Walking Foot vs. Stitch in the Ditch Foot (Helpful Guide) Update 05/2022

It can be difficult for newcomers to keep up, especially when expert sewers do not clarify commonly used words. It’s easy to get lost following a lesson that doesn’t define the phrases it employs for people learning to sew.

Experienced sewers may choose to use a walking foot. This is because the walking foot grabs the cloth far better than the stitch in the ditch foot. This improved grip translates to a consistent feed for both the top and bottom layers.

Continue reading our post to learn everything there is to know about the stitch in a ditch. It defines the term and explains why one method of sewing is superior to another.

What does Stitch in The Ditch Mean When Quilting?

It appears self-explanatory after you understand what stitch in the ditch entails. Sewing along the seams of all the square blocks you’ve arranged in your quilt is what stitch in the ditch refers to.

When sewing something basic like a mug rug, stitching in the ditch might help you differentiate different colors. The stitch lines serve to distinguish each square or color from the ones next to it.

Finally, if you use square blocks, you’ll have a great quilting grid with defined boundaries between the squares. When you’re finished, your quilt will appear much better and have that professional touch you desire.

Because the lines are usually neat and straight throughout the technique, it is a wonderful approach for beginners to utilize.

Why do You Stitch in The Ditch?

There are four compelling reasons to stitch in the ditch:

1. Sewing is fairly simple, which is ideal for beginners who are still building their confidence. You can save time by not having to designate your materials because a stitch in the ditch already has obvious channels that are straight lines.
2. It simplifies design selection – the design is already incorporated into your quilt, so you don’t have to waste time deciding how you want it to look. The design has been completed for you.
3. The procedure strengthens the quilt, which is something you desire. The stitch in a ditch technique improves the quilt’s ability to withstand heavy wear.
4. You improve your appearance – who doesn’t desire that? If the procedure is applied correctly, the visual result can be breathtaking.

It may take some practice to perfect, but once you do, your quilts should be much better, stronger, and more attractive.

Do You Have to Stitch in the Ditch?


Who you ask will determine the answer to this question. Some seasoned sewers believe that you should use this procedure on a regular basis. Then there are the sewers who hold the opposite viewpoint.

The latter group finds enchantment in distance. That means that certain quilting techniques, such as replacing the stitch in the ditch approach, will appear good from a distance.

If your quilt is planned to go from edge to edge, you won’t need to utilize this approach, and your quilts will look great from all angles. One disadvantage of not using the stitch in the ditch approach is that the fabric may shift on you if you go too close to it.

This could result in more issues than you want to deal with. While the stitch in the ditch approach may appear to be too difficult, in this case, practice makes perfect.

What Does a Stitch in the Ditch Foot Look Like?


Imagine two small skis placed side by side with the option to be spread wider apart to give you a clear picture of what this foot looks like. Some stitch in the ditch feet appear to be able to be changed to wider or narrower locations.

The design is made in such a way that both sides of the two blocks may be fed through the needle evenly. Sewing those quilting or other dividing lines should be much simpler and easier now.

It should simply take a few seconds to add one to your sewing machine, and they should come off just as effortlessly once you’re done. When stitching quilt blocks together, one thing you don’t want is to have trouble adding or removing the tool you need the most.

Do You Stitch in the Ditch Before Quilting?

It is actually done at the same moment. There are two methods for stitching in the ditch and quilting at the same time. Because you don’t always have to add more quilting afterward, these strategies should save you some time.

The first method is to utilize the stitch in the ditch as a basting technique, which will require more quilting after you’re done. This is done to keep the cloth together before you start quilting more intricately.

The second method is to just quilt the seams and leave it at that. The stitch in the ditch is your finished quilting pattern, and once you’ve completed that procedure, you’re done with that difficult task.

There is some good news: a stitch in the ditch method can be used to finish any quilt. Whole cloth quilts appear to be the lone exception. This is because practically every quilt has a seam that can be followed.

Where to Start Stitch in The Ditch


Even this aspect of quilting appears to have two sides to it. On one side, it advises to sew the seam directly in the ditch. According to the opposing viewpoint, you should begin slightly to one side or the other.

It is up to you to decide where to begin and what is the most convenient for you. There is no requirement that you begin the stitch in a ditch. If you stitch with a sewing or quilting machine, your stitches will be lovely and even regardless of where you start.

If you do it by hand, though, the size of your stitches may not be as little, and you may end up with gaps in the seams where the batting can get in. The benefit of stitching in the ditch is that the stitches are less visible.

Your quilt will look great both on the front and the back. The key is not to second-guess yourself on where to begin. Ignore what others suggest and do it right in the ditch to save yourself some time and trouble.

Can You Stitch in the Ditch With a Walking Foot?


Yes, this is a viable option, and it is one of the most highly suggested sewing tools. There is a compelling case for keeping the walking foot rather than switching to a stitch in the ditch foot.

The former foot appears to be much better at gabbing the upper and lower cloth than the latter foot. This makes feeding the material through the needle and keeping both sides even much easier. It also maintains the same pace for both layers.

Of course, you can choose which foot you want to use. Quilting can be tedious at times, so it’s helpful to have something to take your mind off it while you finish the quilt.

There’s no rule that says you have to switch to a walking foot, so use your discretion. Choose the foot that is suitable for you and the task at hand.

What Foot do You Use for Stitch in the Ditch?


Technically, you should use the edge joining foot or the ditch in the stitch foot. This is because to the fact that their feet are designed to sew very near to the seam’s edge.

The fabric is better connected together, and you should have a lovely seam. However, some skilled sewers would prefer forego this benefit and utilize a walking foot instead. They prefer to feed both layers of fabric through the needle at the same time, not caring how near they get to the edge.

Which one you should use is entirely up to you and your sewing preferences. The walking foot is, in general, easier and quicker. Plus, you won’t have to worry as much about the seam’s edge.

Make decisions based on your sewing style and schedule. It’s possible that you won’t always have time to use the stitch in the ditch foot.

Can You Stitch in the Ditch Without a Walking Foot?

Yes, the walking foot isn’t a required sewing accessory. You have several possibilities, which will be determined by how you want your seams to appear. The stitch in the ditch foot gets closer to the material’s edge, resulting in smoother seams.

You can also forgo using the walking foot if you aren’t concerned about the speed at which the lower and upper layers pass through your quilting machine. The stitch in the ditch technique has the advantage of having straight and easy-to-follow lines.

This gives you additional options when it comes to which foot to use.

How to Stitch in the Ditch Without a Walking Foot


Purchasing a Bernina sewing machine is one option. The one with the ditch guard is the one you want because it makes sewing more precise and easier. You can, of course, use any brand of sewing machine with the same guard.

However, there is a disadvantage to such guard. The top and bottom layers do not appear to be fed through the needle at the same rate. This can cause issues if you are unable to compensate for the speed differences.

Before utilizing a non-walking foot, one sewer used a lot of basting, but even those extra pins couldn’t keep the cloth in line and moving at the same time. So, if you’re going to stitch your quilt in the ditch using a non-walking foot, be prepared to put in some more effort.

Can You Stitch in the Ditch With Open Seams?

Go ahead and use open seams on your quilt if you want to. It is feasible to stitch in the ditch while maintaining open seams. This is a little extra work, but it could pay off in the long run.

The procedure is straightforward. You must first push your seams open. Then, using a narrower thread on your quilting machine, sew away. You can sew as near to the edge as 1/8 inch and still have a lovely stitch pattern.

There is always another side to the matter, just like there is another stitch in the ditch technique or method. Some people dislike the open seam because it exposes the thread too much.

This is also a matter of personal preference. It will also be determined by how you want the quilt to appear once completed.

Stitch in the Ditch Foot vs Walking Foot


There appears to be a lot of consensus on where the stitch in the ditch foot should be used. This foot, according to professional sewers, is best utilized while producing garments and is not a good tool to use when constructing a quilt.

That conclusion, that using the stitch in the ditch foot is inferior than using the walking foot, may be the same as yours. The walking foot is undeniably more convenient to use. You won’t have to worry about layer speed, and your sewing time will be significantly reduced.

When you don’t use the stitch in the ditch foot instead of the walking foot, you’ll probably have a better sewing experience. However, some people believe that the stitch in the ditch foot is still the best to use, and they may have mastered the technique, making switching to another foot difficult.

Your choices and experience will be the deciding factors.

What Stitch Length for Stitch in the Ditch


Making the thread length too long or too short is the key to stitching in the ditch. This sewing technique is based on the Goldilocks concept. To ensure that the quilt lasts a long time and is robust, the stitch length must be just correct.

The stitch length should be 3 to 3 1/2 mm. That should keep your quilt looking great while also making it more resilient. But, as is customary, not everyone will agree with that suggestion.

Some people use as little as 2 1/2 mm and as much as 4 1/2 mm. Others utilize the imperial system, claiming that they range from 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch, with some being as little as 1/16.

Practice with different stitch lengths to see which one works best for you.

What Color Thread for Stitch in the Ditch

The best thread color for you to use is one that is as close to the color of your quilt fabric as possible. You can also try to match the primary color of your quilt.

If none of these options are available, use a neutral color to hide the thread and prevent it from detracting from the overall look of your quilt. If you follow the seam lines, your stitching should disappear and become invisible, regardless of length.

Final Thoughts

Stitch in the ditch techniques are very simple. A beginner should be able to master the technique quickly and start building their confidence. One reason for that conclusion is that quilting usually has nothing but straight lines.

It is possible to use a stitch in the ditch foot but from what we have been able to uncover is that the walking foot is the best sewing tool for this job. It grabs the fabric better on all layers and makes sure it is fed through the needle at the same speed.

It is possible to do an open seam but that adds a little more work and does not hide the thread very well. Go with the closed seam so your quilt design is the star of the show and not the thread you used.

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