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How to Securely Tie Off Hand Sewing Stitches: Steps and Tips (2024)

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how to end when sewingYou’re nearing the end of that sewing project and need a secure finishing stitch.

Try looping through an existing stitch or backstitching for a tight hold. Or hide knotted ends on the wrong side.

With the right technique, your stitches will withstand wear without coming undone.

Follow these tips to tie off hand sewing properly so your creations endure:

  • Loop through an existing stitch or backstitch for a tight hold.
  • Hide knotted ends on the wrong side.

Key Takeaways

  • Shorten stitch length at the end to interlock stitches and prevent unraveling
  • Backstitch over previous stitches then sew forward again to reinforce
  • Leave a 6 inch thread tail, loop under previous stitch to tie off by hand
  • Trim threads close to fabric after securing stitches

Selecting Hand Sewing Needles

Selecting Hand Sewing Needles
You’ll need to choose the right needle for your project based on the fabric weight and type of thread.

Needle sizes range from 1 to 12, with lower numbers used for heavier fabrics.

Refer to a hand sewing needle guide to determine the ideal needle for your materials.

Needle Sizes

Before selecting a hand sewing needle, start by considering needle sizes.

Common sizes range from 1 to 12, with lower numbers indicating larger needles meant for coarse fabrics like denim or canvas.

Pick mid-range sizes like 5-9 for all-purpose sewing on medium-weight cottons and linens.

Always match needle size to thread thickness for optimal stitch formation.

Using the right needle improves durability, security, and neatness of your hand sewing.

Needle Types

Your choice of needle type depends on the fabric and thread you’re using.

For lightweight fabric, select a sharp needle like an embroidery or milliners needle.

Heavier fabrics like denim require a stronger needle, such as a jeans or leather needle, to pierce through.

Match the needle size to the thread – thicker thread needs a larger eye so it can pass through smoothly.

Choose the right needles for hand sewing success.

Choosing Hand Sewing Thread

Choosing Hand Sewing Thread
When choosing hand sewing thread, focus on the thread weight and material.

Polyester and cotton threads in heavier weights are best for most hand sewing projects.

Match the thread weight to the fabric weight for optimal stitch durability.

Thread Weight

You must select thread weight based on the fabric weight and stitch type.

For lightweight fabric, use a fine thread between 60-100 weight.

For medium-weight fabric, an all-purpose 50-60 thread works well.

When sewing heavyweight fabric or doing a sturdy stitch like backstitching, opt for a heavier 30-50 weight thread.

Match thread weight to needle size too – thin with fine needles, thick with larger needles.

This prevents skipped stitches, fraying, and enhances stitch durability.

When unsure, pick an all-purpose thread as a safe bet for most hand sewing.

Thread Material

Hand sewing thread is typically made from cotton or polyester.

Cotton provides a soft, matte finish while polyester offers more strength.

When selecting, consider the fabric weight and desired look.

Fine fabrics may call for lightweight cotton threads while heavier fabrics can handle stronger polyester.

Match the thread material to the needle size for smooth sewing.

For most hand sewing projects, all-purpose polyester or cotton threads in the 30 to 50 weight range are suitable.

Tying Off Stitches by Hand

Tying Off Stitches by Hand
Tying off stitches by hand provides durability for your sewing projects.

When finishing a row of hand sewing, leave at least a six inch thread tail on your needle.

Turn the material inside out.

Loop the thread tail under the previous stitch and pull through to make a knot.

Make another knot by looping through the same hole.

Start sewing by knotting and then bury the thread between the fabric layers.

When selecting your hand sewing thread and needle, ensure they can handle the fabric weight for optimal knot and stitch security.

Allow extra time to practice tying off techniques on scrap material.

Experiment with different knotting methods like backstitches or hiding knots inside the fabric itself.

Consistently tying off will help complete hand sewing projects and prevent frustrating loose stitches.

Loop Through Existing Stitch Method

Loop Through Existing Stitch Method
Once your stitches are complete, it’s time to tie them off securely.

This is when the loop through existing stitch method comes in handy.

To utilize this easy yet effective technique, start by sliding your needle under the nearest stitch and pulling the thread all the way through to form a sizeable loop.

Next, take the needle and guide it through that loop you just created.

As you pull the thread taut, visualize a strong knot forming right before your eyes.

Repeat passing the needle through that very same stitch if desiring additional strength and permanence.

With a bit of practice, you’ll be tying off hand sewn stitches with seamless perfection in no time.

This clever maneuver truly helps lock each stitch down, promotes longevity of the seam, and keeps connective threading neatly concealed.

Mastering the art of clean knot concealment brings hand sewing projects to flawless fruition.

Backstitch Tying Off Method

Backstitch Tying Off Method
When tying off stitches, you can use the backstitch method for a secure finish.

To backstitch, insert the needle back through the last stitch and bring it up behind the thread’s exit point.

Pull the thread all the way through and snip it right next to the fabric to lock your stitching in place.

Single Backstitch

After looping your thread through an existing stitch, secure it with a backstitch by reinserting your needle back through where the prior stitch ended and bringing it up behind your thread.

This locking stitch prevents unraveling by:

  1. Anchoring the thread in place.
  2. Creating tension to hold layers together.
  3. Providing reinforcement.

Backstitch With a Loop

You can also create a loop when backstitching to tie off hand sewing stitches.

After completing your stitching, pass the needle through the last stitch again but don’t pull the thread all the way through.

Then, pass the needle back through this loop and gently tighten it before cutting the thread.

This extra loop adds security and visual neatness when ending your hand sewing.

Hiding the Knot Method

Hiding the Knot Method
Coming from the backstitch tying off method, here is how to use the hiding the knot method to securely finish your hand sewing:

Wrap the thread twice counterclockwise around the needle while holding it in one hand and the thread close to the fabric in the other.

Then insert the needle point near the last stitch and bring it up through the top layer.

Next, pull the needle so the wraps form tight loops right against the fabric hole.

Finally, tug firmly on the thread so the knot pops through to the batting side, concealing it.

This advanced technique takes practice but allows for clean knot concealment across all fabrics including felt, ensuring secure stitch finishing every time.

Ending Stitches by Machine

Ending Stitches by Machine
When using a sewing machine, you’ll want to secure your stitches before cutting the thread.

Make your final stitches especially tight by:

  • Shortening the stitch length
  • Backstitching 3-5 times at the end

Trim the thread close to the fabric after lifting the presser foot to prevent unraveling.

Adjust Stitch Length

Shorten your stitch length when finishing stitches by machine to make them less likely to unravel.

As you near the end of your seam, dial back the stitch length control to its lowest setting.

This will produce tighter, smaller stitches that interlock well and resist fraying when the threads are eventually trimmed.

Take care not to over-shorten on delicate fabrics, however, since too much tension could damage them.

Simply find the right balance for your fabric.


When finishing your stitches by machine, you’ll want to backstitch a few times before cutting the thread to secure the stitches and prevent unraveling.

  1. Engage reverse sewing 3-5 stitches
  2. Stitch forward over locked stitches
  3. Lift presser foot and remove fabric

To precisely finish machine sewing, first backstitch over previous stitches, then sew forward again to reinforce.

Selecting compatible needle and thread is key for creative projects with precise hand-sewn details.

Troubleshooting Tips

Troubleshooting Tips
Are you struggling with loose stitches that easily come undone or difficulty pulling your thread through the fabric?

These common issues can often be remedied by adjusting your technique:

  • Backstitch a few times before ending your stitches.
  • Use a thimble if the thread is difficult to pull.
  • Consider shortening your stitch length to add stability.

Let’s discuss some troubleshooting tips to help you tie off your hand sewing securely.

Loose Stitches

If your stitches come apart easily, shorten them by adjusting the stitch length on your sewing machine.

Use a tighter stitch length so there’s less space between stitches for them to unravel.

You can also check that your thread tension is properly balanced so the threads interlock in the middle of the fabric layers.

Refine your technique for starting and ending seams – tie knots tightly or hide thread ends inside felt for a tidy finish.

Practicing on scrap fabric helps develop mastery for flawless stitching.

Difficulty Pulling Thread

You’re struggling to pull the thread through.

If using a thimble protects your fingertips, here are 4 tips for dealing with difficult-to-pull thread:

  1. Check your machine’s thread tension setting.
  2. Try a thimble to protect fingertips when pulling.
  3. Make smaller, tighter knots at the end of the thread.
  4. Use compatible thread weight for your fabric density.

Testing Secure Stitches

Testing Secure Stitches
Examination of stitch durability allows you to ensure your tying off techniques result in seams that won’t unravel.

After finishing your stitches, gently pull on the fabric on either side of the seam to test knot security.

If stitches come loose, reconsider factors like knot size, thimble use for tight knots, fabric weight relative to thread selection, and stitch length.

For lightweight fabrics, opt for thinner thread and shortened stitch length to minimize visibility.

Heavier fabrics can withstand thicker thread and longer stitch length.

Test again, tugging firmly without ripping seams.

Properly tied off stitches should remain intact despite applied tension.

If satisfied with durability, your project is ready for use or display.

Hand Sewing Projects

Hand Sewing Projects
You will want to ensure your hand sewing projects like ladder stitches and running stitches are securely tied off. Otherwise, these utilitarian stitches can easily come undone, compromising your sewing work.

Let’s talk about some ways to tie off hand sewing threads so your seams and projects maintain structural integrity:

Ladder Stitch

One handy project you’re able to easily learn involves the ladder stitch, which seamlessly joins two pieces of fabric.

Utilizing this stitching technique allows you to invisibly join fabrics together, creating seamless connections for secure hemming or fusing separate fabric pieces.

With some practice, you’ll adeptly utilize this handy stitch to assemble quilts, clothing, crafts, and more with durable yet invisible joins.

Running Stitch

From ladder stitching fabrics together invisibly, you’re ready to make a simple running stitch to baste or gather fabrics.

This basic stitch has three main stitch variations: even, uneven, and Holbein.

Decorative options include spaced running stitches or using specialty threads.

You’ll need a sharp needle and all-purpose thread.

It’s a fast way to temporarily join two pieces of fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I tie off embroidery floss when hand embroiderying?

Keep it simple.

Snip your floss, leaving a 4-inch tail.

Thread the needle under previous stitches and back out.

Wrap the floss tail twice around the needle, then reinsert it close by.

Pull firmly so the knot slides inside between layers.

Trim excess and admire your handiwork.

What is the best way to tie off yarn when finishing a knitting project?

Simply tie a loose overhand knot close to your work.

Pass yarn tail through loop, pull tight.

Clip excess yarn near knot.

This secure finish keeps stitches from unraveling, completing your knitted project beautifully.

My sewing machine thread keeps shredding at the end – what am I doing wrong?

You’re likely pulling too tightly when finishing stitches.

Gently guide fabric under the presser foot and ease up on tension as you approach the end.

Leave ample thread tails before cutting.

Finally, avoid abrupt speed changes so the thread exits smoothly without shredding.

I can never get my hand-sewn blind stitches tight enough – any tips?

Carefully tug the thread after each stitch to draw the fabric edges together.

Use a thinner needle which makes smaller holes.

Make sure your stitches go through just a sliver of fabric on the fold rather than too much.

With practice, you’ll develop a feel for the right tension to keep the seam crisp.

How can I reinforce machine seams after sewing for extra strength?

  • Backstitch your seam a couple times at the start and end.
  • Also, topstitch to reinforce it.
  • Sewing a line further in from your seam will reinforce it even more – just remember to use smaller stitch lengths for durability.


As the saying goes, A stitch in time saves nine.

When ending your hand sewing, be sure to tie off stitches securely using one of the methods described.

Backstitching, looping through prior stitches, or hiding knotted ends will prevent unraveling.

Test your finished work by gently pulling – if the stitches hold fast, you’ve tied them off properly.

Follow these tips each time you sew by hand, and your creations will withstand wear for years to come.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.