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Problems stitching in the ditch

by Jan Babola
(Houston, TX)

I have eight 13" squares, 4 down and 2 across (with Sunbonnet Sue & Sam in them).

I stitched in the ditch and the material bunched up, and I used that footer thing, too.

What can I do now? Undo and redo would result in the same, right?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.


If things are bunching up, even when you are using a walking foot, I suspect that the trouble is coming from how the quilt sandwich was layered and basted.

I've got a good write-up of how to create the quilt sandwich on my page "Layering and Basting a Quilt".

Several of the gals that were having similar troubles to you, didn't realize that the backing needs to be secured before layering on the batting and the quilt top.

The purpose of securing this layer with masking tape or binder clips is because you can't see what is happening to it as you add the other layers.

I like this technique
If finding a large flat surface or getting down on the floor to baste is literally a pain, you'll find an interesting basting technique on the two videos on my page "How do I control my quilt sandwich during quilting?". You'll just need a couple of covered boards and a single table long enough to hold the shortest dimension of your quilt.

I've used this technique for smaller quilts and love it. I'll use it the next time I have a large quilt to baste...getting done on my tile floor is getting to be more of a pain every year.

I also suggest using the same 50 wt cotton thread in both the needle and the bobbin (the colors can be different if needed) if at all possible. This is the easiest combination of threads to adjust your tension for. I suspect that if you've layered and basted well (using enough safety pins) that if you're still having problems with the quilt sandwich bunching up, that your needle tension is too tight.

Try reducing the tension setting and then stitch a bit on a practice sandwich made from leftovers from your quilt. The sandwich doesn't need to be pretty, just stitchable. Adjust, test and evaluate your quilting stitches. Keep repeating until you're satisfied with the results and then move to the quilt. There is no better way to set your tension then testing using the exact materials in your quilt. It's what I do for every quilt...even if I've used the same threads before.

I hope this has helped even though it is terribly late. There was a problem with my hosting company and a ton of questions miraculously appeared in my dashboard. I'm trying to catch up as fast as I can. Again, I apologize for my tardiness.


Julie Baird

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