Oftentimes, you might want to use lines of machine quilting that surround your blocks to anchor the three layers of your quilt top together, or you may just enjoy the pattern created from these lines of machine quilting. Regardless, there is a method of quilting called “in the ditch” which uses almost-hidden lines of machine quilting to anchor the key seam lines in your quilt.
This method involves stitching right next to the seams between the blocks, sashing and borders in your quilt top, on the side with the least bulk. If you pressed your seam allowances to one side of the seam, then your needle is kept on the opposite side without the seam allowances.
It is important to stitch as straight (or evenly on curves) as possible, keeping the stitching line as close to the seam as possible. This is a good place to use your machine walking foot. The following photo shows the correct positioning of the presser foot and needle in relation to the seam.
Here is an example of how not to stitch in the ditch.
This next photo shows a well-executed result.
The method is described in the book Machine Quilting with Alex Anderson.
The Tech Editors
This article is part of the Quilting Tips from the Tech Editors tutorial series. Recent tutorials include: