It’s The Little Things

Do you enjoy burying your thread ends after quilting? If you do, please stop reading this and give me your address so I can send you some work.

If you also find this a wearisome chore, have you tried the method shown in this video by Grace Howes? As is often the case, this technique has many mothers. Robbi Joy Eklow first blogged about it, then Grace decided to make a video to show how it works. I stumbled upon it after I struggled to bury some very short thread ends and decided to consult the internet for solutions.

Up to now I’ve tied a square knot in my thread ends, threaded the ends onto a large eye needle (many people use a self threading needle), and then pushed the needle in very close to where the threads exit and out of my quilt back about an inch away. I cut off the thread ends even with the back and rubbed the area with a fingernail to hide any hole.

This method worked fine as long as my ends were a few inches long. However, sometimes the ends were really short – maybe an inch long.

The genius of the Eklow/Howes method is you make a thread loop by putting both ends of a 6 to 8 inch long thread through a needle’s eye, insert the needle into the place where the threads to be buried exit the quilt and then push the needle back out about one to two inches away from the insertion point. Don’t pull the loop through yet. First, shove the quilting thread ends into the loop and pull them into the quilt’s interior by gently tugging the needle until the loop comes out. Clip those thread ends close to the back and save that needle already threaded with a loop for the next time.

I know it sounds complicated, but it really works. And if you’re careful, you only have to thread a needle once. My apologies if I’m the last to learn this technique.



Filed under Techniques

13 responses to “It’s The Little Things

  1. I found these needles which let you get a really short end… you can stick the needle into the fabric up to the hold and then put the short ends into the needle eye without having to thread it. Take’s a very teensy bit of time to bury even the shortest threads compared to threading the eye of a needle any needle at all.

    • Thanks for letting me know about yet another option. I don’t usually have trouble threading needles, unless they’re the pinhole eye types, so I’m a neophyte about needle nuances. Have you tried this type?

  2. patty

    What I do if the threads are too short, I stick the needle in the fabric between the layers like the needle was already threaded up to the eye of the needle, then I thread the needle with those short ends. Push the needle thru the layers and pull it out. Threads are buried!

  3. I usually just make small stitches or stitch on top of my previous stitches and hope that nothing will come apart, but I have felt that maybe I should be burying thread ends. Thank you for what seems to be a very manageable method!

  4. jennyklyon

    I never heard of this either-great method-thank you for sharing! Wish I’d known this method last year when I had hundreds of ends to bury…

  5. I just make a French knot with the needle threaded and bury the knot – not difficult at all – if the thread is too short unpick some until you have a long enough thread to work with. Why tie the knot by hand?

    • Good to know about your method. However, if you ever saw my french knots you’d see why I hand tie my knots. Sometimes I absentmindedly push the button on my machine that automatically cuts the thread. This leaves a tail that’s less than an inch long. I really can’t unpick enough stitches to get the length needed to even put the stumpy thread end through a needle’s eye.

  6. I hadn’t heard it before. Seems like a good solution when in that situation. Thanks for sharing.

    • I try to plan my quilting so I’m starting/stopping at the quilt edge, but sometimes that just won’t work out, so I like to have a backup plan.

      • Using the longarm, if I have a thread break or bobbin runs out, I don’t have thread ends unless I pull stitches very very very very carefully. I don’t try. Instead I tackstitch over the top of the last few stitches and keep going. It shows if you know what you’re looking for, and happen to spot it. But my quilts aren’t going to be inspected at that level. So that almost always works for me. On the other hand, stitching on labels or hand-stitching binding always leaves at least one thread end, and sometimes they are of awkward length. So this is a good tip to know. Thanks again.

      • I too will sew on top of the end of my previous stitches. As you say, it depends on how you plan to use the quilt. For a bed, lap, or baby quilt I go for sturdiness above all. If a “picky butt judge” (this is the term used by a longtime member of my guild) will be examining my work closely, I’ll use more cosmetic methods.

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