How to Hand Tie A Quilt

Looking for a quick and easy way to finish a quilt or comforter? Try tying!

When the quilt top is finished and you assemble the layers together, there are several methods to attach the layers together -  hand quilting, machine quilting and tying. 

Quilt tying, or tufting, is the easy method of joining the three layers of a quilt with short lengths of tied yarn, floss or thread to secure everything together.

Hand Tying a Quilt


Tying a quilt by hand was a popular way of quilting years ago, but it seems to have lost its appeal with the modern-day quilt era of machine quilting and long-arm quilting.

Less elegant than rows of fine quilting, a hand tied quilt, nevertheless, is a time-honored old farmhouse style way of holding quilt layers together.  The knots can be tied on the front of the quilt or on the back of the quilt, constructed to blend in or stand out as a decorative feature.

Tying quilts is the most beginner-friendly way of finishing a quilt for a new quilter.  Very little skill is needed to tie a quilt; if you can tie a knot, you can tie a quilt.

If you're not a new quilter, incorporating quilt ties along with machine quilting is a fun way to add texture and interest to a quilt top or just a fast way to finish a WIP (work in progress) that has been sitting around in your sewing room. 

Watch this video or read on to learn how to hand tie a quilt. 

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link How to Hand Tie A Quilt to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

how to hand tie a quilt

Why Tie a Quilt?

  • You're in a rush and need the quilt finished quickly
  • Suitable for high-loft quilts and comforters that are hard to compress under the standard sewing machine's pressure foot
  • For quilts with heavy materials which makes hand or machine quilting difficult or impractical
  • For the overall aesthetic, tying gives it a different finish than machine quilting
  • Tying can incorporate buttons and beads
  • To create a nostalgic feel 

What is the best thing to use to tie a quilt?

  • Embroidery Floss
  • Pearl Cotton Thread
  • Crochet Cotton Thread
  • Yarn

What Supplies will you need to tie a quilt?

  •  Basted Quilt
  • Tying Medium - yarn, embroidery floss, pearl cotton, etc.
  • Pencil or Disappearing Marking Pencil (optional)
  • Sharp Embroidery or Tapestry Needle 
  • Scissor
  • Rubber thumb tip or thimble (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS on how to tie a quilt with knots

Step 1: decide quilt tie placement

Before even threading the needle, the first step is to decide where to place the ties. 

How far apart should quilt ties be?

The first thing to do is to check the batting package to see how far apart the manufacturer recommends you quilt.  This will be the maximum distance.  

A quilt can be tied in several ways.

  • By marking with a ruler and marking tool across and down the top every so many inches and tying at the marks
  • Use the design on the quilt top to determine where the ties should be placed
  • Create a random tying pattern

Whichever method is used, for best results, place the ties no more than 6" apart.

STEP 2:  Thread The Needle

You need a sharp point needle with a large enough eye for the tying medium.  

Tying a Quilt -Tie a Quilt Thread Needle

Using a long sharp needle, thread it with a 20" long piece of thread, floss, yarn or other tying material. You can use a needle threader to help get your yarn through the eye of your needle or watch this quick tip video on a super simple way to thread a needle.

By using a 20" long length of thread,  you don’t need to constantly re-thread your needle and you won't get knots in the thread as you stitch.

STEP 3: quilt tying - The First Stitch

On the quilt top at the point where you want a tie,  poke the needle straight down through all three quilt layers and come up to the surface very close to the point of entry - about 1/4" away creating a single running stitch.

How to Tie a Quilt - Tie a Quilt First Stitch

You can either push the needle all the way through the quilt top to the back and then reinsert the needle through the back of the quilt to the top.


You can use the stabbing method by inserting the needle through to the back and bringing it back through to the front again in one motion.

For this tutorial, I used the stabbing method.

Hand Tie a Quilt - Tie a Quilt First Stitch TailPull the thread gently through the layers leaving a 2 to 3-inch tail.

You've created the first stitch.

If you have trouble pulling the tying medium through the layers, a rubber thumb tip or thimble may help.

STEP 4: quilt tying - second stitch

Make the second stitch in exactly the same place in the same way for strength - reinserting the needle through the same holes by creating a single backstitch.

Tie a Quilt second stitch

Some quilters make the second stitch right next to the first.  In quilting, there's no right or wrong way to do some procedures.  It's a personal preference.  So backstitch in the same holes or stitch right next to them, you choose.

Tie a Quilt pull tight

STEP 5:  Make Knots

Make a triple knot to ensure that the tie will not unravel and come out during use and laundering. 

First, tie a square knot.  With the yarn, do right yarn over left and make a tie.

Tie a Quilt Tie once

Next, do left over right and tie.

Tie a Quilt tie twice

and then one extra knot (right over left).

Tie a Quilt tie third time

We have a Square Knot Tutorial Here.

STEP 6: Trim the Tails

Finally, after tying the knots, hold both tails together and trim the tails to one-half inch to one inch long.

Tie a Quilt trim tails

Step 7: Continue stitching and knotting

Repeat the stitching and knotting steps at the chosen points either marked or determined all over the quilt top until it is completed.

Tying a quilt is a simple and quick way of finishing a quilt.  Try it the next time you need to get a quilt finished fast, or your quilt has high-loft batting that won't fit under sewing machine pressure foot or the quilt has heavy needle-resistant fabric that would be hard to quilt by hand or machine with regular quilting stitches.

Time to Try it Out!

More quilt tutorials you may also like....


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How to Tie a Quilt - pin

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