Knots and Finishing Your Needlework Professionally

Knots and Finishing Your Needlework Professionally

As a crafter, or professional artisan of the needle arts, knots are an ever present concern. If you’re like most needle artists you dread whenever you have to change thread or run out of working thread supply. Yes, you make a standard knot and pray it won’t come undone; but, there’s better solutions. In this article you’ll get three options for securing two strings of thread as one.


The Russian Join (knot).

This is a means of joining two lengths of thread that;

  • is almost invisible
  • won’t come undone
  • yields a professional finish
  • does not form a knotted bump

Here’s a video teaching how to tie the Russian Join.

What is required is a large eye needle, and two lengths of thread that need to be joined. Start by threading one length of thread through the needle eye. Leave approximately a three inch tail. Now, hold the long working end of the thread; you’re going to make a few running stitches in this same length of thread. Put the needle in the long working length of thread and make your stitches. Run the needle through the working length of thread for about two inches. Pull the needle all the way through the thread leaving a loop in the opposite end.

You’ll see the thread and loop getting smaller as you pull the needle through.

Now, take the second length of thread and thread it through the needle eye, the same way, leaving approximately a three inch tail. This time, however, take the needle through the loop made in the first length of thread. Then follow the same procedure as before…make a few running stitches into that same second length of thread for about two inches.

Pull it all the way through.

It too, will create a loop, but this time the first loop will be entwined with the second loop.. Remove the needle.

Now, hold the knot and pull on the tail to tighten the knot. Do the same for the thread on the opposite side. Pull each length of thread to it’s maximum tightness without forcing. Once done correctly, both threads should appear to be almost as one length. Snip the extra lengths of tail, and your done!

This knot is so ingenious-once worked into the stitches of the item being made-you can see why this knot will stay put indefinitely.

A disadvantage of the Russian join is accurate placement of the knot is hard to achieve. Accuracy of placement of the knot may be needed in a color change, or variation in a stitch, (you wouldn’t want a knot in the middle of a link of chains, for example). Another disadvantage of the Russian join method is that you have to have a needle available and the procedure takes about 90 seconds as opposed to 30 seconds with a regular knot. Now, here’s another alternative, when you don’t have a needle available, or, you just don’t feel like the extra effort…


Use the Surgeon’s Knot.

The Surgeon’s Knot is just what it says-a specialized knot used by surgeons to suture an area. The advantages of the Surgeon’s Knot are;

  • it’s quick
  • it’s secure
  • accuracy in placement of the knot
  • secure even when the ends are cut close to the knot. I experimented and tied the Surgeon’s Knot in a length of crochet thread. I cut the two loose ends as close to the knot as possible. I then pulled the thread from every direction and could not get the knot to loosen. In fact, the more I pulled the tighter the knot held.
  • it’s best in applications where the first throw (cross) of the knot needs to hold securely while the second throw of the knot is being readied. For example, have you ever had to tie, maybe a bag, and when you make the first throw is loosens before you can make the second throw of the strings? With a Surgeon’s knot the first throw will hold securely pending the preparation of the second throw. To demonstrate the strength of this knot, I have a four shelf, 48″ long closet organizer. It fastens to the closet pole by two strings on each side. Recently both of the strings broke. So, I decided to try out the Surgeon’s knot in a heavy duty situation. Previously, I had only used it for crocheting. So, I made the first cross and overlap of the strings, and let go. I was able to suspend the organizer with one throw of the Surgeon’s knot while the organizer held the weight all of these items: a queen fitted sheet, a vest, a set of 76″ sheer curtains, a santa hat, a lingerie bag, 2 bathing suits, a shrug, an evening gown, a woman’s hat, a wallet and a night gown! That was without completing the knot with the second throw, and with just using one set of the two ties; handy for situations where security of a knot is needed. For me, The Surgeon’s knot proved to be a very strong knot.

Here’s how to tie a Surgeon’s Knot (the video).


There’s no blood or patient, but the video is real „surgical“ instruction…The Surgeon’s Knot is so easy. Where you cross the two strands of the first throw, the Surgeon’s Knot extends that a little further…just cross the strand over an extra time. This is the essential part and what prevents the throw from loosening. After that just tie the way you would normally and cross the strands just once. This knot holds in place almost as well as glue. You can feel the strength once secured in place.

Both of the above are very good knots that can be used interchangeably, dependent on time, tools and results you would like to achieve.

And finally, you can stick with your old method of tying knots, just be sure to add a dab of fabric adhesive in the first throw, and before the second throw. This is another means of securing knots for your crafts that will be around for generations to come.


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