Part 2 of Quilting with a Domestic Sewing Machine: Ditch Quilting


Sometimes the hardest part of machine quilting your quilt is organizing your set up and deciding what to quilt first. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered!

The most important part of setting up to quilt is to make sure that you are going to be comfortable. It’s not enjoyable to do if you end up hunched over and sore for three days after quilting something!


Here are some tips: Place an extra surface beside you to hold your quilt sandwich. Wear quilting gloves. Lots of light, plenty of breaks and good music helps too! Mentally (or pen and paper!) plan out how you want to quilt your quilt. Do you want to show off your piecing? Hide some mismatched corners? Or perhaps you want to anchor all your layers as simply as possible and do some fancy free motion.


My favourite way to get started is with some simple ditch quilting, and if your machine is equipped with our Janome AcuFeed Flex system ( in pic above), you are already equipped for it. I chose the wide foot with the open toe  sole plate (optional accessory with some models Part #202149004) . I like to be able to see where I’m going next, and the open toe plate makes it easy to slide your thread out of the way. Another option is to use the Ditch Quilting sole plate for the Acufeed Flex foot which has a nifty guide to ride along in the ditch of your blocks.

A good quality invisible thread is what I’m using, because I don’t necessarily want to see my quilting. Also, I am using pre-wound bobbins. They are so much faster when it comes time to change them.


Once you have set up your machine, carefully maneuver your quilt sandwich under the presser foot. Choose your starting point (my sandwich is rolled and secured on both sides so that this is easier, and keeps the extra in place for the first pass of stitching), drop your needle and put your presser foot down.  This acts like a parking break for your project so that you can get comfortably situated. I like to use my start/stop button and put my feet on a stool, it saves my back and allows me to really enjoy the process.


I have also slightly angled my sewing machine. This allows me to better use my side table to support the weight of the quilt sandwich as I quilt.

Some other tips I discovered while ditch quilting:

  • Getting set up may take some trial and error: You’ll find out right away what works for you.
  • Start slow!! You can always increase your speed as you get comfortable.
  • Use a locking stitch and straight stitch needle plate: this helps avoid thread nests on the back and accidental bumping of your needle position as you move your quilt.
  • Quilt the seams in the same direction at the same time: you will minimize your fiddling time and maximize your quilting time.
  • Cats make excellent quilt sandwich weights so that it doesn’t slip off the table!

This is Miss Fiona, our kitty who loves crafts as much as I do!

I’ve linked a video here for you to see ditch quilting in action, enjoy!

Our next part in this series (in February) will show how to add flair with free motion and embroidery.

Until next time,


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7 Responses to Part 2 of Quilting with a Domestic Sewing Machine: Ditch Quilting

  1. A says:

    Invisible thread. I’ve used whatever was available at Joanns, probably Coats. I love how invisible thread looks when it quilts but it is a nightmare to wind a bobbin and you can’t see it to thread the needle. Also,it is so coiled it is even hard to find and hold. Is this the normal problems with invisible threads or do I need another brand?


    • lizafrica says:

      You might like to try some other brands. Also slow down the winding of the bobbin considerably – if your machine can do that.



      • A. says:

        Thank you! I will order some better brands and, if I can get the thread into the bobbin, I will try slowing the winding. Since my manuals say to wind at full speed, I never thought to slow it down. Thanks again.


  2. carol thomas says:

    What specific Janome machines have the Janome AcuFeed Flex system”?


  3. Joey Urey says:

    what type of invisible thread. I struggled with mine (of course I also had to learn how to be sure my acufeed foot was installed correctly)


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Joey,

      There are many good quality brands available: YLI, Sulky; Wonderfil, Madiera, etc. I tend to mostly use Wonderfil’s Invisifil as it is 100wt but strong as it is polyester. I get good results with this although other brands will work well too. Just avoid cheap no-name brand poor quality as it is invariably nylon which stretches and you wont like the results.



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