Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Start, Stop and Tie-off When Machine Quilting Tutorial

Well, I'll admit it, I'm having Free Motion Friday withdrawal. So until some of the linky parties start-up next year, I plan on continuing quilting on Fridays. The other day, I went to a Intro to Machine Quilting Class and the very best thing I learned was how to start, stop and tie-off (what to do with the thread tails). This really helped eliminate the not so lovely "birds nest"/thread blobs on the bottom of my quilt.  Here's a little tutorial on what I learned. {This works with a walking foot or free motion foot.}

Hold the upper thread.

Either use the "needle up/down button" (on my machine it the one to the left of the scissor button) or use the hand wheel to move your needle to the down position while holding the thread.

Needle down, holding thread with the walking foot.

Needle down, holding thread with the FM foot.

Bring the needle up by using the needle up/down button or hand wheel. (do NOT stitch).  See the bobbin thread is now on top.

The top thread is NOT in the quilt at this point.
Tuck the thread tails behind, under the walking foot.
Do the same thing with the FM foot, tuck the thread tails.

If you are using a walking foot, turn the stitch length very low. Here I have mine set at 0.4 mm. (Regular stitch length on my machine is 2.5 mm) Stitch 5 to 6 stitches at the beginning and end with the tiny stitch, DON'T forget to turn it to 2.5 to 3.0mm during the quilting process.

It's very hard to see that the beginning and ending have the tiny stitches that lock the thread from coming undone.

If you want to be VERY PROFESSIONAL, you can thread a hand needle with the thread tails and bury them into the middle of the quilt sandwich.

Voila! Very professional finish.

Of course you can just clip the threads really close, if your quilt isn't going into a show.

To lock/tack your stitches with a free motion foot, SLIGHTLY move your quilt for 5 or 6 stitches (just enough that the needle is not going back through the same hole). Then I clip my threads right away, so I don't stitch over them.

The back, no birds nests thread mess! Yahoo!
I hope my little tutorial was of some help. I know it's not the glamorous side of quilting, but it does help give your quilting a nicer finish.

P.S. The practice feather (in the picture above) is from a book called Hooked on Feathers. I will share more tomorrow.

Color Me Quilty!



  1. Great information! And the pictures really help to visualize what you were saying.

  2. very clearly put!Thank you. And I like your feather!

  3. That's a great tutorial! I usually get a huge tangle on the bottom which is a big problem sometimes. Thanks!

  4. Oh cool! I am going to have to try this. I have birds nests all over my quilts! :) great tutorial! Thanks!

  5. This was really helpful!! Thank you, you've saved me a lot of bother!

  6. Thanks. I can get rid of my birds nests now. Great info.

  7. Sometimes the less glamorous stuff is the most important! Great tutorial, Pat!

  8. Great tutorial Pat!! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Cheers

  9. Thanks for the great tutorial! It impressed me so much that I even dreamt about it last night No kiddin!

  10. Thank you! That's such a clear description. I must get into a habit of drawing the thread up like that :)