Basic Sewing 101: Knotting the Thread

Needle and thread
How do you keep the thread from pulling all the way through? Knot it!

Once you have the thread on the needle, you’ll need to knot the other end so that it doesn’t pull out of the fabric as you sew. What other end, you ask? Well, you should sew with a piece of thread about 18 inches to 24 inches long at a time. Any longer might tend to tangle, fray, or break, which is really frustrating when you are trying to sew.

I was originally taught a different method of knotting thread, which once again, usually worked…but not always. There was another method I tried for awhile that was so bad, I have amnesia surrounding it!

A better way:

Instead, I am teaching you a method I learned a few years after I began quilting. It is by far the easiest method I have ever learned to knot a thread.

First, hold the threaded needle point up.

Hold needle point up and thread end down
Hold the needle point up, and the tail of thread end down.

Next to it, place the tail end of the thread with the tail pointing down.

Pinch the thread tail and needle
Pinch the bottom of the thread tail with the thumb and forefinger of the hand holding the needle.

Pinch the bottom of the thread and the needle together with one thumb and forefinger.

Wrap the thread around the needle
With your other hand, wrap the thread around the tip of the needle.

With the other hand, wrap the thread around the needle three to five times.

Wrap several times around
Wrap three to five times as needed. More wraps make a bigger knot.

Thicker threads and yarn may only take three wraps for a good knot. Very fine threads may take up to seven wraps to get a big enough knot to prevent it from pulling through the fabric.

Continue wrapping.
Continue wrapping till there are enough wraps. You will quickly get a feel for the number of wraps required for the fabric and thread you are using.
Wrapping complete.
Wrapping complete.

Slide the wraps down the needle until they bunch together at the bottom.

Slide the wraps down the needle.
Slide the wraps down the needle.


Pinch the wraps together.
Pinch the wraps together near the bottom of the needle.

Pinch the wraps together, and pull up on the needle with the other hand.

Pull up the needle.
Pull up on the needle with your other hand.

Keep pinching the wraps together as you slide them down the thread.

Pull needle and thread through.
Keep pinching the wraps together as you pull the needle and thread through them.
Keep wraps pinched together.
Keep the wraps pinched together.
Keep pulling.
Nearing the end…keep going…
Keep going.
Almost done!

When you reach the bottom of the thread, magically, a knot appears!

A knot appears.
A knot magically appears!

It is fine if there is a short tail sticking out of the knot – and the knot may stay knotted better if there is one! Trim the tail to between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch if it is longer than that.

If you do not have a knot at the end…you started with the tail end of the thread pointing up, instead of down. Turn it around the other way, and try again.

See? You’ve got it! 🙂

Are you a visual person who likes to see it in action? Check out my video of the thread knotting process.

Ready to move on? Next up: Three Basic Stitches everyone should know!