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If you’ve used a sewing machine before you’re probably familiar with the backstitch function on your machine. Backstitching is when you reverse over your stitches to help lock them into place.
This stitch can be an important part of sewing because it helps secure your stitches in place. This prevents your project from unraveling.
But do you need to backstitch when quilting?
Backstitching is not necessary when piecing a quilt. Each piece of fabric is sewn together in a way that “locks” the stitches in, so you don’t need to worry about your quilt unraveling. A backstitch isn’t necessary when you are quilting your quilt either. You can start quilting off of the quilt top or bury your threads for a seamless look. Keep reading to learn when a backstitch is useful when quilting!
There are two steps of making a quilt where you might have thought a backstitch is necessary. Let’s go over both steps and why a backstitch isn’t needed.
How to Piece a Quilt without Backstitching
The first part of making a quilt is piecing together the fabric. This means that you are sewing each piece of fabric together to create your quilt design. As long as you start your stitch off of the fabric and stitch all the way through the other side of the fabric, you won’t need to worry about your stitches unraveling. This is because each piece will be sewn to the piece next to it with a ¼” seam. These ¼” seams lock the stitching into place to help create a sturdy and well-made quilt!
How to Quilt a Quilt without Backstitching
The next part of making a quilt where backstitching often comes into question is when you’re quilting the quilt top. Quilting is when you stitch three layers of a quilt together (top, batting, and backing) in a decorative pattern.
There are two ways to approach quilting your quilt without needing to do a backstitch. The first way is to start quilting off of the quilt top. If you start your quilting lines on the batting, rather than the quilt top, your stitches will run off the quilt and stay locked after you bind your quilt.
But it’s not always possible to start and stop your stitch line off of the quilt top. Your pattern may warrant a change of thread color or your bobbin may run out in the middle of your quilt top. So what should you do in this case? There is nothing in the middle of your quilt that will “lock” your stitches into place. Or is there?
Burying threads is when you create an invisible start or stop in your quilting thread. This technique helps you tie off your threads without disrupting the look of your quilting stitches. Burying your threads is the best way to keep your stitches in place when you need to start or stop stitching in the middle of your quilt top.
Here’s a quick tutorial to teach you how to bury your threads!
How to Tie Off Thread Tails When Quilting
Step 1: Cut your thread with a generous amount of tail leftover.
Step 2: Pull the bottom thread to the top of the quilt. If you tug on the top thread, the bottom thread should start to pull through so you can easily pull it to the top of the quilt.
Step 3: Tie a double (or triple) knot in your thread. The goal of this knot is to help keep the thread tails inside the quilt sandwich after we bury them.
Step 4: Thread your needle with the tails of your thread.
Step 5: Sew your needle into the middle layer of your quilt. Turn your quilt over to double-check that you have not pierced through the back of your quilt.
Step 6: Sew into the quilt and come back up a few inches away from where you initially stitched into the quilt.
Step 7: Pull your thread through the quilt top.
Step 8: Trim your thread as closely to the quilt top as you can. If any thread still pokes out, shift the fabric around until the thread tails disappear into the middle of your quilt.
Now you’ll have a clean end to your stitch without needing to do a backstitch to lock things into place. The knot you made effectively acts as the backstitch. This is a common method among quilters who hand quilt, quilt on their domestic machines, and quilters who use longarm quilting machines.
Using a Backstitch When Binding a Quilt
There is one step of quilt making when a backstitch is needed. This step is called binding. Quilt binding is the piece of fabric that wraps around the raw edges of the quilt. Binding is the final step of making a quilt and it ensures that everything is neatly finished. It also helps secure the stitches on the outside border of your quilt.
Because binding plays a crucial role in your quilt, you definitely don’t want your stitches to unravel. This is the one step where many quilters find backstitching to be useful. Backstitching is used at the beginning and end of the fabric, as well as on each corner of the quilt.
All in all, if you’re quilting, there’s no need to use a backstitch when making your quilt top and quilting your quilt. It’s one less thing to worry about and as long as you’re assembling your quilt with ¼” seams and burying your threads, you’ll have a perfectly sturdy quilt! However, it is common to use a backstitch when attaching binding to your quilt to ensure a secure finish.
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