Quilting Basics: How to Hand Tie a Quilt

Learning how to hand tie a quilt is a skill every quilter should learn. Even though I don’t often use this quilting technique, it’s handy to have in the technique toolbox–especially for finishing small handmade quilts in a pinch.

Oftentimes quilters will shy away from tying a quilt because it doesn’t wash as well as hand or machine quilting. It’s a good rule of thumb to tie quilts that are intended as decoration, such as a wall quilt, because they will be washed less often.

If you have your heart set on tying that table runner or lap quilt you’re making, it’s still possible!

For handmade quilts big and small that require frequent washing, try combining a few techniques. If you want your machine quilting to be subtle, try stitching in the ditch and then adding your ties. And if you want to turn up the texture, combine ties with bold hand stitching.


Close up of “Graph.” Deborah tied every four-way corner with contrasting embroidery floss.

Now that we’ve talked over a few ideas about when to integrate ties into your quilts, let’s talk about the how.

In her book Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give, Deborah Fisher shares these helpful hints to teach us how to hand tie a quilt:

Tying is another way to add texture and color to your quilt and can be used exclusively in a quilt or with other techniques.

Use embroidery floss to tie the three quilt layers together every few inches within the quilt. While a tied quilt is not quite as sturdy as a quilt with lots of machine stitching, tying is also simpler and quicker than other quilting techniques, and no less valid. Simply make double knots throughout your quilt to hold it together.


A bundle of quilts by Deborah.

1. Take a stitch into the quilt and then back up again, making a stitch length of about 3/16″ on the back.

2. Leave a tail of a few inches.

3. Knot the two ends together and trim to about 1/2″.

Now that you’ve learned how to tie a quilt, try it on your next project!

And if you’re still looking for great gifts to give for every occasion, check out Deborah’s book Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give. Or get started today when you download the eBook instantly.

Happy quiltmaking and giving!

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