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How I bury thread

When I first started machine quilting I would either back stitch or run the needle up & down in the same place to anchor the thread as I started machine quilting.  Back stitching creates bulk and if I’m using a variegated thread can look kinda yucky.  Running the needle up & down created little knots of thread on the back – the result of too many up & down stitches, it’s not pretty and if you snip them off the rest of the quilting will eventually start to come out.

After I learned how to bury thread, in a hand quilter fashion, it became  only way I handle thread when beginning and ending machine quilting.  This is what I teach my beginner students and remind my advanced students.

Keep a hand sewing needle, needle threader and a small pair of scissors within hand reach as I start machine quilting.  When I get into the rhythm of quilting these sometimes end up on the floor next to me.  When I go to make the next thread change I make a little bit of a search to find them, but they’re still handy.





Pull up the bobbin thread by holding on to  the top thread and take one stitch – needle goes in and comes right back up.  Because I’m holding on to the thread the bobbin thread loops to the top and I can either grab it with my fingers or sweep it up with the scissors.


Make sure to pull up several inches of bobbin thread so that threading the needle, making the knot and bury it are easier later.



You can see in the above photothat the needle threader is already through the eye of the needle.  When I put them down I do this so that they are both a little easier to find.


While holding onto both the top and bobbin thread take a few stitches in the direction you’re headed.  I usually thy to stitch so that the thread is closer to me rather than behind the machine.

(Special thanks to my hand model and good friend…for working with me to get this photo shoot done)






Thread both the top and bobbin thread through the needle threader and pull them into the eye of the needle.







Make a knot fairly close to but not exactly on top of where the thread is on the quilt top.

This can be achieved by making a small loop and threading the needle through the loop.  Pull the loop tight and there will be a knot.






Put the needle through the hole where the thread is coming to the top of the quilt and go into the batting not all the way through to the back of the quilt.  Have the needle come up several inches or a needles length away.

Give a little bit of a tug to pull the knot into the batting.  You should hear a little pop, unless of course like me you have music blaring in the back ground.





While pulling the thread a little bit clip the thread.

The thread will then head into the batting and you’re ready to keep quilting.

I really like this method!


Happy Quilting!




20 thoughts on “How I bury thread”

  1. I use that technique, except I use the self-threading needles. But I may try your way, as the above said needles do tend to fray the thread.

  2. I will have to try this. I usually do the “stitch in place” method — sometimes it’s smooth, sometimes there are back knots.

    I agree with Maggie that a self threading needle is great for this — I used one last year when hand quilting. The solution to the shredded ends is to make sure the length of the thread you want to bury is long enough that you can click it into the self threading eye (which is when it gets shredded), cut off the shredded part and still have enough length to hold the needle and pull it through the fabric.

    1. That is my friends Bernina 1230 and it’s the original “quilting foot” that Bernina made years ago.

  3. I don’t quilt, so I can usually get away with some messy knots/backstitching—but thanks so much for the tip on pulling the thread through to the other side! I’ve spent ages trying to do it by hand.

  4. I’ve used this method since we talked about it on facebook. I love it. The only thing I do differently is I bury all my thread when I’m done with the quilting process. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  5. Thanks, Teri! I usually do the stitch in the same place…But, it does look messy! I will have to start burying my knots too!

  6. Thanks for a great tutorial on starting the quilting. In the beginners free motion class in Manchester, you taught something a little different at the end of a quilting pattern. Do you have a link describing that?

  7. It is always so frustrating when finishing threads to get a nasty looking knot of thread at the back of your quilt! Love your clear pictures and instructions. If you want to check out our website we did a post on how to bury your threads quiltingfocus.com/2015/05/bury-threads-quilt-layers. It gives it a really neat professional finish! We have Laura Coia from Sew Very Easy showing you how to bury your threads using a brilliant technique. – Happy Quilting

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