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How to Stitch in the Ditch with a Sewing Machine

Learn how to stitch in the ditch with a sewing machine from designer Jennifer Wiese in this Howcast tutorial.


Hi, I'm Jennifer from Workroom Social and today I'm going to show you how to stitch in the ditch. So stitch in the ditch is a great technique to know and to use. A lot of times you'll use it when attaching waistbands to skirts, so I'm going to show you today.

Today we have our orange skirt and our blue waistband. The first thing you're going to do is attach the waistband to the skirt. For that, I'm going to use a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. I'm just going to put my fabric down at 5/8 of an inch on the seam guide. I'm going to make sure I'm on a straight stitch and I'm going to use a 2.5 millimeter stitch length and then I'm just going to stitch all the way across.

Now we have our blue waistband attached to our orange skirt. You want to take this to the iron and press it. We're just going to finger press it for this demo. You want the seam allowances on your project to go up into the waistband or whatever it is you're trying to encase.

Now the next thing you want to do is to take your waistband or other portion and fold under the raw edge and then fold it again so that you just cover that machine stitch. So we're just going to cover it. Now if this were an actual skirt, this would be pressed under and prepped for you before you attached it. So we're just going to cover and pin. We're pinning from the wrong side of our project to make sure that we're covering that stitching line. But we're not going to sew from the wrong side. We're going to sew from the right side.

What we need to do is flip our project over and re-pin from the right side. You can see on the right side here where our pins are coming through. We're just going to transfer, put new pins in on the right side right up against where the seam is, where the blue and the orange touch each other. Then once you do that you can pull the pins out from the back. So we're going to pin all the way along. Okay, so now no more pins on the wrong side. All of our pins are on the right side.

Now when we say "stitch in the ditch", what is the ditch exactly? Well, the ditch is the seam. So we are trying to even pin in the ditch, and this is where we're going to sew. We're going to drop our needle so it goes right in between the blue and the orange right there. So we're going to take this to the machine. Pick up your presser foot, put everything down, and you want that seam, the blue and the orange line, to be right in the middle of your presser foot. What you can do is take the hand wheel and twist it down a little bit and see where your needle's going to drop. You want it to drop right in between. Once you have that in a good place, then you can start sewing. You're going to stitch, you're going to sew right in that seam, right in the middle.

Okay, so once you are finished, you should not be able to see your stitching from the right side of the garment because you're setting the stitch in that seam, in the ditch, if you will. Here we've used black thread on the orange so you can see it a little bit, but if we were using thread to match, you would not see it at all. Then if you flip it on the backside, you've caught this folded edge all the way across and so you would have a very lovely waistband of your skirt. And that's how you stitch in the ditch.

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