5 Tips for Stitch in the Ditch

by Mary Beth Krapil


Let me answer a few Q’s to get us started.

Q: What is “the ditch”?

A: The ditch is formed by the seam between two pieces of fabric. A pieced quilt top has lots of ditches.


Q: Why do I want to stitch in it?

A: Ditch stitching defines the spaces on the quilt top and creates areas for other quilting designs. If done correctly, SID (stitch in the ditch) can help to stabilize and square the quilt.


Q: Why do quilters avoid stitch in the ditch?

A: The short answer: it is boring. It is exacting work that really doesn’t show on the top of the quilt. If it shows, you’re not doing it right. It has to be done right. It is very unforgiving, the stitches must remain in the ditch at all times. NO wandering out of the ditch.  After all, it is called, “stitch IN the ditch”.  It is not called, “stitch somewhere near the ditch”.


So, we have some tips to help you bring your stitch in the ditch to the professional level.

1. Use invisible thread. My favorite is MonoPoly by Superior Threads.

It works for all quilt tops and helps hide the stitches.

Alternatively, you can use a matching, fine thread.






2. Use the Sure Foot. It has a higher profile than the ruler foot that makes using rulers much more secure. Less danger of the ruler getting between the foot and the needle.


3. Use the Ditch Ruler. The tabs on the end of the ruler are lined up on the seam line, which places the needle right in the ditch.



4. Stitch on the low side of the seam.

Q: What is the low side?

A: the side that the seam allowances are pressed toward is the high side. The other side of the seam is the low side.

Stitching on the low side helps hide the stitches in the ditch.

Also, keep the ruler on the low side.


5. If you bobble out of the ditch, don’t un-pick the whole line of stitching. Stitch back over your previous SID, being careful to keep in the ditch where you bobbled out. Then just un-pick the small part where you bobbled. The over-stitching will secure your threads.

6. (this is a bonus for Pro-Stitcher users) Use Mark to stitch in the ditch. If you need to learn about Mark, go to http://hqprostitcher.com/education and watch the video titled “Record”. If you are a Pro-Stitcher user, Mark is the way to go for SID!


Yellow Quilt by Marie Eldredge

The photos in this post came from Marie Eldredge’s Color Play Video on the Yellow Quilt. Handi Quilter has offered free patterns for Marie’s Color Play Quilts and American Patchwork and Quilting offers free videos of Marie showing how she quilted these quilts. Get the patterns here. To see the videos click on “Watch the video” under the quilt. A new video is released each month. Watch the Yellow video here.

See you in the ditch!


2018-08-20T17:52:03+00:00August 24th, 2018|Categories: Education|9 Comments


  1. Karen August 27, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Do you use monopoly in the bobbin as well or match the backing?

    • Mary Beth August 28, 2018 at 7:26 am - Reply

      Hi Karen, I have done both with great success. When you wind a bobbin with MonoPoly be sure to wind it slowly to prevent stretching the thread.

  2. Timothy Nash August 27, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Please stop saying “un-pick”. Good Lord. It is either “un-sewing” or “un-stitching” or “picking”… like “nitpicking”…”stitch-picking”…just “picking”. Not “un-picking”. That sounds as bad as G W Bush saying “nuculear”.

    • Mary Beth August 28, 2018 at 7:24 am - Reply

      Hi Timothy, Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that my phrase offended you. It comes from my background in sewing garments. Hand picking is the ultimate in high end couture garments. When you take that out, you “unpick”. There are lots of words to describe taking out stitches; frogging, reverse sewing, ripping (that sounds so violent!). Just as there are many ways to apologize; so sorry, my mistake, I apologize, my bad, I hope you can forgive me! 😉

    • Wendy August 28, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Mary Beth you’re a saint!

  3. Telene August 29, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Well said MBK Stitches in Ditches are very important for a fine finish to any gorgeous quilt.

    • Mary Beth August 29, 2018 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      Thank you Telene! Great minds think alike.

  4. MaryAnn September 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t find “mark” when I went to the suggested site.

    • Mary Beth September 3, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Mary Ann, I should have been more clear about that. Go to HQProStitcher.com/education and then watch the video titled “Record”. Towards the end of that video, Vicki explains the use of Mark. Hope this helps!

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