Updated on August 26, 2022 by Sarina

Some people abandon sewing altogether in the initial days of starting sewing, just like my daughter did. She got frustrated at simple things like threading a needle, being unable to knot the thread and major things like the sewing machine tangling all the thread in the spool.

In Sewing, such frustrations come up all the time. If you are passionate, you brush away these irritations and carry on.

Making a thread knot is the easiest of things and at the start of sewing or embroidery, does the simple job of locking the stitches from getting undone. But, If you do not want a knot anywhere near your sewing – it is understandable, knots are knobby and somewhat displeasing to the eye (Understatement of the year). There are many simple ways of anchoring your hand sewing stitches – with knots and without knots.

1. Make a knot with your hands

When you have been sewing for a long time you can make these knots in your sleep. But to explain the twirls needed for making this knot is difficult – but it goes like this.

You take the end of the thread and make two or three loops around your right hand forefinger, then using your thumb, twirl it in the forefinger itself so that the loop mix up. Now ease the loops out of the forefinger and then pull the thread to tighten the knot.

But if this one sounds difficult, move onto the next method – this one has no gymnastics with fingers.

2. Make a Knot with bullion knot twirls

If this twirling seems beyond you, try this very easy method

Thread your needle and bring the thread end to face the eye of the needle as in the picture below.

thread the needle through a loop made with the end of the thread

Twirl the thread over the needle two or three times.

Make twists around the needle like you would for bullion stitch

Ease the twirls or coils slowly down the thread and it will tighten as you go down.

ease the loops down the thread slowly

There you have your knot.

settle the knot at the end of the thread

3. Make locking stitch

This method does not make any knot but makes a tacking stitch -this is made the way a tailor’s tack stitch is made.

 

take one stitch on the fabric

Take up two or three threads with your needle; come again at the same place and take up two thread at the same place  – this time making a loop; do not tighten this loop- leave it as it is.

take another stitch to make a loop on the surface of the fabric
Take another stitch to make a loop on the surface of the fabric

Bring up the needle through this loop  – now tighten the thread.

INsert the needle through the loop

You will have made a secure stitch. Make one more to secure it more. Cut thread tail

Tighten the loop

4. Make loop knot stitch

This is another favourite for anchoring thread without a knot 

To make this stitch first fold your thread by the middle.

sewing knot - double the thread

Thread your needle with the thread tails – with the fold on one side – the thread tail is kept as a shorter side

thread the needle through the thread ends

Now take up the needle through the fabric

Make a small stitch

Without withdrawing the whole thread out, insert and bring up the needle through the fold of the thread

Insert the needle through the loop

Tighten – your thread is nicely anchored there. Carry on with your sewing or embroidery.

Tighten to form a knot

5. Make a double back stitch

If you dislike the knot on the backside of your work and want an easy way to secure the thread, just make double back stitches where you start. Learn how to do a back stitch here.

Related post: 10 different ways to tie knots ; 6 Knot stitches in embroidery ; Hand sewing Basics ; 9 Basic Hand stitches.

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  1. Methods 1 and 2 aren’t actual knots, though — they’re just tangled, rolled thread that could become untangled over time. Methods 3 and 5 also aren’t knots and could come undone if snagged or tugged. Method 4 seems sturdy, but it requires pulling 4 thicknesses of thread through each hole the needle makes in the fabric. I guess I’ll keep using the method of tying multiple double knots on top of each other until a large enough lump is formed that it can’t be pulled through the fabric.

    1. Methods 1 and 2 make knots for me. It’s a way of rolling the thread that knots it … I could replicate this by making a small circle of thread and making a second or third circle next to it and then threading the end through the loop several times then tightening to make a a knot. But with practice you can do the same knot as described in 1 this way.

      I have probably not made sense but for me it does make a knot.

      I am not sure how you define a knot but for me 3 is also a knot. It relies on the fact that you have gone through the same hole twice to fix it … and yes its maybe not a knot I would use on a load bearing join of fabrics but for a hem it is perfect. It works on the same principle as back stitching with a machine but rather than doing a few stitches back you do the one set and knot it through the fabric.

      I think perhaps its a matter of perspective and definition but different knots suit different purposes.

      1. They are bouillions and trust me they are very helpful in getting stiching done faster and they are generally very secure depending on what kind of stitch your using. If you are worried about unraveling backstitching a couple times works great as a backup especially as it doesn’t require a knot that sits up on fabric risking it to be jostled and pulled out. The only thing about method 3 which I use quite a lot is that it does tend to make the thread more prone to tangling together while working with it. It’s for this reason I’m looking for some alternatives

      2. Yes I say these are “knots”. I was taught #1 by my mom (who grew up sewing her own clothes and has sewed basically anything you can find in a house (and some pretty weird stuff for halloween costumes). I always thought she just sort of made that version up. Glad to know I’m not the only person who is making knots by tangling thread like my daughter tangles her hair.

        The only bad part about it is that occasionally you’ll pull down on the thread to make the knot and it doesn’t get tangled enough and slips out… which sort of negates the problem of the knot coming out unintentionally. That’s why you pull it down in a tangle, if it isn’t secure it will come undone then. If there is an inside part of a fold I combine it with a stitch that isn’t pulled through all the way and knot that loop to the working thread twice. That is often how I do most knots now. Kind of like backtacking and tying a knot in the working thread with the loop that isn’t pulled through all the way. You can do it with any stitch you are making.

        Usually I start off by making a stitch, then tying loose ends of thread to the working thread. Then at the end I don’t pull the last stitch all the way tight, leaving a loop big enough to just use that as one leg of a knot (I think my knot tying books call them “legs”!) that I tie to the working thread. Then I sometimes cut the loop and tie it twice just for good measure, then I clip the three remaining ends. This doesn’t work if you are closing an opening because then you have no access to the back at the end.. otherwise it has survived many children’s garments.