Tutorial: Quilter’s Knot

Mal | Media,Quilting,Sewing,Tutorials | Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


I’ve been gone for the past week attending my brother’s wedding. (You probably only noticed if you sent me an email and are waiting for a response!)

Because I was with my mom again, I convinced her to let me take photos of a few of the techniques she’s recently taught me. The first I wanted to share is called the “quilter’s knot” and it makes a much tidier knot than the one I’m used to. Normally, I lick my finger, wrap around and around, and twist it off. The resulting bird’s nest of a knot is unpredictable and, well, ugly.

Not so with this tidy quilter’s knot. Enjoy these photos of my mom’s demonstration.

 Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 1

To begin, hold the needle and the end of the thread so that they are pointing toward each other.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 2

Bring them together to form a cross, then

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 3

holding the end of the thread against the needle,

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 4

begin wrapping the thread around the shaft of the needle.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 5

Wrap the thread around the needle 3-6 times.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 6

Grasp the wrapped threads snugly between your thumb and forefinger.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 7

Pull the needle through the coil of wrapped threads with your other hand.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 8

You’re still holding the coil between your thumb and forefinger as you pull.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 9

And pull…

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 10

And pull, all the way to the end of the thread. When you reach the end, give a good sharp tug to tighten the knot.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot Final

And, voila! A tidy little knot will be left there in your hand and you can begin hand sewing with ease.


  1. Wow that is one shit-hot knot… I went off immediately to try it and it works! Who’d have thought we’d be learning knots on the www. Thanks Mal’s Mom!

    Comment by Sue — 7 April 2009 @ 8:00 am

  2. I’ve tried this before but with wrapping the thread around the needle only twice. I found that a little unpredictable so will be trying your mum’s method as soon as reasonably possible!

    Comment by aneela — 7 April 2009 @ 10:45 am

  3. How wonderful to have a sewing-quilting mom who’s right there and can show you tips like this. Most of us have to learn from a book or maybe even (bleech) a video on the web!

    Comment by Leslie — 8 April 2009 @ 8:00 am

  4. Seriously, 4-8 times? How on earth does it get “popped” into the quilt and doesn’t it leave a big hole? We wrap ours around 2-3 times and sometimes three times leaves a hole. We do use quilting thread which is thicker. Does your mom?

    Comment by Dolores Sedore — 14 April 2009 @ 8:43 am

  5. Dolores, I’m not sure that my mom “pops” hers into the quilt. I think this is just the knot she uses when she knows she will be able to hide the knot. I suppose that wrapping it 2-3 times may leave a small hole if you are popping it through, but in my experience I’ve been able to ease the fabric back around a hole once it’s popped through. Of course, any knot small enough to pop through may also be small enough to pop out! So it’s a tradeoff.

    Comment by Mal — 14 April 2009 @ 9:26 am

  6. I wrap mine 3 times. then take the needle and pull the thread through the batting until the knot is snug on top and the needle comes up where you want to start quilting. Then I pop the knot through. If there is a tiny hole ( usually is) then i take my fingernail and scratch gently at it and the hole disappears. hope this helps!

    Comment by Carolyn — 15 June 2009 @ 1:41 pm

  7. i wrap mine 4 times. i think it’s some OCD thing i do when counting the turns. my grandmother taught me this knot a looooong time ago. she called it ,”a tailor’s knot, ” and wrapped it 3. she was my go to gal for sewing tips. i actually had a question on monday about lining a jacket and thought about calling her for a sec only to remember she’s not with us anymore. anyway, that ‘s the great thing about the web, isn’t it?

    Comment by jennifer — 3 September 2009 @ 11:45 pm

  8. [...] again) and I came up with this gem of a tutorial on ladder stitching quilt binding. Perfect! Her tutorial on making a quilter’s knot also pretty much changed my life – I had no idea knots could be so [...]

    Pingback by amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects} « life — 11 June 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  9. my sister is going to have another baby this year and i am selecting cute baby clothes for her.~,”

    Comment by Julian Cooper — 20 June 2010 @ 11:58 am

  10. Hey Mal! I searched “hand stitching quilt” and got a hit for your blog. I don’t know how I even got to this point in my quilting process without your wisdom and guidance :)

    One question: do you have a post on tying off the thread? I’ve read about the mamma jamma knot and the ladder stitching, but what do I do when I run out of thread??? I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Comment by Beeps — 15 December 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  11. This is fantastic! I’ve been looking for this information in photos. Works perfectly! Now if I could just do this right so the tie off knot ends up between the layers….I get it to knot but I can’t get it to go through the first layer…maybe I’m wrapping the thread around the needle too many times, as the ladies above are suggesting…

    Comment by Ilene — 14 May 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this….up until I read this I too was using the ‘bird’s nest knot’ and it is as you said unsightly but now I can have pretty little knots. Thanks again Sharina

    Comment by Sharina Bonham — 19 May 2012 @ 3:02 am

  13. Hi there! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him.

    Pretty sure he’ll have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    Comment by David — 22 January 2013 @ 3:02 am

  14. [...] again) and I came up with this gem of a tutorial on ladder stitching quilt binding. Perfect! Her tutorial on making a quilter’s knot also pretty much changed my life – I had no idea knots could be so [...]

    Pingback by amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects} » Permanent Riot — 4 February 2013 @ 1:00 pm

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