This is part four of a six-part series on the basics of creative surface embroidery, for beginners and those looking to refresh their hand embroidery skills and knowledge.
There are a few different ways to secure your thread at the start and end of a row or section of stitching, but ultimately it’s up to personal preference. These are the methods I use most often:
Start with a double stitch
If you use backing fabric, the easiest way to secure your thread at the start is with a double stitch through the backing fabric only, directly under the line or section you’re about to embroider.
Sewing Quarter shows you how in this quick video, although I usually skip the second stitch in their method:
Start with a knot
A lot of embroiderers prefer not to use knots as they can create bumps on the front of your fabric or come loose if not done properly. I use knots every now and then, usually if I’m going to be embroidering or filling an area with French or other embroidery knots, when the bump a starting knot might create won’t be visible on the front of the fabric. I use a quilter’s knot, which is small and neat, and stays knotted.
Amanda Lipscomb shows you in detail how to do a quilter’s knot:
End by weaving your thread away
When you’re done stitching, take your thread to the back of the fabric and weave your needle in and out under the last few stitches before cutting off the excess thread.
Kim Jamieson-Hirst of Chatterbox Quilts shows you how to weave away the end of your thread:
End by whipping your thread away
You can also whip the back of your stitching to secure your thread at the end of a row of stitching. This is done the same way you’d whip embroidery stitches.
Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread.com shows you how to do whipped back stitch – imagine you’re whipping the last few stitches on the back of your work:
Mary gives some other ways to start and end threads for hand embroidery here.
For more on starting and ending your thread, plus tips and techniques that make embroidery easier to do and allow you to enjoy stitching for longer stretches of time – that is, the nitty-gritty of ergonomics, light, visual aids, unpicking, dealing with knots and pricked fingers, tension and stitching techniques – see Embroidery Tips, Tricks & Techniques.
Read Part 5: Five basic embroidery stitches