A clever needle threading tip and how to tie a quilter’s knot

When my older daughter was a baby, I spent her nap time watching recorded episodes of Alex Anderson’s “Simply Quilts.” It was on HGTV before that channel booted off sewing and craft shows (much to my sadness), and I’d say that at least 75 percent of my quilting knowledge came from her show.

It’s been too many years so I don’t remember who the guest quilter was on the day that I was blown away by a simple tip for how to thread a needle – so the tail stays put! – and how to tie a quilter’s knot.

I had done plenty of sewing by that point, and was surprised that no one had shared those tips with me before.

tie a quilter's knot by and thread a needle by sewmccool.com

And if you’re a non-quilter, don’t get that glaze in your eyes…

…(you know the one!)

The “quilter’s knot” applies to all of us who sew!

What you’ll need

* Needle
* Thread
* Beeswax or thread conditioner (optional)
* Scissors

How to tie a quilter’s knot

First, cut a piece of thread that’s about the length from your tip of your finger to your elbow. It’s never good to have too long of a strand or it will tangle easier.

Then, open your container of beeswax or thread conditioner. Drag your thread through it, applying pressure with your thumb so the strand is evenly coated (below). This is optional, but it really helps prevent tangling and unwanted knots. After using the beeswax or thread conditioner, wipe any excess off the thread with your fingers.

threading a needle using beeswax by sewmccool.com

Now thread your needle.

Anchor the thread tail to the eye of the needle by stretching a 2-3in thread tail over your index finger on your left hand (if you’re right handed) or your right hand (if you’re left handed). You’ll want to make sure the thread is taut, so that you can insert your needle into the thread, essentially splitting the threads of the thread (ha, I know, it sounds weird!). Pierce the needle in the middle of the thread.

…I know it looks a little like I’m stabbing my finger below, but I’m not – just splitting the thread with the needle. I think I took that photo 15 times and it was never perfect, but I finally had to throw in the towel and settle for a B+ photo…..sorry!

Pull the needle through, and the thread will stop once it hits the eye of the needle.

Now you can sew away without having to hold the tail or worrying the needle will slip out!


Tie a quilter's knot and thread a needle so it stays by sewmccool.com


Next you’ll want to make your quilter’s knot by following the four steps below.

First, bring the long end of the thread up to the sharp end of the needle. Hold the very end with one finger, and with the other hand, wrap it around the needle at least three times.

Then, keeping the thread wrapped, carefully push it down with your thumb and index finger. Pull this gently down the remainder of the thread, all the way to the bottom.

You should be able to reach the bottom with the tidy knot – but if not, you’ll only have a little bit of a tail to clip.

Four steps to tie a quilter's knot by sewmccool.com


Now – what are you waiting for? Time to start sewing!

If you want to learn how to bury your knot in the layers of fabric (so it doesn’t sit on top), you can read about that in my post about hand-sewing a button.

Also – in another post I’ve got some great tips for sewing a perfect quarter-inch seam allowance.
Deanna McCool writes for sewmccool.com. To make sure you don’t miss any fun tutorials, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! :)



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  1. Cindy S says

    Thanks for the tips! It looks like you are just bringing one of the two threads up to the needle to wrap around, is that right?

  2. Rhonda says

    Thank you! I was shown this in a quilting class and then got home and couldn’t remember! Nice to have pictures.


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