Stabilising a quilt happens once the wadding and backing are sandwiched onto the quilt top and held temporarily in place by glue, pins, tack or thread.  Stabilising the quilt is the starting part of the quilting process.

What is Stabilising A Quilt?

Stabilisation is a term that describes the initial quilting stitches which hold the quilt permanently together. The seams of your quilt top can hide these stitches. This is called quilting in the ditch. I am not a massive fan of quilting in the ditch, especially not for beginners. It is too easy not to hit the seam line perfectly, and it becomes pronounced when you don’t. I suggest stitching a quarter of an inch on either side of the seam. This approach has the added benefit of ‘styling out’ any slight seam mismatches as well.

Do We Always Stabilise A Quilt In the Ditch?

Stabilising stitches don’t have to be within or around the seam lines of your quilt top. However, these initial quilting lines will either need to be hidden (in the ditch) or become part of your overall design. I prefer the latter.

Why Do We Stabilising A Quilt?

Once the stabilising stitches are in a quilt, you no longer need to continue your quilting from the centre out. Instead, you can be more flexible. If quilting with different thread colours, I can quilt all the patches of that colour before moving on to the next. Alternatively, I could quilt all the areas with the same design (e.g. big loops) and then quilt the subsequent pattern (e.g. curvy meanders) across the piece. I can move across the quilt, quilting small patches as it suits me. I also think that repeating the same pattern before moving onto the next improves accuracy.

Examples of Stabilising Quilting Lines?

Here are a few examples of where I originally put the stabilising lines in these quilts.

Does Every Quilt Need Stabilising?

Not all quilts have to be stabilised. It is less awkward to start in the middle with smaller projects and work your quilting stitches outwards.  I tend to stabilise everything. It becomes a habit, and I use my time stabilising the quilt to get it to know it as a quilt and confirm that my quilting plan will work