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How to Stitch in The Ditch


Stitching in the ditch refers to machine stitching that is sewn in the ditch of a seam so that it sinks into the seam and stays out of sight.

Seam stitched in the ditch on Crescent Skirt

Seam stitched in the ditch on Crescent Skirt

Seam stitched in the ditch

Seam stitched in the ditch


You won’t see it used very often in sewing patterns, which tend to favor hand stitching instead. It’s very common in factory sewing. You can stitch in the ditch on waistbands, cuffs or anywhere where you would like to secure several layers together but don’t want visible topstitching and prefer not to hand stitch. I like to stitch in the ditch on waistbands to secure the inside waistband without having to slipstitch. I also use it on the waistlines of lined dresses to close the lining and keep the layers from slipping or separating.


As an alternative to stitching in the ditch, you can slipstitch by hand (page link) for an invisible finish. If you prefer visible stitch lines, choose edgestitching (page link), topstitching (page link) or both!

Tips + Notes

  • Go slowly! It’s better to slow down and sew more accurately than to have to rip out stitching in the ditch.
  • If you’re using contrast topstitching on your project, stitching in the ditch is one place where you’ll want to match the thread to the fabric. Darker is better, as it will hide in the shadow of the ditch.
  • Stitching in the ditch is less visible on thicker fabrics and fabrics with a texture. The thread will sink into these fabrics but will be visible on thinner, smoother fabrics.


How to Stitch in The Ditch (1)

If you have the layers of your garment aligned properly, the actual sewing is very straightforward. Line up the seams—feel through both layers to make sure they’re aligned. Place a pin through all layers in the ditch where the two pieces connect.

How to Stitch in The Ditch (2)

See where the pin is? That’s the ditch you’ll be sewing in. Pin all along the seam as you feel underneath to make sure the inner layer is lined up. You could also hand baste (page link) for greater control, to keep the layers from slipping as you remove the pins.

How to Stitch in The Ditch (3)

The goal is to sew as close to the fold as possible, without jumping over the fold onto the other side of the ditch. Poke the needle into the ditch before lowering the presser foot, to be sure it’s lined up correctly.

How to Stitch in The Ditch (4)

Stitch in the ditch. Stop when you reach the end. Gently pull apart the seam as you sew, so you can see the ditch clearly. Sew slowly. If your thread matches well, it’s hard to see, but you should just barely be able to see the line of stitches in the ditch.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine