Some sewing projects require hand sewing in addition to machine sewing. When you hand sew, the thread needs to be anchored in the fabric so your stitches are secure.
There are several ways to tie a knot in thread for hand sewing, but I have 3 ways that I use frequently.
Two are knots but the third is not. The third way is my favorite and the one I use whenever I’m doubling the thread.
Just So You Know: I’m right-handed and don’t know if my tutorials will work for those of you who are left-handed. Still, I encourage you to take a look at the videos and photos. Hopefully, the techniques will be something you can use.
Sanity Saver: When you’re hand sewing, it’s common for the thread to get twisted and become difficult to work with. If this happens to you, hold up the project and let the needle and thread dangle. The thread will unwind but the needle may fall off the thread so keep an eye on it.
Needles and Thread
To keep this post focused on showing you 3 ways to tie a knot in thread, I don’t talk in-depth about selecting needles and thread for your project.
However, these are two important factors in hand sewing.
If you’re not sure what needle to use for your project, check out the Hand Needle Guide from Joann.com.
It features photos and descriptions of 14 different hand sewing needles, as well as needle threaders, thimbles and a couple of other hand sewing tools.
Does thread have you confused?
According to this sewingpartsonline.com article Thread Mastery: A Guide to Understanding Thread, all-purpose thread is what you’ll use 95% of the time. It is good for all weights of fabric and is usually made from polyester or cotton.
The Thread Mastery Guide is very in-depth and provides A LOT of information. If you want to learn more about thread, it’s a great resource to read and bookmark for future reference.
Books for Your Library
The above-linked resources on needles and thread are free, but if you are looking for some excellent books to add to your sewing library, I recommend the following two books.
Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle is a pocket-sized resource that provides easy-to-consume information about both machine and hand sewing needles.
For each needle, photos are included along with details such as fabrics, threads, sizes, and tasks that are appropriate for the needle.
There are 13 sewing machine needles and 17 hand sewing needles featured in this book.
The Ultimate Thread Guide by Becky Goldsmith lives up to its subtitle Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Perfect Thread for Every Project.
My favorite part of this book is the section on thread manufacturers. There are 14 manufacturers presented in the book and each has a 2-page spread giving a snapshot of their threads at the time of the book’s printing (2019).
Part of the snapshot is a quick reference chart of different threads and includes the thread name, fiber, weight/ply, use, and needle size.
In addition, there are several chapters to help you build foundational knowledge about threads.
Video – How to Tie 3 Knots
To see my go-to knot tying techniques in action, watch the video below.
For a photo tutorial with detailed descriptions of each technique, keep scrolling.
After the tutorials, I linked other hand sewing techniques you need to know. These include several basic stitches and how to tie off the thread.
Also mentioned after the tutorials are several projects you can find on my website that use hand stitching.
- Around the Finger starts at 48 seconds.
- Around the Needle starts at 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- With a Loop begins at 4 minutes.
Pictures – How to Tie a Knot Around the Finger
Not always pretty, this knot was the first one I learned. I used it for years. Sometimes the knots turned out perfect. More often than not, they were a loopy mass at the end of my thread. Regardless, if it anchors the thread, I’m happy!
Cut a length of thread 18″-20″ long.
Hold the end of the thread between your thumb and index finger on your left hand. With your right hand, grab the thread close to your left hand with your thumb and index finger letting the rest of the thread rest in your right hand.
Wrap the thread clockwise (away from you) around your finger 2 or 3 times, catching the thread loops between your thumb and index finger.
Push your thumb toward the end of your index finger. This will cause the threads to twist together and roll toward the end of your finger as your finger moves back along your thumb.
Tip: If the thread won’t move, you can use the pad or nail on your right index finger to pull the thread along your left index fingernail toward the tip while pushing your thumb to get the thread rolling. Another option is to wet the end of your left index finger before starting the knot.
When the twisted loop of thread is at the end of your finger, press the end of the twisted loop into the pad of your thumb with the nail/pad of your left-hand middle finger.
Hold firmly, release your index finger then pull the thread with your right hand. This will cause the twisted threads to move to the end of the thread and form a knot.
If the knot is a little tangled looking, don’t worry. Pull on it gently to make sure it will hold and it’s good to go.
Making knots take practice. Make several knots in a row to get the hang of how to tie a knot around your finger.
Pictures – How to Tie a Knot Around the Needle
When I started quilting is when I learned this technique. It’s the method I use most often when I’m working with a single thread.
Cut a length of thread 18″-20″ long.
Put the thread through the eye of the needle. Hold the needle in your right hand and the end of the thread in your left.
Place the needle on top of the thread about 1/2″ from the end. Put both on the pad of your index finger on your right hand. Hold in place.
With your left hand, wrap the thread counter-clockwise around the tip of the needle 2 or 3 times.
Grasp the wrapped threads with the thumb and index finger on your right hand so they stay around the needle. With the thumb of your left hand, slowly push the needle up until the threads that are wrapped around the needle move close to the eye of the needle.
Take the end of your needle between the thumb and index finger of your left hand. Pull the needle up (the nail of your index finger and thumb on the right hand should be just above the wrapped threads.)
Pull the wrapped threads down the length of the thread while pulling the needle up until a knot forms at the end.
Making knots take practice. Make several knots in a row to get the hang of how to tie a knot by wrapping it around your needle.
Pictures – How to Tie a Knot with a Loop
Technically, this technique isn’t a knot but a loop. I use this method when I’m doubling my thread.
Cut a length of thread 30″ – 32″
Fold the length in half and match up the 2 ends.
Thread them both through the eye of the needle.
The other end should form a loop.
From the wrong side (or back) of the fabric, insert the needle so it goes to the right side (front).
Pull it through the fabric but make sure the loop remains on the wrong side.
Insert the needle from the right side (front) to the wrong side (back) close to where the needle was before.
Pull it through the fabric and slide it through the loop.
Pull carefully until the thread is flat against the back and the loop is flush with the fabric.
Hand Sewing for Beginners
There are several basic hand stitches you need to know. Sometimes hand stitching does the job better than your sewing machine or it allows you to do something your sewing machine can’t.
The type of stitch really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
I created a series of picture and video tutorials to demonstrate hand sewing techniques you should know:
- Tie a Starting Knot
- Invisible Stitch (aka ladder stitch)
- Running Stitch
- Blind Stitch
- Whip Stitch
- Tie an Ending Knot
You can see all the above lessons in one place at Types of Hand Stitches: a Guide for Beginners.
Projects With Hand Sewing
Most of the sewing projects featured on The Ruffled Purse require the use of a sewing machine.
The projects below need a little hand sewing, too.
- How to Make Pattern Weights
- Sew a Round Pillow Cover with Fringe Trim
- Sew a Square Pillow Cover with Pom Pom Trim
- How to Sew a Fabric Yo-Yo
- How to Sew a Tic-Tac-Toe Board
Looking for some projects that require only hand sewing? Check out the following posts:
- How to Sew a Fabric Yo-Yo
- How to Make a Yo-Yo Garland
- Applique Smooth Edges on a Curve
- How to Fix a Rip in Pants
- How to Fix a Hole in the Back Pocket of Jeans
The ability to hand sew can be used with a variety of sewing interests such as mending, quilting, clothing, and embroidery.
If you’re interested in embroidery, there are a couple of books you need to check out. Both are part of my own personal sewing library.
Doodle-Stitching by Aimee Ray starts off with more than 20 pages of information to get you started with embroidery including a stitch library, materials and tools, and sewing essentials.
Then there are almost 30 fun projects with detailed directions to get you started on incorporating embroidery into all kinds of sewing and quilting projects.
Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan has a few pages of general instructions and visuals of how to do basic embroidery stitches.
The best part of Patchwork Loves Embroidery is how most of the projects combine hand stitching with quilting.
My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.
Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to get it figured out!
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