Thursday, June 21, 2012

how to bury knots when machine quilting

Due to several requests, I decided to write up a little tutorial on how to bury your knots when machine quilting. I've only been doing this for two weeks, but I do love how tidy it looks and how beautifully finished the starts and stops are. Here's one way to do it.


To start, thread your machine and pull your bobbin thread up. Pull both threads to the side.
Insert your fabric sandwich.
Insert the needle into your quilt sandwich. Your presser foot should be up at this time.
Now, you want to pull the bobbin thread up and through to the top of your fabric. To do this, put the needle down and bring it back up. Turn the wheel on the side of your machine back and forth by hand a bit while gently tugging on the top thread until you see a loop appear.
Use a stitch ripper to catch the loop and pull the end through to the top.
 Both threads should be on top of your quilt sandwich at this point.
Put the needle down into the quilt sandwich in the same exact spot that you pulled the bobbin thread through. Hold both threads to the side, put your presser foot down and start quilting.
 Once you are a few inches away from the starting point, you should have enough room to bury your knot.
 Tie a small knot using both of the thread tails.
Thread your tails onto a needle (a self threading needle works very well) and insert the needle into the same hole where the knot is, or just behind it.
Run the needle inside the layers of your quilt sandwich. It is a good idea to double check the back side to make sure your threads aren't visible there. Push the needle to the front of your quilt about an inch away from your starting point.
Pull your thread ends through and give them a gentle tug. Make sure the knot pops below the surface of the fabric. Use a scissors to trim the tails.
 Your starting point should look neat and tidy on both the front and the back! Isn't that slick?

That's all fine and well...but what do you do when you run out of bobbin in the middle of a quilt and you don't have much of a thread tail to work with? The photo below shows this. There is only about 1" of thread left.
In this instance, I like to flip my quilt over and work from the back side of the quilt. There is only about 1" of thread there, too.
So, I use my stitch ripper and gently take out a few stitches-just enough to give me some decent thread tails to work with.
Tie a knot. (You will notice that I had to tie the knot just above the thread on the right...you don't want to tie it off in the middle of the two threads or the knot will sit right on top of the fabric and it will be hard to bury.)
Thread the needle....
and once again, insert it through the same hole that your knot is coming from.
Run the threads through the layers and to the side a bit. Give the threads a tug until the knot disappears under the surface of the fabric. Trim the ends. The knot should be completely hidden. To start quilting again, flip the quilt over and begin in the very same stitch where you ended. Hurray for seamless starts and stops!

I hope that all makes sense! If you give it a try, I'd love to hear about it. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.

75 comments:

KristyLou said...

This is what I have been looking for for a LONG time. Thank you so much for documenting this.

Annalia said...

Wow. I didn't even know that was possible.

Katrina said...

Amazing! Thanks Amanda Jean! :) Great tutorial and I'll be putting this to good use.

Just Carol said...

Thanks for the great instructions!

Molly said...

Thank you!!!!!!

Kat said...

I am about to start quilting a new quilt this weekend, so great timing. Your directions are very clear, makes me believe I can actually do that!

Carolyn S. said...

thank you thank you thank you! I've got the pulling the thread to the top, tying the know but didn't know what else to do besides trim it, which didn't seem very stable.

Carolyn S. said...

tying the know, tying the knot, whatever. :)

AnnieK said...

You officially rock. :-)

jabeybaby said...

Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial, I've been wondering how to do that!

Lynn said...

I love you, thank you so much for showing this. I've wondered about this for years, seriously. As usual you've made it clear and simple!

pforgerson said...

What stitch length do you use when you are machine quilting. have only done it a couple of times so not sure if it should be long or short!
Thanks for the help
Pam
pforgerson@sbcglobal.net

Tiffany said...

Genius! Thank you so much!

Rachel said...

Awesome tips (as usual!) Thanks!

Lori said...

Oh my goodness, this is great! Thanks so much for putting this together, I will definitely be trying this!

Christina said...

I've been trying to figure out how to do this forever! Of course, it seems so simple now... thanks!

amandajean said...

pforgerson-

i try to maintain a medium stitch length when quilting....nothing too long so you get "toe grabber" stitches, but nothing too tiny that you would want to rip your hair out if you have to rip stitches. i know, that's a pretty technical answer, huh? but i hope that helps!

amanda jean

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial. You did a wonderful job and the pictures really help.
cindy

Di~ said...

Another fabulous idea from Amandajean! I bury my knots but in a different NOT AS GOOD manner. I will use this every time now. Thank You.

Judith said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have to try the machine quilting with this tip. I am going in blind.....Thanks for sharing....Judith, Texas

Diana and LaDonna said...

This is the only way I do mine! It is so neat, no unsightly thread bumps or tails!

LaDonna

Cherie said...

That's so cool! Thanks for the tutorial =D

Susie at ProsperityStuff said...

Great to know! I'd never even heard of doing that until you mentioned it in that other post. Then I wondered how, but I had a feeling you might explain it more! So, thanks!

Courtney K said...

thanks so much for this tutorial. i'm still learning all the basics of quilting and this was on my list of things to learn. your instructions are very clear and super easy to understand. thanks!!!

Diane aka cameldiva said...

Amanda Jean, you are my hero!!
Thanks for sharing this with your lurkers and followers :)

Anonymous said...

I love this method - time consuming but the end results are so worth it. The only thing that I do differently is wait till I'm completely finished quilting then bury all those threads while I'm watching TV or taking a long car trip. So rewarding when it's all done!

seaschell said...

Sounds great! There are a lot of quilting patterns I've been avoiding because they stop and start in the middle of the quilt. I'll definitely be trying this!

Kay said...

Thanks for this. When you are self taught, it's good to know that you ARE doing it right! There is one thing I do differently - I don't actually tie a knot before I bury the thread. I've only been FMQ for a relatively short time so don't know if the threads will come loose in the long term....guess I'll have to wait and see!

Kay

Donna said...

That is exactly how I do it. I saw this method on the net. And it works. Too bad I didn't about it when I made my first quilt.

Heidi said...

Yes I do this, I also use a cheaters needle so you can use short ends and not have to thread a needle.

Anne's House said...

Jean, thank you sooo much! Perfect timing---I JUST finished a quilt top that I want to machine-quilt within the blocks. (My first venture into free-motion.) AWESOME tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I do this as well but I use a pair of tweezers to pull up my bobbin thread. Thanks for always posting good stuff!

Jennifer S

Shankevia said...

I have been asking this question for a while now. Thanks for the tutorial. I am more of a hands on learning with a face to face lesson. I am still going to attempt your tutorial instructions. Thanks again.

Julie said...

Wow, this is so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to write this out.

Judith Blinkenberg said...

Yes, thank you for taking the time to post pictures. I have never figured this out. When I quilt and come to the edge of the quilt or seam like around hst's I hit the cut on the machine and I have little threads all over the back of my quilt. Now I'll do things different. Thank You.

Ann Michelle said...

Awesome! Simple! Thank you for taking time to provide this education!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Thank you Amanda! I do this with my straight line stitching when I hit a border or sashing. I was hoping there was a better way (but was not for sure) of starting off FMQ w/o back stitching.

Flowers in the Window said...

Thanks so much for this. I didn't have a clue how to do this. It doesn't look difficult just a bit fiddly and time consuming ;) I don't know whether I'd do this for all my quilts but I'll certainly give it a go for extra special ones :) Maggie xx

Jacqui said...

Wow - straightforward really! I'll definitely be trying this next time I have to start and stop out in the open, which has been one of the things I've been struggling with.

Nina said...

One trick for a very short thread tail: insert the needle part way into the quilt layers BEFORE threading it. That way you can bury the ends even if they're shorter than the needle.

Suzanne said...

Super neat to see this in action. This is how I got started but I moved away from doing it because it was rather tedious. I never used a self threading needle which would make all the difference! You might consider changing your name to supersmartcrazymomquilts.

Amy said...

Yep, this is how I do it too! Sometimes when I hear many talking of taking a few really short stitches and cutting the thread ends I wonder if I'm creating extra work for myself, but that method doesn't look as nice as burying the tails.

Great job documenting the process! I think I'll be linking to your post on my blog if you don't mind.

Deb C. said...

Yes. These are wonderful tips for finishing your top correctly. I also use what is called a 'self threading needle' (by Dritz?) to help with the short threads so you don't have to try to thread the needle in the traditional way. It has a slit at the top and you basically just slide the thread into the needle eye. It's great even if your eyesight is not an issue and you can work with the tiniest thread tails too.

Angie said...

A much-needed (by me ;p), EXCELLENT tutorial. Thank you, once again, for sharing your quilting knowledge with us. :) You are just THE BEST.

Andrea said...

I just learned this method at a class a few weeks back, but I love it. I've usually waited until I was done quilting to tie and bury the knot, but there's no reason why it couldn't be done at the start. Thanks for the great photos with the tutorial.

Mary said...

I've been burying my threads but NEVER thought to tie a knot, duh! Thanks for the heads up.

Gladys said...

Amazing! Thanks Amanda Jean! Great tutorial and thanks for sharing wis us! Have a nice day! A hug!

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing you expert knowledge with us! As someone just starting to quilt mini quilts to practice on this is great information. To me piecing is so much easier than quilting the layers together. But I am beginning to try on some small stuff. I bookmarked this for my next try. Thanks again.

Quilt or Dye said...

Nice job!

Jaclyn said...

This is fantastic!! Thanks for sharing :) Happy Friday!

Sallie said...

Great tutorial! Thanks!!

CraftyMummy said...

Just want to let you know that I featured you in my blog post today: http://thecraftymummy.com/2012/06/another-10-quilting-blogs-i-love/

Jessica Christensen said...

Thanks for this! I am definitely going to do this from now on!

pforgerson said...

Yes thanks for the scoop! Love your work

Live a Colorful Life said...

Thank you, THANK YOU for this tutorial!!

Chase said...

Thank you for sharing! I used this tutorial for my new quilt this afternoon and it work out great! However, my thread broke during the quilting, do you have any recommendation how to reconnect the thread? What I did was I went over the the broken line. I think this is probably incorrect, but I was not what to do.

helen said...

Hi Amanda Jean. You have answered a question that quilt books don't! it's almost like some quilting questions are taboo. I only learnt about this from a shop assistant in a sewing machine shop awhile ago that was willing to share. thanks for being so open and willing to share. it helps so much! Helen

Thimbleanna said...

Wow! Thanks CrazyMom! I've always just done a sort of lock stitch and then just clipped the threads. This is MUCH better!!!!

Barbara M. said...

Thank you very much! Finally I discover how to do. I will try this afternoon. I haven't yet the right foot for the machine quilting for my Pfaff. Do you think that it is impossible with the normal foot? Barbara from Italy

Claire Jain said...

This is such a great tip! Thanks for sharing the How To and photos :-)

angelfairy said...

awesome thanks!!!!

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Creative Lady said...

Thanks Amanda Jean, I wasn't too sure how to do those little bobbin threads on the back. It looks so neat I will be using this method from now on. Thanks for doing the tutorial. Love it. BTW I haven't had my surgery yet. was preped and ready but they wanted me checked out by a cardiologist 1s so! Now I have to wait for the results of my latest test. LOL - Oh well more time for quilting :}

Mama Pea said...

Great tute! Thanks!

Sarah said...

Coolest trick ever!!! I used it tonight when working on a quilt...usually I would just backstitch and then bury the threads, but I like this soooo much better because you can't tell where I ran out of bobbin thread! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm sure I will use it TONS!

Page said...

Thank you so much for this! This is something I have always had trouble with, but now it makes sense. Can't wait to try it out!

Diane Swett said...

I love the tutorial. Funny thing tho I am having trouble finding the self thread needles. lol

LethargicLass said...

I have been wondering about this for a long time so am so happy to find this little tutorial... and happy that it makes sense LOL

ruth griesemer said...

Just found your blog while googling machine binging and am loving the tips and tutorials! Thank you, have finished binding three of four lap quilts I am making for my sisters who did the Susan Kollman walk in Philadelphia as a remembrance for them. So glad to find some ways to finish these off quickly!

dazzled said...

Very clever. Thanks for the tip.

dazzled said...

Very clever. Thanks for the tip.

Alice Wallace said...

I appreciate the time you took to explain this in detail.

BKringel said...

Yay. What an easy and clean way to do this!! Thanks so much. ��

Otava said...

Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! I'm just learning, so the pictures were very helpful. One quick question: do you single or double knot the threads? Or is it a special knot?

Di said...

Thank you for sharing this. This is what I've been looking for for so long. Thank you.