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!


2018-08-20T17:52:03-06:00August 24th, 2018|Categories: Education|11 Comments

2016 Handi Quilter’s Academy: Quilting Elevated



We have just completed the fourth annual Handi Quilter’s Academy: Quilting Elevated, our premier educational event focused on machine quilting. This year we welcomed more than 150 quilters, who chose from 63 classes — both hands-on and lecture-demo. We had an international group — including five from Spain, four from Australia, and one from the Philippines. (Plus, of course, the US and Canada.)


Even before the official kick-off of HQ Academy, more than 90 quilters opted to jumpstart their learning with an optional one-day boot camp focused on either HQ Pro-Stitcher, longarm quilting (taught on the HQ Avanté), sit-down quilting (taught on the HQ Sweet Sixteen), or Art & Stitch. They were then more than prepared to take on the deep dive into specific topics throughout the rest of the conference.


Because we knew that quilters love to mingle and were eager to start their HQ Academy experience, we prepared the HQ Sampler, a set of tutorials about the latest Handi Quilter products and gadgets. Quilters could visit the tutorials, that included the new HQ Stitch sewing machines, the HQ Simply Sixteen on the HQ Little Foot Frame, the “new and improved” Easy-Fit Ruler Base, the Electromagnetic Channel Locks, the new Pole Cradles and Super Clamp, as well as see a demonstration of the couching feet from Helen Godden (the “couching queen”).




They could visit the vendor showcase and see products from Anne Bright Designs, Karlee Porter Designs, SewBatik, Superior Threads, Wasatch Quilting, Winline Textiles, and WonderFIL Specialty Threads. And, of course, try out some tasty hors d’oeuvres and a chocolate fountain.




We began Thursday’s activities with a general session, featuring a keynote address from Bruce Magidson, founder and owner of SewBatik. Bruce taught us all about the centuries-old processes for making batik fabrics. We got up close and personal with examples of the tools used to fashion the wonderful batik designs, and certainly grew to appreciate the workmanship that goes into these beautiful fabrics we all love. And thanks to CEO Mark Hyland for joining in the fun by modeling a batik sarong.


Classes then began — with seven classes going on simultaneously. There was something for everyone: HQ Pro-Stitcher hands-on, stand-up longarm quilting hands-on, sit-down quilting hands-on, Art & Stitch, HQ Pro-Stitcher lecture demo, and two quilting technique lecture demos for all quilters (regardless of whether they quilt on a stand-up and sit-down machine).





For those who still had energy to spare on Thursday evening, we offered three excursions: a quilt shop hop, a downtown Salt Lake City experience (complete with the opportunity to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse in the historic tabernacle), and for the truly adventurous, a visit to the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island.




After another full day of classes on Friday, we relaxed with a banquet, followed by our banquet keynote speaker, HQ ambassador Kimmy Brunner. Kimmy’s presentation, titled “Grandma’s Girl: The Story of Three Quilters”, told the story of her great grandmother and grandmother who quilted out of necessity to help endure the difficult Minnesota winters, and shared that love of quilting with a young girl who has embraced those traditions and added her own machine quilting excellence. We loved seeing Kimmy’s own journey into quilting, and reminisced with her about our own quilting origins and inspiration.


We are already planning for 2017 and figuring out how to make next year’s Handi Quilter’s Academy an even greater experience for quilters. Mark your calendars for June 21 to 24, 2017. Class information and registration will open on the Handi Quilter website the first week of November.


2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00June 16th, 2016|Categories: Education, News & Events|0 Comments

Installing HQ Pro-Stitcher Version 91


Handi Quilter regularly releases software updates to HQ Pro-Stitcher. These updates are free to Pro-Stitcher owners. Installing the most recent versions (version 91 and version 92) are unique in that you select the version based on the type of Pro-Stitcher tablet you have. Note that the Pro-Stitcher software is the same in both versions, but the installation process is different.

Handi Quilter recommends that you stay current with the Pro-Stitcher software updates as we make ongoing improvements and add new capabilities.

If you have an Asus EEEPC, an Acer W500, or an HP Omni tablet, you will install version 92. Do not install version 91 because it will make changes to the computer’s operating system. Install version 92 using the standard update process described in the HQ Pro-Stitcher user manual. You can also refer to the installation document on the Handi Quilter website.

However, if you have an Acer W700 or Acer Aspire Switch 11, you must install version 91.

Since installing version 91 is a little bit more involved, educational coordinator Vicki Hoth and support technical Cathie Zimmerman prepared a video that shows you how to install version 91.There are alsowritten instructions on the Handi Quilter website.

And, of course, if you run into difficulties or have questions, contact your local Handi Quilter retailer. If you need further assistance, you are welcome to contact Handi Quilter technical solutions at: 1-877-MY-QUILT (697-8458).

2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00April 21st, 2016|Categories: Education, Products|0 Comments

Why HQ Pro-Stitcher Simulation?

About a year ago, Handi Quilter added a simulation mode to HQ Pro-Stitcher. Here’s what we love about the simulation mode:

1. You can disconnect the Pro-Stitcher tablet from the quilting machine, but still use Pro-Stitcher to get ready for quilting out your design — or combination of designs. You set up the quilting plan while comfortably seated in your easy chair. Then, put the tablet computer back in the bracket, create your area, and quilt out your design.

2. You can install HQ Pro-Stitcher to a Windows-compatible computer. Then, like just using the tablet off of the machine, you use your computer with a mouse and run Pro-Stitcher in simulation mode to create your quilting plan. After you are happy with your design(s), save them to a USB drive, and copy to the Pro-Stitcher tablet to print out.

3. Both of these alternatives are great options for “playing” with Pro-Stitcher and trying out the features without actually stitching them out on a quilt. However, you can still see how the design will stitch out on the screen. Handi Quilter educators are starting to use the simulation mode to teach how to use HQ Pro-Stitcher when there isn’t a quilting machine available for each student. The class members still do all of the functions on their tablet or laptop and then “stitch” it out on the screen. It’s a very efficient way to learn how to use Pro-Stitcher — either on your own or in a classroom setting.

In the April educational webinar, educational coordinator Vicki Hoth and director of quality assurance Richard Eich demonstrated how to install the Pro-Stitcher simulator on a separate computer.

You can find written installation instructions on page 8.6 of the HQ Pro-Stitcher user manual.

We recommend that you use the most recent version of HQ Pro-Stitcher. You can find it on the Handi Quilter website (click here).

We’re confident you’ll love this new Pro-Stitcher option.

2017-07-24T13:53:27-06:00April 15th, 2016|Categories: Education|0 Comments

Quilt Finishing Tip: HQ Little Foot Frame

Since launching the HQ Simply Sixteen and the HQ Little Foot Frame, we’ve had some questions about what to do when you get to the end of the quilt. How do you finish the last row before taking off the quilt.

The number one thing to remember is that you need to make sure you have sufficient extra backing fabric length to enable the fabric to be clamped to the pole and the machine to get to the bottom of the quilt.

But rather than read more here, why not watch and listen to HQ studio educator Marie Eldredge as she discusses finishing your quilt on the HQ Little Foot Frame.

Feel free to share in the comments below any tips and tricks you’ve learned from using the HQ Little Foot Frame.

2017-07-24T13:53:28-06:00March 31st, 2016|Categories: Education, Products|0 Comments

Get to Know HQ National Educator: Megan Best

Megan Best has always loved fabrics, and made her first quilt while in high school. She continued to foster this love throughout her education, achieving degrees in apparel design and merchandising/textiles. Thousands of quilts later, she still loves to create.

Megan’s career in the fabric industry includes experience in fabric stores, retail management, quilt shop ownership, and as a professional longarm quilter. She excels in both computerized and free-motion quilting, winning many ribbons at local and national shows. She loves her HQ18 Avanté® and HQ Pro-Stitcher®.

Megan’s teaching career includes experience as a college instructor, a quilting teacher for local guilds and retail shops, and an instructor at national and international machine quilting shows.

Be sure to see how Megan approached the HQ educator challenge quilt:

Megan lives in NW Washington, has two children, and a very supportive husband. Visit her atwww.bestquilter.com

2017-07-24T13:53:28-06:00March 14th, 2016|Categories: Education, Quilting Fun|0 Comments