16 October 2019

How to Stitch in the Ditch - With Video!

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

Do you ever find that your facings pop out of your clothes and you wished you knew of a way to keep them in place? It's Nikki here, and I'm going to talk you through a sewing technique which will help with just that - stitching in the ditch.

"Stitching in the ditch" is a technique which involves sewing down the channel of an existing seam (the "ditch") to secure pieces of a garment in place without the stitches being seen on the outside. By sewing down the seam line in matching thread to your fabric, the stitches are hidden and invisible to the outside. It really is sewing wizardry!

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

This technique is usually used to secure facings to the inside of garments, although you can sometimes do it to keep an outside piece in place, like a cuff. There are a few different places on a garment you can do this; securing a neckline facing through the shoulder seams or stitching a waistband facing to a waistband instead of topstitching are common examples.

For those of you that prefer to learn visually, we've made a short video showing how you stitch in the ditch. Hooray! The example in the video shows stitching in the ditch to secure a facing to a shoulder seam, however you can apply this method to any project which requires this technique.

So, we've covered what the "ditch" is, but how do you "stitch" it?

There are a few nifty tricks you can do to make stitching in the ditch a piece of cake. Firstly, use a thread in a matching colour to your fabric to make sure your stitching is invisible. You might notice that we have used contrasting thread in some of these pictures, but we've only used that so you can see what we're doing more easily :)

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

Next up, pin through the seam line to secure the inside piece in place. Pin from the right side of the fabric, making sure the pins are directly in the seam channel, with the pins pointing towards the machine needle when the fabric is on the machine - this makes them easy to remove as you sew.

When pinning the outside and inside pieces together, pin directly through the seam line and catch the inside fabric underneath. You'll only need one or two pins if you're pinning something quite small, such as securing a neckline facing to a shoulder seam.

If you're pinning a waistband facing to a waistband, the bottom of the facing will be pressed under and the pins will go through this folded edge the entire length of the seam, like in the picture above. If you want even more pics and info on stitching in the ditch for a waistband, check out our Jessa trousers and shorts sewalong for more tips.

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

Now the inside piece is pinned, you'll need to stitch it in place. Sew from the right side of the garment so you can keep an eye on your stitching to ensure it's hidden. It doesn't matter so much if the stitching is visible on the inside of the garment.

As you will be sewing directly down the seam line it's worth taking a little bit of time to get the needle in the correct position before you start stitching. When lining up the needle with the seam line, it's a good idea to turn the handle on the machine by hand so you can position the needle exactly where it needs to go. That way, if you find you aren't quite on the seam line you can easily raise the needle, adjust the fabric and put it in again.

Once you're happy with the needle positioning, start stitching (not forgetting to backtack at the start and end!). If you're not a confident stitcher, don't be afraid to take this bit slowly to make sure you're sewing directly in the seam line. If you find this too tricky you can always move the machine wheel by hand to help you sew accurately. Pull the fabric ever so slightly taut as you sew - this will keep it nice and flat and prevent creating ridges in the fabric.

How far you need to stitch depends on what pieces you're securing together, however, the aim of the game is to stitch your inside piece in place. If you're sewing something like a neckline facing to a shoulder seam, you'll only have to sew 4 or 5 stitches to keep the facing in place. If you're sewing a waistband, you need to sew the length of the seam channel.

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

If you accidentally sew a couple of stitches outside of the seam line, don't worry about it - nobody is going to notice. Life's too short to worry about a couple of wandering stitches :)

And that's it! Don't forget, if you find a sewing technique a bit tricky, take it slow and just do your best :)

Liked this post? Check out How to Understitch like a Pro