In 5 Easy Steps, Learn How To Hand-Tie A Quilt Update 05/2022

Have you ever visited a small town antique store? What is one item that you can count on seeing in every antique store you visit? Hand-knitted quilt!

Quilt tying by hand was formerly a common method of quilting, but it appears to be a lost craft, especially in the current quilt age.

A knotted quilt is one of my favorite looks. The ties provide a quilt top a charming finish and a delightful 3D texture. Plus, once you’ve mastered the knots, it’ll be lot faster and easier than hand or machine quilting. To me, this sounds like a win-win situation!

What is the best thing to tie a quilt with?

I would recommend using wool yarn if you are going to knot a quilt that will be used and washed frequently. It’s pricier and more difficult to come by. The good thing with wool yard is that, unlike acrylic yarn, the knots tighten as the quilt is used and washed.

Acrylic is less expensive and easier to come by. If you’re making a wall hanging, pillows, a table runner, or anything else that won’t be used every day, this is a better, less expensive option.

The sole disadvantage using acrylic yarn is that the ties may come undone when the quilt is washed. So be prepared to make a fast inspection of your quilt and tighten any loosened ties. Don’t be concerned if one appears. You may just replace it with a new tie, and no one will notice.

When you think of a classic tied quilt, you probably think of a yarn-tied quilt. That’s how I usually see vintage quilts in antique stores or on the internet, but there are other options if you don’t want such a big knot.

Embroidery floss is popular among quilters for tying quilts. Using embroidery floss allows you to choose from virtually any color you can think of. You can also select the number of strands of floss to use for your knots. If you want a smaller, more delicate knot, use 2-3 strands instead of the entire six.

Perle cotton, ribbon, t-shirt “yarn,” and crochet thread are among other alternatives for tying.

Supplies You’ll Need to Tie a Quilt

  • Yarn (or other tying material) – for this example, I used acrylic yarn.
  • needle for needlework or tapestry (the bigger the eye, the better). I’m using a tapestry needle in size 20.
  • School glue (I used Elmer’s) Scissors
  • Thimble (optional)
  • Finished quilt top, batting, and backing fabric in a basted quilt sandwich.

How to Hand-Tie a Quilt

Step 1: Figure out where you will tie your knots.

Check the instructions for your batting to discover how far apart you should quilt. Use this as a starting point.

I tie a knot every 4 12″ for my example table centerpiece. You can use a ruler, eyeball the knot placement, or use a washable marking marker for this stage if you like.

You must also choose whether you want the knots on the front or back of the quilt.

Step 2: Thread your needle.

Measure from the centre of your collarbone to the tips of one of your fingers while cutting your yarn. That should give you a good working length (about a yard).

You don’t want the piece to be too lengthy, because pulling all that yarn through your quilt top will be tedious. However, you don’t want it to be so short that the yarn has to be replaced every 3-4 knots.

You’ll find your ideal length, but that measurement should serve as an excellent beginning point.

So here’s how I do it: take a teeny, little dab of Elmer’s school glue and rub it over one of your yarn ends. This will make the end flat and rigid, making it much easier to thread through the eye of your needle than attempting to thread it without assistance. If you like, you can use a needle threader.

Step 3: Time to stitch!

Start by putting your needle into the quilt top. The side where you first insert the needle will be the side where you finish the knot. Pull the tail through until it’s approximately 2″ long. Give yourself some extra length if you need more length for tying.

Insert the needle about 14″ away from where you originally brought it through the quilt from the back. Your first stitch is complete!

Rep the procedure, this time threading the needle through the top and then back up through the back, just near to your original stitch. If your knot comes undone, this will keep the stitch in place. Cut your yarn so that the tail is the same length as the first tail.


Step 4: Make your knot.

I’ll show you how to tie a square knot, often known as a “reef knot” or “Hercules knot.”

  • Place the right tail on top of the left tail first.
  • The right tail should then be pointed down and through the loop. (It’s similar to tying a shoelace.)
  • Now do the exact opposite of what you just did. So take the left tail and place it on top of the right tail.
  • Take the left tail and push it through the loop, pointing it down.
  • Tighten.

You’ve completed your square knot! Now cut the tails to the desired length. Normally, I leave a 12″ tail.

Step 5: Repeat the process.

Repeat the stitching and knotting processes until your quilt top is finished. Finish your quilt as desired, then relax and enjoy your lovely new vintage quilt!

Now you know how to hand tie a quilt!

This is a great technique to give any quilt top some texture and intrigue.

You could even use your sewing machine to perform the most of the quilting and then add a few knots here and there for added cuteness! I hope you found this tutorial useful. Let’s bring the hand-tied quilt back to life!

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