2023 Thread Matters: Burying Thread Tails

Greetings fellow thread lovers! As Master Educator and Aurifilosophy Program Coordinator I’m delighted to introduce fellow Aurifilosopher Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting Jetgirl! We were thrilled when Yvonne joined the Aurifilosophy team in 2020 knowing that she’d bring her extraordinary knowledge and attention to detail into the role. Having been encouraged by her paternal grandmother to make a quilt 25+ years ago, Yvonne has a wealth of experience under her belt. This, combined with her background as an aerospace engineer, designer, and technical editor allows Yvonne to create impeccable patterns that have a modern, colorful, and curved flair to them. We love seeing each new pattern that she creates and have great respect for the creative experimentation that she so generously documents and shares. HUGE thanks to Yvonne for sharing her knowledge with us today!

Is your shop, group or guild looking for insightful, inspiring and educational information on thread? Consider booking a virtual or in-person program with one of our skilled Aurifilosophers. Learn more about Aurifilosophy and find your favorite Aurifilosopher here

Happy Stitching!
Karen L. Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co.

It has happened to us all: we are happily quilting along, blissfully unaware that the bobbin thread is about to run out right in the center of our quilt. The question is, when the bobbin thread ends, how do we quickly secure the ends of the quilting thread and get started again? Today, I’m excited to share about one of the most requested technique tutorials that I receive: how to bury thread tails in a quilt sandwich.

You might be wondering why it is important to know how to bury thread tails, and that’s a great question. Not all quilts need to have thread tails buried! There are many times when I select a quilting motif (like horizontal or vertical straight-line quilting) that starts and stops off of the quilt top so that I do not have to worry about burying thread tails. However, like in the scenario above, if my bobbin thread runs out in the middle of the quilt, instead of ripping the quilting line, I find it much quicker to simply tie off the thread, bury the thread tail, and start quilting with a fresh bobbin where the first bobbin ran out.

There are also other options for securing quilting tails other than burying the thread tails in the quilt sandwich. Setting your stitch length to 0 and stitching in the same location for a few stitches will usually effectively “knot” the top and bobbin thread together, and then the thread can simply be clipped at the surface of the top and back of the quilt. However, I prefer to bury my thread tails because I worry that clipping the thread near the knot will not be secure for high use quilts that get washed frequently. 

Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the different tools and options available to us for burying thread tails.

I personally quilt predominantly with Aurifil 50wt thread, but I love using thicker Aurifl thread weights, too. To best share how I bury thread tails, I created the Burying Thread Tails YouTube video tutorial demonstration show below.

The demonstration starts by showing my normal quilting combination: 50wt thread and Sench Side Threading Needles. I also created a mini quilt and free motion quilted motifs using Aurifil 40wt, 28wt, and 12wt thread. Using the mini quilt sample, I show how to use a regular needle to bury thread tails (fancy needles are not required!), a SnagMagic Needle tool, and a Tulip Embroidery needle.

I like to make notes on my sample quilts, so that I can quickly look back and get all the information I need to set myself up for success the next time I want to use a particular thread weight or technique. For this sample quilt, I noted the thread combination I used on the top and in the bobbin along with the needle I used while quilting. For more information about pairing thread weight with the needle on your sewing machine, visit Thread Matters: Pairing Thread Weight and Needles.

When I am quilting, I start by bringing my bobbin thread up to the top of the quilt sandwich. When my quilting is complete (or when I run out of bobbin), I also bring the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt sandwich, as shown above. The photo also shows that I prefer to pair 12wt thread on top with matching 50wt thread in the bobbin.

When burying thread tails, after bringing the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt, the next thing that needs to happen is creating a double knot to securely join the thread tails together. I personally prefer to make the double knot a thread or two away from the top of the quilt sandwich. This allows me to tug the knot below the quilt top surface during the burying process.

When I am working with thicker threads, like the 12wt thread shown above, I find that using the Sench Side Threading needles are no longer the best choice. I personally switch to using a SnagMagic Needle Tool, which has a large loop attached to the end of the needle, making it easy to thread heavier weight thread. As an added bonus, with such a large loop, it’s super easy on the eyes to thread, too!

I purposefully used bold thread colors on a white quilt sandwich so that I could discuss shadowing as a consideration when burying thread tails. Because the dark navy 12wt thread could shadow when buried underneath the quilt top, I chose to bury the thread tail as close to the previous quilted line as possible. By tucking the thread tail back along the quilting line, the thread tail will not stand out and be as obvious to the eye.

Usually, I tend to choose thread colors that blend in or match the quilt top, like I did for my Cloudy Night Sky quilt. When I was burying the navy thread tails, I made sure that I kept the tails buried underneath navy fabric and not under the off-white fabric so that the navy thread would not show behind the lighter fabric. And when possible, I buried the off-white thread underneath a seam allowance where the fabric was double thick to help keep the thread from being visible.

One last note about burying thread tails: I personally bury thread tails as they are created. Some quilters can work with having a lot of thread tails across the quilt top, but I find all of the extra thread distracting while I am quilting. Like with so much of quilting, the choice of when to bury thread tails (immediately or after the quilting is complete) is all about personal preference and I encourage you to do what works best for you.

I hope that these photos, descriptions, and the Burying Thread Tails YouTube video are helpful resources and encourage you to use the tools you have on hand to start burying your thread tails. Happy quilting!

Hello, I’m Yvonne Fuchs from Quilting Jetgirl, and I love sharing about the things I learn through my quilting journey. I am so grateful for all I have learned to help me grow as a quilter, and my goal is to offer you scaffolding to help bridge gaps to achieve new skills. With a bit of scaffolding and practice, it’s amazing to see how we can all learn and grow. My newest quilt along, Star Pulse, is just about to get started, and I would love to share more tips and tricks with you while we sew together during the quilt along! 

Other places to connect with Yvonne:
Website | Instagram | Facebook | Newsletter | YouTube


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