The end is near

So you’ve been stitching and are nearing the end of the thread. How to end off?

The fastest and easiest way is to just pull the thread to the front of the canvas, either in the stitching area or in the margin, and leave it. As you stitch the next stitches, you’ll stitch over the tail on the back and can clip the dangling thread on the front after the stitches are secured. I like this method because it’s quick, it’s easy, and won’t disturb the stitching on the front by weaving through the threads on the back.

If dangling threads give you the willies, an alternative to this is to take a pin stitch, placed so it will be covered by the stitches to come. This requires some thoughtful planning, but is not very difficult, secures the thread and leaves nothing hanging on the front of the canvas.

A secure method for ending threads under satin stitches is a Bargello tuck. Run the thread through the stitches on the back, being careful not to pull the stitches on the front, make a “tuck” over a couple of stitches, run through some more stitches on the back, make another “tuck”, and end off. You may have done something similar to this when you weave through threads on the back, change directions and weave through more threads. This is a very secure way to end the threads, but take care that you don’t pull so much on the back that the threads on the front shift.

A simple weave through the backs of the stitches also works, depending on what you have to weave in to. A waffle stitch doesn’t leave much on the back, or a row of herringbone, so you may want to consider a different way to end off your threads.

If you don’t have much on the back to weave in to, you can also consider whip stitches – take the thread to the back, and wrap the thread several times around the thread on the back, usually a single line.

So why worry about ending the thread? This is a question that comes up frequently when I’m teaching, so a little attention to ending is probably in order. I think trying to make the back as neat as possible is not a worthy goal, but making sure that what’s on the back doesn’t affect the front is. If your front is neat, chances are your back will be as well. Unless you are doing something where the back will be visible, just end your threads the best way you can and move on. If all else fails, a dab of fabric glue will hold recalcitrant threads in place (and I’ve done this, especially when the ends of Neon Rays just won’t stay down!).

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