How to Start the Thread

And now for a strong suggestion--do not knot the thread. An exception might be made for a special case, such as an isolated stitch with no other stitches near it in the design.

  • Knots can create lumps and bumps on the front when the picture is mounted.
  • Floss can catch on knots while you are stitching.
  • Knots can lead to uneven thread tension and distorted fabric.
  • Knots can pop through to the front on a loosely woven fabric.
  • Knots are harder to undo if you make a mistake.
  • Knots make the back look messy. A good general rule is that a neat back means a better looking front.

So, what is it you should do? There are several methods listed below. Many people use more than one, depending on the circumstances.

Running Under

Run the thread under four or five of the stitches on the back, if they are right next to where you want to start. You may choose to whip stitch around the second or third stitch as you are running under. This helps to lock the thread in.

Sometimes dark colours show through when woven under lighter colours. Check to make sure this isn't happening.

A variation--if you stitch in a manner that leaves vertical lines on the back, try whip stitching or weaving the thread up (or down) a few of these vertical stitches. This technique makes for a very neat looking back.

Loop Method

The loop method only works for even numbers of strands.

For two strands, start with one long strand about 36"-40" long. Fold it in half. Thread the needle so the two ends are near the needle and the "loop" is the end farthest from the needle. Start the stitch with the loop end dangling a little bit below the cloth. When the needle comes back down to the underside, run it between the loop and the cloth, and gently pull the loop tight.

Knotless Waste Knot

Start the thread from the top side, an inch or two from where you want to begin stitching. Leave a tail of thread on the top side. Careful placement of the tail before you start will cause the tail on the back to be covered as you stitch. When you have completed some stitches, pull the tail to the back side. Run it under the new stitches if necessary.

Waste Knot

This is similar to the knotless waste knot described above. One difference is that the tail on the front is knotted, to act as an anchor. Start the thread from the top side. Careful placement of the knot will cause the tail on the back to be covered as you stitch. The remaining tail on the back is run under the new stitches if necessary.

Away Waste Knot

This is similar to the waste knot described above. The tail on the front is knotted, to act as an anchor. Start the thread from the top side. It should be placed out of the way so the tail does not get covered while you stitch. At a later time, the knot on the front is cut away and the remaining tail on the back is run under existing stitches. An away waste knot gives you much more control over the tension and the way the first and last stitches appear from the front.

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