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Tips & Techniques > Avoiding Snarled Thread when Hand Sewing

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Posted by: Don McCunn

About Don McCunn star
Member since: 2/13/06
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Reviews: 5 (tips: 3)
Skill level:Advanced
Favored by: 2 people
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Posted on: 11/17/07 5:38 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 2 people   Very Helpful by 21 people   
Hi All,

I read a tip somewhere, maybe here, that if you hand sew with the thread going in the same direction it comes off the spool, it wouldn't get snarly. That applies of course to sewing with a single thread. I thought yeah sure. Well maybe I'll try it sometime.

Yesterday I was hand basting some plush back elastic to spandex and thread was seriously snarly. It became tangled numerous times. So I thought it's time to try this tip.

The problem in the past is that I usually pull the thread off the spool then thread the needle. By the time I've remembered to try this tip, I don't remember which end came first. So I figured the solution was to pay attention to the sequence. The sequence of steps you follow in most sewing processes is soooo important. So I paid attention.

Rather than cutting the thread first I followed these steps:

1. Unwind the amount of thread you need.
2. I then beeswaxed it. I don't always do this but I was desperate.
3. Thread the needle.
4. THEN cut the thread off the spool and immediately knot the end.

Not one snarl on the next line of hand basting. I am totally convinced this is the way to make your life so much easier. I hope you will find this technique as helpful as I did. What an amazing time saver. Not to mention waving good bye to the frustration of straightening out snarled thread.

Don McCunn

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Barbie22 said... (1/12/08 12:58 PM) Reply
This is a very common problem and a "keeper" remedy. Thank you!
salina said... (12/7/07 9:50 PM) Reply
i always have promble when am hand sewing so yes i will try this technique next time ...
OP Gal said... (11/30/07 3:18 PM) Reply
Great tip. I have the same problem--remembering which way I pulled it off the spool. I'll remember this one next time. Thanks.
Sherril Miller said... (11/24/07 12:40 PM) Reply
It also helps to put your thumb on top of the thread against your fabric as you pull it taught through the fabric.
SewVeryTall said... (11/18/07 11:04 AM) Reply
Now I'm surprised...the way I heard to do this, from a quilting show on TV, was [1] thread the needle and knot that end [2] cut the thread from the spool. The reason I'm surprised, is because it really seems to work, with or without the beeswax. When I use thread from a bobbin, I do it as you describe. I'll have to try it your way and see if there's a difference.
MarilynB said... (11/18/07 8:50 AM) Reply
I have ironed the thread after running it through the beeswax and it melts the wax so that no residue comes off on the fabric when handsewing. Actually, I prefer to iron the thread. I do this over a paper towel so that the wax does not go onto my ironing board.
ryan's mom said... (11/18/07 7:26 AM) Reply

ryan's mom said... (11/18/07 7:26 AM) Reply

ryan's mom said... (11/18/07 7:26 AM) Reply
I will try this! Maybe this is why I have problems with this 50% of the time. Hopefully now I'll have 100% better luck without the knotty issue.
petro said... (11/18/07 5:39 AM) Reply
good tip, my grandmother said a long thread has the devil in it _ ie don't try to save time by reducing the number of starts and finishes
aunt saidee said... (11/18/07 2:24 AM) Reply
I have also read that ironing the waxed thread helps, too. Haven't tried it, but keep thinking I will. Thanks for your simple, but very good ordering of steps. Sometimes it really does help so much to stop and assess what would improve a process, or increase the chances that I will use a technique.
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