What the quilting books don’t teach you…

I’m grateful for the blogging community, and the sewing community in general.   I really find that people are helpful and are willing guide, teach, or help wherever needed.

A couple months ago, I was at a longarm quilting club meeting at a LQS.  You’d think there would be about 5 of us there, right?  No.  More like about 25 or 30.  Anyway, someone was asking about stitching-in-the-ditch.  They asked one quilter if she always stitched in the ditch on custom work.

Let me back up.  You might need to know some quilting terms:

edge-to-edge:  one design throughout the whole quilt.  It can be free-handed, machine generated, or a pantograph.  Maybe it’s a heart motif being stitched all over quilt.  Whatever it is, it will be all over it, edge-to-edge.

Custom:  This is not edge-to-edge.  It kind of means each “section” of the quilt gets a different treatment.  The quilter/designer determines what a section is.  Maybe it means that every star on the quilt will have design A. And maybe it means all the background will have design B.  And then maybe borders will have design C.

So, anyway, someone was asking if the quilter if she always stitched in the ditch when doing custom work.  Her response was, “Yes, how else would you anchor the quilt?”

An epiphany for me.

I had no idea I was supposed to be doing that.  The quilter who asked the question didn’t know it.  Another longarm quilter who showed a sample of her work (no, I’ve never brought a sample of mine!!) clearly didn’t know this either.

You’d think that would be one of the first things I’d learn as a quilter, right?  So, the hardest part about longarming is building a community because it’s solitary work.  Learning the trade is hard when you work by yourself.  There is no book to teach the “rules” of how you’re supposed to do it.

So, all you newbies, stitch-in-the-ditch on your custom work (prior to doing the “real” quilting).  This is labor-intensive and adds several hours to each quilt, but the results are definitely worth it.

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2 Responses to What the quilting books don’t teach you…

  1. Kim says:

    Good to know! I will do that next time I long arm quilt my quilt, maybe. 😉

  2. Christin says:

    Hi there! Came across your blog from the SA modern quilt guild website. I’m not a longarmer but I’m curious about it…maybe one day! How much stitching in the ditch is recommended? How does it affect the end result?

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