Rose's Quilting Blog

What do you do with "your" quilting thread tails when quilting your quilt?

What do you do with "your" quilting thread tails when quilting your quilt?

What do you do with your thread tails while quilting?

This is once again something that I’m often asked, but many times before
I answer the person I ask them what they themselves actually do with there’s.
I often get some very interesting answers, but many are very similar to the majority of quilters that I ask this to.

So here I’m asking you, what do you do with your thread tails when your
in the middle of quilting, whether that be a very small A4 size quilt or sample piece or as large as a 3 metre square quilt.

Do you stitch up and down in the one spot for a couple of stitches?
I find this leaves a little knobbly spot, like a little knot. Most certainly your end is never going to come undone but the feel of this nobble is not so good.

Do you run a couple of back stitches over your work to seal the end in,
and then cut off your tails?

Although lots of people do this, it’s not my preference, as you’re still able
to then see just where you've started and finished your quilting. It always still shows. The only time I ever do that is when I’m using water soluble thread, as let’s face it, the moment I place this in water it’s going to dissolve anyway.

Maybe you leave all those ends there until you have finished all your
quilting to run in later, only then to find that you’ve actually quilted over all those long tail ends. That’s okay, because with lots of patience and the tip of a needle or pin, and often many hours, you’re able to “unthread” them from where you’ve stitched them down…This would take a long time and lots’ of patience.

Or maybe, just maybe, you decide that it doesn’t really matter and just cut
the thread ends off without actually doing anything to them, hoping that as time goes by, your stitching doesn’t come undone. You think it wouldn’t, would it, all the time knowing quite well, that it possibly will, but in true reality the stitching will come undone over time.

It’s definitely okay to just use whatever method you choose to, as I always
say, “It is your personal choice, just what and how you do something”, but if you want a nicer finish to your quilts and/or your entering your quilts into quilt shows then what I do with all my quilting thread tails may just interest you a little.

Now just what do I do, with all those
thousands of quilting thread ends?

I very tediously pull up the bobbin thread from underneath, using the point of a needle, then knot them together and run in every thread tail as I go, using a split eyed needle, so I don’t sew over them, I don’t have little knots that you can feel, and my sewing doesn’t come undone. As you pull this knotted thread back into the quilt, you’ll hear a little “pop” as the knot pulls back into the quilt as well. The knot can’t be felt and it stops the tails from working their way back out over time.

I run my ends in on every type of stitching that I do within my quilt.
It doesn’t matter if I’m ditch stitching or quilting, it doesn’t matter if it’s something very small, or something very large, or even if it's monofilament thread all my thread ends or tails are treated in the same way.

I always use a little pair of Sewing pliers for pulling my needle through my fabric. These pliers are priceless to me, as I use them for many different uses across all my quilting work.

I run my threads in as far as I can, as this makes them that much more secure as well. I take the thread down through the wadding, so you’ll never be able to see your threads through your quilt, and it’ll also help hold your tails there more secure. This particularly needs to be done, if you’re using a dark thread and you run it under a light-coloured fabric, so always get into the habit of running your threads down into your wadding.

Also as you’re running these threads in as you go, then your tails are very secure as you’re then also actually sewing over these ends, while quilting your quilt.

This is an invaluable thing to do if you plan to enter your quilt within
shows, as the judges will like you so much more, as they cannot tell anywhere just where your sewing starts and finishes. Check out this previous blog post for“What do judges look for when judging a quilt".

You may think that it would be very tedious running all these ends in this way, but once you get used to it, it’s quicker and easier than doing thread
“run ins” later.

This below image is a section cut out of the left side of the gate above to give you a closer view of the flowers etc. Every piece, every flower, every petal has all been ditch stitched with many thousands of thread tails run in while doing the quilting of this approx 2.7 mts X 2.7 mt square quilt.

When I'm creating a quilt like this one, it's imperative that I run in all my thread tails as I go, otherwise I'd just have a huge tangled mess on the reverse side of my quilts.

It is the little tools like the split eyed needles and the sewing pliers that help me to be able to manage to do this. We sometimes under estimate the value
of our "little & often inexpensive" sewing tools we own, but their value is
Huge as to what they can do and help us achieve.

Hopefully I've been able to inspire you to run in your thread tails as you go within your next quilting project that you're working on.... You'll find these over at

That's it for me for this week,
as usual I'll be back same time, same place next week...

Have the most beautiful creative & inspiring day
Be Creative, Be Inspired