How to Tie a Quilt March 08 2016 15 Comments

All Squared Up - Tie Quilt close up

There are three types of quilting:  machine quilting, hand quilting and hand tying.  This tutorial will focus on how to hand tie a quilt.

Hand tying is a quick and easy way to finish a quilt and to give a vintage look.  It is a good method when no batting is being used or when using extra thick batting that is difficult to quilt any other way.  The hand tying technique can be used on all quilt tops, pieced or whole cloth, and is good for beginners (or seasoned quilters who have way too many tops to quilt!). 

To hand tie a quilt, you will need:

  • Yarn, embroidery floss, Sashiko thread or Perle cotton 5 or 8 depending on the final look you would like to achieve
  • Any needle with a large eye and sharp point.  I like to use either a Chenille size 24 or a Sashiko needle
  • Marking pencil.  My favorite is the Sewline mechanical pencil
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Basting pins or basting spray
  • Thimble (optional)

Step 1: Baste your quilt with your preferred method.

    I chose to pin baste this particular quilt, but you could spray baste or machine baste as well.

     Tie Quilt - Basting

    Step 2: Determine placement for the ties and mark accordingly.

    Reference your batting packaging to find the optimum spacing for quilting, typically 4 inches to 10 inches apart. You can either place the ties at equal intervals (e.g. every 5 inches), use the existing quilt design to help guide placement of the ties or a combination of the two.

    I used a white Sewline mechanical pencil to mark an 'x' on the dark quilt top fabric where I wanted to make a tie.  The ceramic lead gives you clean lines that are easily removed with the attached eraser or a damp cloth.

    For this project (All Squared Up), I spaced the ties 6 inches apart using the pieced blocks as a guide.  

    Tie Quilt - Marking

    Step 3: Thread your needle.

    Now, thread your needle with approximately 20 to 24 inches of thread for tie quilting.  For this particular project, I used traditional Sashiko thread as I wanted did not want the sheen of embroidery floss or Perle cotton.   

     Tie Quilt - Threading Needle

    Step 4: Create the ties.

    Start tying in the center of the quilt and move out. This helps keep the layers from shifting during the tying process. 

    Insert needle through the three layers of the quilt on the spot marked 'x' and then back up approximately 1/4 inch from initial spot.  Leave a small tail roughly 3 - 4 inches.

    Repeat in the same spot to reinforce.  Cut thread leaving a 3-4 inch tail.

    Follow Step 4 for each spot marked 'x'.

     Tying a Quilt

    Step 5: Double knot all ties and trim as desired.

    Once I knotted each tie, I trimmed all of the tails to 2 inches.

    Tie Quilt - Trim

    But I didn't stop here!  To add additional visual interest to the quilt top, I decided to add big stitch, straight line quilting to the borders at a flower motif in the four corners.

    Big Stitch Quilting - Flower Motif

    The quilt top is now ready for binding!

    Just remember, hand tying a quilt is not as durable as fully quilted quilt so wash sparingly!

     All Squared Up - Tie Quilt

    I would love to hear from you … have you ever hand tied a quilt?