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Beginning and ending the quilting stitch

by Esther Riccomini
(Edinboro, PA USA)

Should I back stitch the beginning and end of the quilting stitch?


There are usually many ways to anything in quilting, and starting and stopping a line of quilting stitches is no different.

While in garment construction, backstitching is a perfectly acceptable way to secure seam lines, we don't encourage it in quilting. For me, it's an issue of unsightly thread buildup. Two or three lines of quilting in the same spot will have more thread and an unsightly thicker quilting line. I'd notice that on my own quilts, so...

...I use two different methods to disguise my starts and stops.
  • Micro-stitching: I use this for invisible thread (nylon or polyester) and the 50 wt cotton and 100 wt silk threads that I usually use. You can read about this technique here at "How to Start and Stop a Line of Stitches".

  • Hand Knotting Thread Tails: As the name implies, you'll use a hand sewing needle to knot and bury your thread tails inside the batting layer to disguise your starts and stops.

    This is my preferred technique when using a thread with shine or glitz. The micro stitches of the previous method create a space of 'no-glitz' and I notice it in my own work. Heavier threads are also a candidate for hand knotting. Micro stitching with a thicker thread can create stitches that look more like little knots. Hand knotting solves that problem. Click here to learn more about this machine quilting technique.

You may find some of the other machine quilting techniques to be helpful as you are machine quilting.

Thank you for your question.


Julie Baird

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