Two Good Quilting Techniques To Know
Closeup of neat quilting lines.
With these two techniques used by experienced quilters you can say goodbye to thread nests on your sewing machine and prevent your quilts from unraveling. Having integrated these techniques into my own quilting routine for years, I can vouch for their practicality. My quilts endure the test of time without a need for repairs or eliciting any complaints from recipients. Read on to unravel these two techniques and experience the same feeling of success!
The first technique is about raising the bobbin thread on your sewing machine at the start and end of quilting. With the second technique you’ll learn how to knot and bury your thread tails in a professional way.
Here's the supplies, tools and fabrics you’ll need. We’re going to make a practice quilt sandwich with the fabric and batting adhered with fabric glue spray and use this to master these two techniques. Let’s start.
Supplies and Tools
· Cotton Needle & Bobbin Threads (any two constrasting colors)
· Your favorite Quilting Foot
· Machine Quilting Needle
· Fabric Glue Spray
· Sewing Stiletto
· Quilting Gloves
· Self-Threading Needle
· Heat Erasable Marking Pen
· Thread Snips
- One (1) 10-inch square of fabric for the quilt top
- One (1) 10-inch square of fabric for the quilt backing
- One (1) 10-inch square of batting
In Part 1 I’ll show you how to raise the bobbin thread at the start of quilting, in Part 2 I’ll show you how to perform the same thing at the end of quilting and in Part 3 I’ll explain how to bury the tread knots.
Part 1: Raising the Bobbin Thread at the Start of Quilting
1. Raise the needle and presser foot
Then, pull an 8-inch length of needle thread. This makes it easier to knot and bury the thread.
Position the needle where you will start quilting. Mark this spot with a heat erasable marking pen.
2. Lower the needle and presser foot
With your left hand, hold the needle thread to the side of the presser foot. Do not move the fabric.
3. Raise the needle
Do this by giving a quick tug on the needle thread. The bobbin thread will pop up.
4. Raise the presser foot
Closeup of tweezers grabbing the bobbin thread
- Use your tweezers to quickly grab the bobbin thread.
- Pull an 8-inch length of bobbin thread.
- Position the needle and bobbin thread behind the presser foot. (You’ll prevent sewing them into your quilting stitches)
- Find your mark. Position the needle over the mark and lower the needle.
- Lower the presser foot.
That’s it! Do a continuous line of quilting to get ready for part 2.
Part 2: Raising the Bobbin Thread at the End of Quilting
End your quilting with the needle down. Raise the presser foot and mark this spot with your heat erasable marking pen. Lower the presser foot. Do not move the fabric.
1. Raise the needle and presser foot.
8-inch needle loop
2. Use your stiletto to pull the needle thread towards you. (It will create a loop. Make this loop 8-inches.)
Holding down the needle thread loop
3. Hold the needle thread loop with the thumb of your left hand. Do not release it.
4. Locate your mark. Position your needle directly over the mark.
5. Lower the needle and presser foot.
6. Raise the needle and presser foot.
7. Pull up the bobbin thread: Grab the stiletto with your right hand and sweep the needle thread towards you.
Closeup of two needle thread loops
8. You will have two needle thread loops, one in each hand.
Closeup of the bobbin thread
Lengthen the bobbin thread by evenly pulling the thread loops. Stop when the bobbin thread is 8-inches long.
Tip: Does your sewing machine have an automatic thread cutter? Simply use the ‘thread cutter’ function and your loops will become single thread tails. If not, you must manually cut the thread loops.
9. Now move the quilt sandwich away from the needle and closer to you. (You’re making space for manually cutting the thread loops)
How To Manually Cut The Thread Loops
Use this method to manually cut the thread loops if you do not have an automatic thread cutter on your sewing machine.
Closeup of cutting the bobbin thread
Use the sewing snips to cut the bobbin thread. If you can easily pull the bobbin thread to any length, then that is the bobbin thread to cut. Cut it 2-inches from where it exits the needle plate.
Hook your finger in the bobbin thread loop and pull, it becomes a single thread.
Use the sewing snips to cut the needle thread. Track the needle thread down from the eye of the needle to under the presser foot. Use your tweezers to grab the needle thread 3-inches away from the presser foot. Cut the needle thread to the left of the tweezers.
Hook your finger in the needle thread loop and pull, it becomes a single thread.
Trim your needle and bobbin threads to equal lengths. These are thread tails.
How To Knot And Bury Your Thread Tails
This second technique might sound really basic and it is. It is a basic technique used by professional quilters who have borrowed the hand quilting way to achieve very neat and very secure quilt stitches.
Tip: Warning: Once you try this knot and bury your thread tails technique you may never go back to your previous method.
For years I used sewing machine methods to secure the end of my quilting stitches. I used backstitching but this method leaves a visible lump of stitches on the front and back of my quilt. I used the automatic knot function but this created visible pairs of tiny antennae-like stitches extending from the knot on the front and back of my quilt. The lumps and antennas detracted from my beautiful quilting stitches.
You can knot and bury the thread tails at the end of a project or a phase in the quilting process. There are four steps.
Grab the thread tails that you previously brought to the top of the quilt and hold them together to make a knot at the quilt top surface.
Closeup of thread tails knot on the quilt top surface
Use a self-threading needle to thread the tails through the eye of the needle. Avoid struggling to thread your needle. A self-threading needle has an opening above the eye of needle. Simply push the thread down on the opening and it will pop into the eye of the needle.
Closeup of self-threading needle piercing the quilt top
Locate the marked spot and push the needle into the spot. Bring the needle between the quilt top and batting. Then bring the needle back up to the quilt surface 2-inches away from the marked spot.
Pull the needle until the knot pops below the surface. Then, carefully cut the thread just above the quilt surface. Rub until the thread tails disappear inside the quilt.
It’s like magic!
Closeup of neat quilting lines
I hope you try raising the bobbin thread like this and burying the thread tails on your next quilting project to finish it professionally and neatly!
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May your quilting always bring you joy!
Guest Blogger For Madam Sew
Ernestine “Ernie” Grant is an avid quilter with over 17 years experience and is the owner of the custom baby quilt business www.kalibabyquilts.com. As an African American living in Harlem, NY her view of quilting is shaped by her heritage and the elders who taught her–Quilting is not just thread, fabric and stitches. It is art, it is love, it is community.