Quilting Day by Day

Hitting the Ditch (or not…)

Stitching in the ditch … well, I have another phrase to describe it, but for the sake of propriety, let’s just say I don’t like doing it.

I know for a large group of people its seems to be an easy way to get a quilt quilted quickly (say that five times really fast …), a way to get all the sandwich layers sewn together with stability so they can get the pins out, or a means of defining borders all around the edge of blocks to prepare for designs that will require a travel stitching line to follow.

The Myth

For these valid reasons, I sometimes choose to do it – on these occasions, it seems to be “a good idea at the time” – and not long after I start into it, I’m reminded why I don’t like it and then I face a choice:

  1. let the perfectionist in me pick out what I’ve done so far and just  “ditch” the idea (haha), or
  2. let the quilter in me who knows it’s not about the little mistakes but the overall texture push through and do it EVERYWHERE so there’s consistency and maybe the more I do it the more I’ll like it.  After all, practice makes almost perfect, right?

NO. NO. NO.  This is not what happens.  Instead, I get myself into a situation where I’m cursing and wishing I’d never even tried it – AGAIN!  And usually, I’ve made myself persevere because lots of other quilters do it and somehow I feel like I “should” do it and feel good about doing it.  If I can make a wild quilted almost whole cloth quilt without even marking designs first then, for crying out loud, stitching in the ditch should be pretty basic, and if I can’t do it to a reasonable (ie. MY) standard then I need to keep working on it because, because, because…

What is that all about?  I’m not everyone else!  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, things we enjoy and things we don’t, and our own creative style.

The Truth

Quilting is supposed to be FUN.  And I’ll tell you this rather large secret:

I WOULD RATHER PIECE A QUILT TOP THAN STITCH IN THE DITCH.  (Bet you didn’t think there was anything about quilting that I disliked more than piecing!)

The Fall

So here I am now working on this daisy quilt with nice wide strips for me to quilt some modern style feathers (I LOVE DOING FEATHERS) and an open white section for whatever I want to do, and what comes to mind first?

“I should really stitch in the ditch along the sashing lines to define the areas and have a travel stitching line if I need one because the solid white back will look better that way…” SHOULD?  I could feel the cringe in my stomach at just the thought of doing it, and I did it anyway.

On the first two of what would be twenty-one long stitching lines I had three big thread issues (trying to make myself use up a cone I ordered and ended up not liking because of thread issues…) and I wasn’t having fun.  Twice I considered picking them out and getting on with the stitching I wanted to do, and twice I convinced myself to persevere.  At the end of it, I needed a break, which resulted in this post.  I think I need stronger drugs.

Just for your viewing pleasure, I took these pictures for comparison.

THIS is stitching in the ditch.
THIS is trying to hit the ditch while hitting everything BUT the ditch; I would call it “drunkard’s path” but that’s already a quilt design … (and no, I never drink and quilt although, after this ordeal, I might need a drink)

The Reality

I can only get the results I want by going in one direction, which means constantly rotating my quilt, and that’s only reasonably do-able when it’s small and you don’t have twenty-one long lines to do.  I don’t particularly enjoy doing lines and geometric shapes with straight lines anyway, I’m more of a curved line person and that’s how my stitching flows best.  I use lines in areas where I want a dramatic contrast between swirled or curvy patterns, but not in big long sections.  Other people do and it looks really cool.  And that’s fine with me.

My conclusion?

When you find your niche, stick with it and don’t have a care in the world for what anyone else would do in that spot, or on that line, unless it’s something you really like and want to learn to do.  I will practice and take classes to learn new techniques in the areas I really love, but persevering in something you hate doing just because other people find it useful when it really makes no difference to your awesome creative project in the end anyway is just a waste of time (as is comparing our style or stitching choices to anyone else’s!)

And “ditch” the thread with issues.  Ain’t nobody got time for that …

Back to stitching…my own way!

(finished daisy quilt pictures will be coming soon …)




2 thoughts on “Hitting the Ditch (or not…)”

    1. Thank you, Melanie! SID has its place when necessary (although I think I’m going to find reasons for it never being necessary!) but this chick wants to spend time doing other wild and crazy things with thread 🙂


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