Use invisible thread to 'stitch in the ditch'

Use invisible thread to 'stitch in the ditch' Patchwork & Quilting Tips
Use invisible thread to 'stitch in the ditch'

Today's tip is for anyone who loves the look of Stitch-in-the-Ditch (SITD) quilting but has been disappointed by visible stitching lines or their own wobbly attempts: modern invisible threads!

'Stitching in the ditch' is quilting that exactly follows your patchwork seams with the goal of defining the piecing but not competing with it for attention. New quilters often think it must be the simplest method of quilting but, like all techniques, it takes practice to execute with skill, especially if your piecing is not that accurate!

But fear not, because here's why you'll love stitching in the ditch with invisible threads:

  • The thread is designed to blend into the fabric, so any wobbles or wandering off the seam line are barely visible – no need to unpick if it goes a bit wrong!
  • The effect is super subtle, indenting the seams and providing a 'shadow gap' rather than a visible stitched line, so no worry about which colour thread to use on multicolour or strongly contrasting patchwork. Just choose 'clear' for light coloured quilts or 'smoky' for darker fabrics. (If in doubt, use clear.)
  • These threads are soft and pliable, not like the old 'fishing line' invisible threads you might remember. (You should be able to break the thread with about the same amount of force as a normal sewing thread.) They won't make your quilt feel hard and they won't cut into your fabrics.

So do your 'ditching' with confidence and invisible thread! (Threads we recommend are here.)

PS. If you're going to stitch in the ditch, remember to press to the side so you have a 'ditch' to stitch onto – the ditch is the opposite side of the seam to the seam allowances, where you have a flat, single layer to stitch on.

Pressing seams open is NOT recommended for SITD because as you stitch along the seam, you're just stitching over the linked threads rather than woven fabric. Over time and use, this can wear on the seam and lead to it coming apart.