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Thread: Best results to start and end threads on quilting projects?

  1. #1
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    Best results to start and end threads on quilting projects?

    Hi, I am fairly new to quilting and have purchased a used hq sweet 16. A I am working through the various stages of practicing, I was wondering what you think is the best method to stopping and starting threads. I guess I am asking if you bury ends, just do a couple of short stitches at beginning and end or use another method? Any info would be appreciated! Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    For me, my choice is to leave threads so I can tie off and bury the thread ends,
    both at the beginning of stitching and at the end.

    To me, doing a few stitches and snipping off, just seems too dangerous, asking for it to unravel later.
    Besides, I do not like seeing a lot of extra stitches, preferring nice clean stitch lines.

    As I say, these are my preferences ... find what works for you and what your preferences are.
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    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I feel this is personal preference. I have done both but my preferred method is to, inconspicuously as possible, take several small back and forth stitches to lock the thread ends in place, bring my bobbin thread to the surface, take a good tug to ensure they are locked and then cut even with the quilt top. I do it as inconspicuously as possible to try and do starts and stops in the ditch, on the edge where it will be hidden by the binding, or in an area that already has a lot of thread build up such as a back track or place where the quilting has crossed over itself a few times. If this isn't possible then I knot and bury. I should also mention some threads are much more slippery than others so sometimes I have no choice but to knot and bury as the slippery poly threads just won't lock by tiny stitching.

    People who do show quilts for big national shows knot and bury but I have entered a few biggies (MQX, Houston and Road to California) and did not knot and bury and still got high scores on my starts and stops (which means the judges could not easily tell where I ended or started a new line of quilting). If you get spiral eye needles it is fairly easy to knot and bury as you go with those, as long as you leave yourself long enough tails.

    Many years ago, I took a class with Karen McTavish and she said she never knots and buries and has won a lot of ribbons on her quilts. She hides her starts and stops like I describe above.

  4. #4
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I prefer the clean look of tying off the ends and burying them. Although lately I’ve just been tying them off and not burying them if it’s a wallhanging.
    Lori

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  5. #5
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    I was taught to knot and bury in one of my beginning FMQ classes (with Leah Day) but if I am doing edge to edge and can start/end in the edges where it will be covered by binding, then I just back tack to secure the thread.
    attitude is everything...the rest will fall into place.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    I tool a machine quilting class with Libby Lehman a long time ago. She said she took two stitches in place at the beginning and end and then snipped the threads as close a possible. Her quilts are in museums and won many ribbons so this way is passable by judges. https://quiltmuseum.org/lehman/
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  7. #7
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    Tedious but I knot and bury my threads. It’s not so bad if you do the knots as you finish a section instead of leaving them all to the end.

  8. #8
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    I knot and bury, being used to that method in hand quilting. When I get more confident in using my machine, maybe I will try the other way.
    Lisa

  9. #9
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I knot and bury, probably because it is a habit now, and since I am never in a hurry and quilt for my own pleasure, have no hand, wrist, issues, etc. I don't mind the extra time. For me, it feels satisfying to do this step.
    Alyce

  10. #10
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    feline fanatic has and excellent description of how to do it. I will add that if the thread runs out in the middle of the quilt, you can "splice" the thread this way: Start your new thread several stitches back on the line of stitching(no more than 3-4 stitches). bring bobbin thread to the top and lay to one side. Stitch over the old line and beyond several stitches(or finish your row) then go back and snip the tails of threads. Important - I always use small, curved scissors and Don't cut with the scissors. Instead slice the thread with the v where the scissor blades meet. This is like using a razor and keeps you from cutting a hole in the fabric which can happen if you use a cutting motion with the blades. Sometimes you may have a tiny stump of thread after trimming. This usually sinks into the quilt with time and washing.
    Also, if you are doing a pantograph, be sure to take any tails and lay out of the way of the upcoming pattern. You can take out tails if caught in the pattern stitches but it can be difficult if they get caught in the new stitches. Sometimes I deliberately make sure the tails are quite long so I can lay then aside and wrap around a pin to hold in place until I pass that section.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-30-2019 at 03:39 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps
    Sally

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    I feel like I should knot and bury but, I don't. I just make small in place stitches when starting and cutting and cut away the ends. All's well so far.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I do like selm - Sally above does hers. I always use a sawing type motion with thread next to scissor blades. No chance of cutting fabric that way.

    I use a few stitches backward and forward as I donate quilts to foster care kids and want to make sure they are secured.
    Another Phyllis
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  13. #13
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    The best way to handle ends with a sit-down longarm is to start and stop stitching off the quilt somewhere... sides or top or bottom margins so the ends will be covered by the binding. Or, failing that, you can learn to "travel" inconspicuously to the next place you need to be, rather than cutting the thread and re-starting.

    I never bury threads unless I were hand quilting (rare). I just use my auto thread cutter and trim the threads.
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  14. #14
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I do like Feline Fanatic and Selm. About the only time I will knot and bury is if it's a "slick" poly thread on a show quilt.

  15. #15
    Super Member JENNR8R's Avatar
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    It depends on the quilt.

    If I'm making a charity or utility quilt, I will do the short stitches without burying the thread ends.

    If I think I might enter the quilt in a show, I will tie a knot and bury the thread tails as I go. Leaving the tails until the end to bury always gets in my way.

  16. #16
    Super Member Watson's Avatar
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    I do the same as Feline Fanatic.

    Watson

  17. #17
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    I've gone more to knotting and burying the threads. I keep a larger eye needle on my handlebars so I can do it as I'm working. It's a real drag to be looking the quilt over trying to find all the thread tails later on. If for some reason I don't, I try to put a safety pin near the spot as that is a lot easier to find.

    if I can start and stop at a good hiding spot, I'll do that. Often I stitch until I run out of bobbin thread, and then I'll rip back enough stitches to get at a good point and have enough thread to knot and bury. I just hate having a bunch of partial bobbins that I have to carry into the house to rewind to use for piecing. It's not a big deal, just something that bugs me to do.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

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    One thing to add when threads are snipped rather than tied: Add a small drop of Fray Block to the snipped threads. I find that it does not leave a mark and doesn't change the hand of the fabric. You could test on scraps. I like it better than Fray Check because of those qualities.

  19. #19
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    I just take 2 to 3 stitches front and back , not a problem so far ( 13 years )

  20. #20
    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    I agree with QuiltE, I leave tails at both ends long enough to tie and bury as I go. I used to cut them off as my robotic system will stitch the 1st couple stitches real close before doing the rest of the pattern and again at the end but if the thread breaks you don't have that option. I have small magnets on my machine handle where I keep my small scissors, tweezers and a couple sizes of needles so they're right where I need them at any time to do whatever it is I need them for. Have them up high enough so they don't get in my way if I'm using my handles.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member lyric girl's Avatar
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    If at all possible, if you can start and stop off of the quilt or in the edge where the binding will go, you can just cut off your threads without having to worry about burying them.

  22. #22
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    I always seem to have issues with getting a trilobal (like Glide, Magnifico, etc) thread to "lock" the stitches at the start/stop by just doing 3 tiny stitches so today while at the Gammill "Quilt with Confidence" class I asked one of the instructors for a solution. She said she always takes 3 tiny stitches and then moves the thread tail to the other side, so that she can take another stitch or 2 with the tails being stitched down. Makes sense and I'm glad to hear a way that still keeps the the start so thread doesn't build up.

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