Invisible Stops and Starts Part I: If you are quilting for show, this is a critical skill to master. It is one of the criteria that judges use to separate the wheat from the chaff. You will want to avoid making a ‘wad’ of stitches when you start a stitch line. It is a bit more time-consuming, but we all know this art form of ours is not a speed sport. You will want to train yourself early to do this so it becomes a habit.
My preferred method for invisible starts:
1. First, if possible, make your start (or stop) at a place on the quilt where it will be the least noticeable. This may be at a seam line, or where the color on a certain fabric changes, or on a particularly busy fabric.
2. Hold both bottom and top thread ends in your hand while taking several TINY (think one thread-width) stitches with your single stitch button (longarm). Keep the thread in your hand taut as you do this. Your hand will move with the thread as it remains taut and slips through the fabric. When the thread stops moving (at about 3 tiny stitches), you know the end is secure in the fabric. I stitch 2 more tiny stitches just to be sure. A video of this technique is here.
3. Now, you can clip your thread end, if you wish, or bury the thread.
To make end your stitchline invisibly, you can end your stitchline with several tiny stitches. If your bobbin thread has run out, you don’t have this luxury.
In that case, remove the last remaining 3-4″ of stitches. Go back far enough so that your stitch line ends at an inconspicuous place (at a seam or where the color changes on your fabric). Tie a square knot, and bury the thread.
Tomorrow: bury threads, or Six Feet Under.