The Correct Way to Tie Knots – Free Motion Quilting


Can one have a knot philosophy you ask?  Do knots rise to the level of deserving a philosophy?   Let me explain…I’ve avoided the subject of knots for some time because I rarely do knots the “correct” way.  I know how to do them–and you will, too after this tutorial–but I find them tedious to stitch.   Here’s where the “philosophy” comes in…I quilt for my enjoyment and for my family.  I want to make beautiful quilts, but I also want to have fun in the process.  Stopping every few minutes to tie knots takes the joy out of quilting for me.  Whenever I sit down to free motion quilt, I have some idea racing in my head that wants “out”–that is, I want to get the idea onto fabric (before I forget it?).  Stopping to tie knots is not conducive to my racing-brain rhythm…

So today, I will demonstrate how to properly tie a knot.  Tomorrow, I will demonstrate Knotting the LCK way.  My knots look nice-like they are part of the design, but they are not correct and I don’t know how they would be scored by a judge.  Any quilt judges out there?


FMQ Knots the LCK WayLower your presser foot. (Bernina 820-tap the presser foot down button.)

FMQ Knots the LCK WayRotate your hand wheel  forward until your needle pierces  the fabric.  (On the Bernina 820-press the needle down button.)

FMQ Knots the LCK Way

Bring the bobbin thread to the surface by continuing to rotate the hand wheel forward and moving  the needle to the UP position.  (Bernina 820-tap needle up button.)   (The above two steps can also be accomplished by heel-tapping the foot pedal on Berninas.)

VERY IMPORTANT--Remember my Inattentive Stitching Accident-from which I still don’t have normal circulation or movement –Read HERE and HERETake your foot off the sewing pedal now and whenever you stop sewing to work on the knot!

FMQ Knots the LCK Way

Using a pair of tweezers, pull the bobbin thread until you have a few inches to hold onto.  Hold both the bobbin and the top thread and begin stitching.  Stitch a short distance and then stop to tie off the knot.

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

With your foot off the pedal-– tie the two threads in a knot.

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

Using a self-threading needle, thread both threads into the needle.  (NOTE-many specialty threads- including my favorite-rayon thread-tend to shred in self threading needles and require a regular hand-sewing needle for this procedure–even more time consuming!)

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

Once your needle is threaded, bury the stitch by going back into your first stitch and between the top layer and the batting.

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

Pull through and remove your needle.

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

Snip off the threads as close to the fabric as possible.  (Curved scissors help here.)

FMQ Knots-Correct Method

When you are finished with a line of FMQ, simply stop and cut your threads.  Then flip the quilt over, pull the threads to the back side of the quilt and knot off as we did above.

FMQ Knots-Correct Method


FMQ Knots-Correct MethodWe’ve all heard it said:   “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!”  and while I agree in principle…I know these knots would take the joy out of quilting for me…

Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you LCK Knots and then you can decide…



25 thoughts on “The Correct Way to Tie Knots – Free Motion Quilting

  1. Look forward to tomorrow to see how you knot. I have to agree with you the correct way is tedious and fiddly. I have my method too. Feeding the threads through to the back, tying a knot and feeding the tails through the fabric between the back and the wadding. Similar to the one you have shown but I do them all at once at the end.

  2. Thank you for this post. I am excited to see your next post. I find this method tedious even though I know how to do it and have often done, But, if you have a better mouse trap, bring it on!!! I am truly open to new ways to do what we love!

  3. There is a self threading needle called a spiral eye needle that threads from the side. It works well with those delicate threads.

  4. So do I… I use a self threading needle, but I don’ t tie any knots. Depending on the thread they get undone. So I just put the tails back into the fabric and “stitch” the batting, and then leave the tails inside. I also do this at the very end, when I’m done with the quilting. Anyway, I loved the photos and the very clear indications!

  5. thank you for all these very interesting tutorials, I exercise, I exercise, but I would never get a beautiful quilting that yours!


  6. Spiral eye needles eliminate the thread shredding problem. I found them at a quilt show. A bit pricey but worth it.

    • Didn’t know there was such but will sure look for them now! I’ve been leaving time to bury thread tails at the end of my quilting time,. Using a regular needle takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R and the regular self-threading pulls batting out the back if pushed all the way through. Ugh. Thanks for the info.

  7. I use the self threading needle and had the same problem of the thread breaking. I now twist the two threads together making it strong and then I hold the needle on the quilt then pull the thread into the needle. Now I hardly ever break my thread.

  8. Wow…mine were way wong..ehehehehehhe (Elmer Fudd laugh)
    I just hit the Knot button on my Bernina….(lots of gasping I’m sure)….I’ll work on my “ain’t got time for that” attitude towards knots. 🙂

  9. I agree, stopping to tie knots brings a halt to my creativity too. I will give this a try, but I have my doubts!! It’s nice to get some tips on the right way to do things, thank you for the info!


  10. I also use the spiral needles — and I don’t tie a knot, but take tiny stitches, entering first where the stitching ended then bury the ends. If I’m not in the mood for them as I go along I put a pin to mark the spot because sometimes those thread ends are hard to find later. And when my bobbin runs out, I only have about a half inch of thread end to work with – I just put the needle in ready to take a stitch and try to wrap that half-inch around and into the eye of that spiral needle and pull it between the layers. Works well. I do this all from the front of the quilt and it works just fine. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

  11. This is how I do it. I don’t mind it…I try to hide the tail where I’m going to continue sewing, so that the threads will be further secured when sewn over. Look forward to tmrw’s post!!

  12. Except that this is machine quilting, this is the way my grandmother taught me to tie off when hand quilting too. I am so used to doing it, that when I try to do a few stitches in the first & last hole to fix the stitch line, I forget & still knot & bury… old habits die hard. New habits take 21 days to make permanent.

  13. I call my knot tying TV work because that is when I actual tie them. I pull the threads to the front and back as you demonstrate, but I don’t tie them off until later.

  14. I agree about the stunting of creativity, but when I put so much work and energy into a project, I want it to last. I want to feel confident that those threads aren’t going to come un-stitched after the first washing, because I too make quilts for my family to use. I knot and bury when I start and stop because I hate funerals–especially ones that take so much time like burying threads. I know some people enjoy doing this in front of the TV, but I don’t. Seems like more work tomorrow.

    I am however, sitting on pins and needles waiting for LCK way to do it. If it’s faster, holds up well and looks good, I am definitely going to try it!

    Thanks Lori!!

  15. Lori, there is a way to bring the bobbin thread to the top when you end your quilting so that you can tie off and bury from the top the same as you do at the beginning.

    You can see how to do it in this free Craftsy video by Cindy Needham. She shows how to bring the bobbin thread up around the 1 min 10 sec mark. Ironically the video is about beginning & ending quilting lines but she doesn’t knot and bury…does small stitches and cuts them. Check it out….

    Looking forward to seeing your method of knotting tomorrow.

  16. Oooph, that’s waay to fussy for my brain. I don’t “show”, so I won’t worry about it. Looking forward to your method!

  17. I’m with you. The knot tying is such a pain and I would not machine quilt nearly as much if I had to do that. Those self-threading needles are nothing short of EVIL!

  18. One of Cindy Needham’s favorite tools is the Clover “Soft Touch Thread Pic” for fishing the bobbin thread up to the surface. Don’t know how I sewed all my life without such a tool; keeps fingers away from the needle, and can be handled while wearing Machingers. The thread pic has a teeny hook on the end similar to a (microscopic!) crochet hook. Recommend it highly.

  19. I’m with you, Lori – Totally a knot-tier and tail-tucker. I used to do that tiny-stitches thing, but after too many sinking-heart times of finding those to be inadequate in the face of multiple washings and not being completely invisible as start/stop points, I was finished with that shortcut!

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