Tutorial: How to Tie a Quilt

| 21 Comments

So, here is the tutorial I promised about how to tie a quilt. It is actually quite simple and something even fairly young kids can help do. I had my 7 year old brother (ha ha, yup brother—-boys can do it too!) help me with this one, and he seemed to enjoy himself. So here goes. If you have any questions just leave me a comment and I’ll try to help!

  • Tools Needed:
  1. Quilting Needles. When you pick out needles to use, remember that you NEED the needles to have a sharp tip! Needles with blunt tips make quilting take for-ev-er and it can get pretty tiresome and frustrating. Also, make sure the eye of the needle is pretty big, if it’s too small you wont be able to get the yarn through. Been there, done that, wont do it again! (Tip: you can use smaller needles if you are quilting with embroidery thread instead of yarn.) I bought mine at good ol’ Walmart for a whopping .75¢.
  2. Yarn or Embroidery thread.
  3. Scissors. obviously.
  4. Thimble. I don’t personally use one of these, but some people like to know that their fingers are being protected from those big sharp mean needles.
  5. Balloon (or flat piece of rubber.) If you have a hard time pulling your needle through your quilt, using a balloon or even something like a rubber glove can be a real help! Just grip the needle with the balloon and it will pull through a lot easier!)
  6. A pattern to follow. With pieced quilts (like mine) it is easy to decide where to tie because the pattern is built in—but if you have a quilt top that does not have a well defined pattern you may need to mark one with a fabric pen. Just take a ruler and mark little dots where you want the ties to be, usually it is best to make them around 4-5 inches apart.

  • Step 1: Thread your needle so your yarn is doubled. You do not need to tie the end. Take your quilt and push the needle down leaving about a 1 1/2 – 2 inch tail. Then push your needle back up leaving about  a 1/4 – 1/2 inch space between where you went down and where you came up. (If you put your needle down and up too closely together your yarn could eventually pull through your quilt.) Also, make sure you pull your yarn completely through so you don’t have any ugly yarn loops on the bottom side of your quilt!

How to Tie a Quilt Step 1

How to Tie a Quilt Step 2

  • Step 3: Take your yarn and send it back down through your quilt. And then of course, bring it up again, and what you will have is a “straight line” of yarn

How to tie a quilt step 3

  • Step 4: Now, take your yarn and make a loop with it (or a little rainbow =) that crosses over your “straight line” of yarn, then take your yarn under the straight yarn and pull it through your loop. Pull tight so you have a knot.

How to tie a quilt step 4

  • Step 5: Now, repeat step 4, but do it on the opposite side of your straight yarn. Pull tight.

How to tie a quilt step 5

  • Step 6: Repeat steps 3-5 until you run out of yarn. Then re-thread your needle and repeat starting with steps 1 and 2 until you are done with your quilt. Always make sure you keep checking to make sure you don’t have any big yarn loops on the underside of your quilt!
  • Step 7: Cut your yarn so you have cute little tails all over your quilt. (You usually want them about 1 1/2- 2 inches long ish =)

What did I tell you! Easy Easy Easy! Have fun!

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21 Comments

  1. thanks SO much for this! great pics and instructions :)
    this will make it easier for me to try something i’ve always wanted to try but avoided because i didn’t want to mess it up!

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    YAY! I’m glad you found this post helpful! If you have any questions just let me know! And good luck with tying a quilt!

    [Reply]

  2. I am a beginning quilter. My quilt has 8-inch blocks with 9-patch (3X3) blocks inside each large block. I only have 2 ties per large block in the middle of opposite small squares, so my ties are about 6-7 inches apart. Do I need to add a tie in the centers of each of the small corner blocks so that each large block has 4 ties?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Joann

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    You know it’s hard to say for sure without seeing your quilt, but I would almost guarantee you are fine with what you have done. The point of the ties is to keep your quilt together, to keep your batting in place and keep it all connected nicely to your back. I think a good way for you to judge is by how much use you think your quilt will get. If you are going to be washing it a lot, or a little kid is going to carry it around with him/her 24/7 you might want to make the ties closer, just to make it a bit more durable. The only reference I really have is when I have tied quilts for humanitarian aid, they ask us to not tie them any further apart than 3-4″ -but keep in mind these quilts will get heavy use and will probably be washed in rivers…and the definitely don’t want them falling apart. Anyhow, don’t know if that helped…but it should give you some guidelines on how to make a good decision!

    [Reply]

  3. Do you need one of those contraptions that keeps the quilt spread out and taut? (like I’ve seen at bridal showers in the past?) I live in a REALLY small place, so I was wondering if I could tie a full-sized quilt in here, or if that is only if you have a big space??

    [Reply]

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial! I have always wanted to do an old style quilt like this, maybe my next lap quilt!
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  5. Thanks SO much for this! I’m so glad I stumbled on this post this morning. I’ve got a gorgeous log cabin quilt top I’ve been dreading quilting – but I think I’m going to tie it and voila… Mom’s taken care of for Christmas. Thanks for saving me $200 on paying someone to quilt!! :D
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  6. Hi Anne,
    I’m Jessica, and I’m an editor for the new quilting website, FaveQuilts.com. You may be familiar with some of our sister sites, FaveCrafts and AllFreeSewing. I have just begun building a database of quilting patterns and tutorials, and this hand tying tutorial was one of the first projects I linked to. You can see the project link on FaveQuilts here (but know that the site is still under construction!):

    http://www.favequilts.com/Quilting-by-Hand/How-to-Tie-a-Quilt

    I really liked your blog, and I would like to include more of your tutorials on FaveQuilts. Do we have permission to post full projects and tutorials from your site on FaveQuilts? Also, once FaveQuilts is fully launched later this summer, we plan to send out a free e-mail newsletter featuring links to projects on FaveQuilts and accompanying pictures. Please let us know if we have permission to feature your projects and photos in newsletters. You will of course receive credit for all projects and photos. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks,
    Jessica

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Anne
    I am working on my first quilt ever and this is exactly what I want to do, as I had one like this when I was little, and am so excited I found your post! My question however is what happens to the edges of the quilt? Do i just sew a seam after I am finished tying the quilt in all the places I like? Thanks for your time!

    [Reply]

  8. I seen your tutorial on Fave Quilts, I loved it!!! I am not going to remember how to do it, is there anyway to print this out. That is the bad thing on Fave Quilts, you get to learn something, but unable to print it out. Hope you can help, as I have not learned how to FMQ yet, but tying is one thing I would like to learn how. Its makes a quilt look old fashioned & cute. Hope you can find a way for me to print this out.
    Thank you again for your tute, I look forward to many more

    [Reply]

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  11. I have never quilted before but want to learn to hand piece and tie a quilt. I was a little confused about the “straight line”. Will you have straight lines all over your quilt then cut those to make the little tails. Can you not just pull through and tie knots ever 4-5 inches?

    [Reply]

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  13. I have a problem making a square knot. Were steps 4 and 5 the procedure to make that knot?

    [Reply]

  14. I’m making a crib blanket for a baby with 3 inch cotton squares. Is it safe to use yarn with tying it together for a baby? Or would crochet yarn be safer? I don’t quilt but I’ve tied many quilts for adults. Just don’t want the baby, as it gets older, pulling out the knots and trying to eat them! Thanks!

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