The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Hide Your Thread Tails

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Hide Your Thread Tails

Now that we've machine quilted our first block Half Square Sun, you probably have some loose thread tails to deal with. Let's learn how to tie off and bury these threads securely so our quilting never comes unraveled!

Click Here to find cheater needles and a pin place so you can always bury your thread tails easily and quickly.
Yes, there are other methods for tying off your thread tails that may seem easier or faster. One popular method is to build up your thread with 5-7 stitches before you start your design, then clip off the loose thread tails rather than bury them in the middle layer of the quilt.

There are many reasons why I hate this thread build method. For one thing, it builds up a noticeable globby knot on the surface of your quilt. You can feel this knot when you run your hands over the quilt surface and the back.

I also don't think this glob knot method is very secure. Isacord, my favorite thread for machine quilting, is very slippery and it's very easy to slip out of the knot and begin unraveling.

I clipped off my thread tails, then ran my finger over the knot a few times, and it's already starting to unravel!
So those are the two reasons I don't like the build-up-glob-knot method! I don't like it, so I don't teach it, just like I don't teach you how to use spray basting because I hate that stuff too!

Yes, so much of this is based on my opinion based on my habits and what I like to see in my quilts. You'll need to develop your opinion for what you like and how you like to make your quilts. Try both methods and see which one works best for you.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. If you ever enter a quilt in a judged quilt show, you need to bury your thread tails in the quilt too, or the judges will mark off points. Hand quilters already bury the thread tail in this way, only with hand quilting there is only one thread and not 2 threads.

  2. Thank you so much for this demonstration.......I am using the technique already! I've always buried my threads, but never even thought about that wonderful knot first. Great advice.

  3. Great tip. Instead of judging how far away the knot should be, I just put a small knitting needle between the tails and tie snug. Pull out the knitting needle and I get a consistent gap.

    I've also stopped threading the tails into a needle. I use a needle with a loop of thread in it. Push the needle through the tails' hole and through an inch of batting and up, then pull most of the loop through. Put the tails through the loop and pull the needle and loop all the way through. Your tails will pull through. Snip, and done, and you don't have to thread the needle.


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