Girl in Stitches

Being the occasional and rambling account of one young lady's adventures with fabric and a soldering iron

Saving Your Sewing

Or: How to Respond to the Drastic and Most Alarming Experience of Knots Where There Should Not be Knots





In the middle of some hand sewing my thread knotted at the back, so I took the knot out and kept sewing. But this isn’t always easy, and it’s not something I was taught to deal with. I worked this out myself, but really, I thought, people who are teaching themselves sewing ought to be told this basic skill. This is what the internet is for, damnit, the sharing of knowledge, the pooling of ideas.

I had a look online to see if there was online and didn’t find anything immediately. It took a few rewordings of a google search before I found anything that suggested what you should do:

How to untie a knot on a stitching thread

This should work, it’s strong advice, although it’s not exactly what I do.

If you are too busy panicking over your accidental knot and are still here rather than clicking that link, follow these steps:

  1. Do not panic. Do not pull on the thread: the consequence of tightening the knot too much is a problem which can only be solved with scissors.
  2. Is your thread chunky enough to loosen the knot with your fingernails or the blunt end of a needle? If not, let’s move on.
  3. Stick a pin or a needle through the loop.
  4. Make the loop bigger. Either put two pins in and pull them apart so the knot loosens with them, or if possible insert a fingertip in with your needle.
  5. The loop should get much larger, and the knot gets looser. When you can move the knot quite freely, reverse direction. Pull the thread (carefully) until the loop shrinks to nothing and the knot vanishes.

This may take patience and dexterity but there is usually no need to cut off a knot and start again.


If you can, avoid your thread knotting in the first place. Cheap threads often knot themselves much more, so save yourself the hassle and buy G├╝termann or Coats or something respectable and branded.

Claire Shaeffer, The Expert on high quality construction of clothes, suggests the direction of thread helps. Thread is wound in a way that means one cut end the fibres will point inwards, and at the other they will point outwards. In practice this really hard to see, but thread the end you get off the spool onto your needle, and the end you cut is the one you’ll anchor to your fabric when you begin to sew. I’ve seen contrary advice to this online and I don’t believe it: Claire Shaeffer knows everything.

If it’s worth it, wax your thread. You can get beeswax from sewing shops, or I got mine from a hardware shop (sold for furniture wax) slightly cheaper. Cut several threads, run them across the wax a few times and iron them well between sheets of greaseproof paper. It will not knot when you don’t want it to, and your hand sewing will have strength and permanence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on November 26, 2017 by in Thoughts and Rambles, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


%d bloggers like this: