - After the top pieces are assembled, the seam allowance from the different pieces should be ironed flat to one side to prevent bunching during the layering process. Create the sandwich using the required layers, smoothing them out each time before the next layer is added. Once the top is laid on, it should be smoothed and flattened, then basted together.
  • Attach A Walking Foot - Although a one-quarter inch foot is generally used for sewing the quilt top together, a walking foot is preferable for stitching through the multiple sandwich layers. This foot automatically moves the fabric layers forward together, ensuring nothing shifts out of place during stitching.
  • Find the Ditch - When ready to begin sewing over the quilt top, start out by locating the “ditch” on each piece. Find the seam allowance underneath and determine which way it is laid. The ditch side is the opposite side, which should feel slightly lower than the seam allowance side. This lower indent, right beside the fold of the seam allowance, is where the top stitching should be done.
  • Position the Foot and Stitch - Once the ditch has been located, position the presser foot so the needle will enter on the low side as close to the seam as possible. Stitch slowly and carefully, allowing the seam between the two pieces to keep the needle traveling straight. Sew each piece in the same way, with the needle moving into the fabric on the low side of the seam to keep everything flat, smooth, and even.

Stitching in the ditch with quilting machines like the Janome DC2014 is merely a matter of understanding where the ditch is and positioning the needle so the top stitching is done on that side of the seams. As time goes on, this technique will become second nature to those using Janome quilting machines, helping them to create securely sewn, beautiful quilts for display or everyday use - that's all there is to it!

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