How to Tie a Quilt: Quilting Finishing Technique

    by Gloria Hutson

    About the Author

    Gloria Hutson lives in Salem, Mo. She has been writing articles for various websites since 2009. She maintains two blogs that cover craft ideas and genealogical research. She holds a Master of Science degree in justice and security administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in history from Missouri University of Science and Technology.


    Tie quilting is the finishing technique of choice when fabric or batting is too heavy for hand or machine stitching. If the batting is too thick or the fabric is too stiff, tie the quilt together. Reduce the risk of shifting by using a high-loft batting or use a lightweight fabric such as flannel in place of batting. This finishing technique is suitable for pieced quilt tops or one-piece quilt tops. It also gives you the choice of using no batting at all. For instance, denim is heavy enough to use a lightweight fabric as the backing, without batting. Tie your quilt with colorful, durable thread, ribbon, embroidery floss or yarn.

    Things You'll Need

    • Quilt top
    • Quilt back
    • Quilt batting
    • Measuring tape
    • Basting pins
    • Large-eyed needle
    • Scissors
    • Thread

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    Place the batting between the top and bottom layers of fabric. Smooth out wrinkles and align the fabric edges.

    Position the quilt so the back of the quilt faces the work table’s surface and the top of the quilt faces upward.

    Pin the fabric layers together using the basting pins. Place the pins approximately 4 inches apart throughout the entire quilt.

    Thread the needle with six- to 12-strand embroidery floss or your tie of choice. Cut the strand approximately 18 inches long without knotting the end.

    Start at the center of one edge of the quilt, 2 inches in from the raw edge.

    Make a 1/4-inch stitch by inserting the needle through all the layers, from the top to the back and then back up to the top 1/4 inch from where you inserted the needle from the front to the back.

    Pull the embroidery floss through the layers. Leave a 3-inch tail at the first needle insertion.

    Make a row down the length of the quilt, using 1/4-inch stitches placed at 4-inch intervals. Place the last tie no closer than 2 inches to the opposite edge. This leaves an allowance for hemming the quilt. Position successive rows, at 4-inch equally spaced intervals over the surface of the quilt top.

    Tie the ends. Grasp the ends of the clipped threads between your fingers as if tying shoestrings. Place the left strand across the right strand. Wrap the left strand around the right strand twice. Pull it close to the fabric. Repeat this process once again, pulling the knot snug against the thread. Trim the threads to the same length on each tied know. Typically, the thread ends are left 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.

    • Using a needle threader will help if you have problems starting the thread through the needle eye.
    • Use a quilter’s leather thimble to protect the finger you use to push the needle through the fabric layers.