Can You Stitch In The Ditch By Hand

There’s no risk in crafting innovative designs with new quilting methods, ‘stitch in the ditch’ being one of the fan-favorite techniques. Have you already been scratching your head by the term ‘stitch in the ditch’? Here’s your guide to understanding how everything about this quilting method.

You can always practice the stitch in the ditch method as it looks extraordinary because the needle goes through the seam on the fabric’s right side. In fact, it secures the fabric on its wrong side, leaving a nice finishing with an invisible stitch on its right.

The technique commonly gets performed in matching color threads. With this kept in mind, the stitches meld into your chosen fabric and aren’t noticeable from some gap. Read on to learn the best method to stitch in the ditch by hand.

Can You Stitch In The Ditch By Hand?

Yes, you can. Generally speaking, sewers perform this quilting method by using their machines. But if you are choosing a thicker quilt, you can use your hands. Thick batting might be too thick and spongy to fit under the sewing machine or regular presser foot.

You can practice your usual hand-stitching method along each seam with the up & down (running) stitch. To perform a running stitch, you can follow a simple up & down motion. But ensure that you use a thicker quilting needle for thicker quilts.

In simple words, achieving this stitch by hand is possible. After all, you can be more precise while working by hand. The stitches are meant to get tucked between two fabrics along the seam. So, when you stitch slowly by hand, it just allows placing the stitches precisely.

How to Stitch in The Ditch By Hand?

There are three significant usages of stitch in the ditch:

#1 Finishing Quilts

This technique for sewing uses a walking foot and is useful for finishing the quilts off. It finishes quilts as it stitches batting and lining together. The ditch is the indent made between joined fabrics.

#2 Finishing Binding

These are appropriate on cuffs, waistbands, and necklines, just in case you want invisible finishes. The ditch stitch neatens off the facing with the bound edge.

#3 Waistbands

Waistbands get gathered on the skirts that are generally joined on the ditch stitch method.

But to proceed with the method, remember:

  • Focusing on the area where the will needle enter the fabric (ditch)
  • Securing the stitches firmly at the end and beginning of stitching
  • Opening the seam while sewing
  • Using the smaller sized needle to be more accurate
  • Avoid turning big bulky quilts under your needle to go around the corners

Now, to get a professional finish to your creation, you can follow the below-offered methods. Try out this technique on a scrap first!

Method to Stitch in The Ditch For Quilting

Stitching cannot get noticed when this technique is performed. However, it still creates indents in quilts. One can see the stick on the quilt’s back. Here’s presenting the steps.

Step 1: Joining Your Patchwork

To follow this step, you have to prepare your quilt by joining the patchwork together. Press your stitched seams to open in order to reveal the ditch appropriately.

Step 2: Preparing for Batting

In this step, you require cutting and trimming your quilt’s batting & lining. Also, you’d need to tack or pin beneath the quilt.

One Quick Note:

If you are hand-stitching, always remember to be a perfectionist when it comes down to sewing. Always prevent your fabric from shifting in the process of sewing. What you can do is pin the patches and be careful while stitching them!

Step 3: Changing The Stitches

You need to change your stitches now. For this reason, carefully come near the center of your quilt. Use a quilt sewing needle when working on the batting part.

If it is thick, always choose a thicker quilting needle. On the other hand, using a universal needle would help you skip some stitches.

An Extra Note:

Always consider backstitching both the ends and beginnings of every stitching row to prevent unraveling carefully. And don’t forget to complete your quilt with binding around its edge.

Method to Stitch in The Ditch For Waistband

Ditch stitches for a cuff or waistband are not that complex. To learn the nitty-gritty, consider the following.

Step 1: Stitching The Waistband

Always choose the right sides together when stitching the waistband to a skirt. It is important to specify the seam allowance in your sewing pattern.

Step 2: Pressing & Pressing

Choose the wrong side of your fabrics— press seam allowance towards the waistband’s top. Press the waistband’s top over 6 to 12 mm (1/4 to 1/2 inch).

Step 3: Folding & Pressing

Fold the waistband down on the wrong side. This way, it covers your stitching line. Pin and transfer pins right in front to stitch.

Step 4: The Stitching Process

Stitch the waistband’s seam on the skirt’s right side. You’ll see small overlapping at its back. If you don’t want to go for entirely invisible stitches, choose decorative stitch to sew seams.

Method to Stitch in The Ditch For Bias Tape

To finish armholes and necklines, ditch stitches can be used for bias tape. For this reason, you can use the bias tape available in the market or make one yourself. The common one comes in 12mm or 1/2 inch.

Step 1: Preparing The Bias

You can choose a double-fold bias. Ensure that one side is shorter. In case you are sewing the curved area, place it on the ironing board with the shorter side up! Iron the bias to get a smoother finish while sewing armholes and necklines.

Step 2: Clipping & Stitching

Open the bias tap only to pin its shorter side. Keep the right side together right to its raw front edge of the neckline. In this part, stitch around 6mm (1/4 inch) from its edge in the crease.

If you want to establish curves, clip into its edge and ease out the seam. You would not require clipping if the sewing is to be done on a straight edge.

Step 3: Pressing Bias To The Back

In this step, fold up the bias back to bring it right to its back. Use the wrong side to press the bias over your stitched line. It will catch in stitching in the latter part. After this, pin down the binding.

Don’t forget to transfer pins to the right side as sewing should get performed on its right side. Here, you should avoid running over the pin.

Step 4: The Process of Stitching

Use the right side to stitch in the ditch. Thus, you will sew in the bias tape’s seam. You can use a contrast thread to make it visible. But if you want to ensure invisible stitches, you can use a matching thread.

Always ensure to stitch on the wrong side. Also, double-check that you do not move away from the straight edge.

Step 5: Finally, Pressing!

Finally, all you need to do is press your finished bias tape. Double-check that it sits around your neckline neatly!

Is It Necessary To Use a Matching Thread?

It is true that using a matching thread that blends in well with the quilt top covers multiple quilting sins. After all, it helps you make quilting mistakes disappear so easily. When stitching in the ditch, it is preferable to use a matching thread.

While you’re trying to stitch in seams between different colors (like black and white), you can choose a thread similar to the lighter shade.

Although there are no restrictions on using the same (or similar) colored thread, it entirely depends on personal preference. If you prefer a contrast thread for making it visible, you can choose it for a bias tape.

As you become a pro at SID method, you can choose the thread color according to the preference!



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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