How to Not Get Tangled Threads on the Back of Your Embroidery

Most fun thing to ever happen to embroidery: that rat’s nest of tangly-tangly threads on the back of your work that manage to ensnare your stitching.  And it’s totally not cool, because it’s not like you can really check every single stitch from the back while you pull it from the front, right?  Actually, I have seen people who do that, or who have advanced, zen-like loop management techniques while they embroider.  I … I cannot.  If you also cannot, here is how to avoid getting a bunch of tangled threads and knots in the back of your embroidery.  I don’t know that this is technically cheating, which feels weird for me.

TL;DR: Don’t leave a bunch of thread tails on the back of your embroidery.

It’s like, how do you avoid tripping on long skirts?  Don’t let the skirts get under your feets.

Here we go:

Small stitch into and out of the top side of embroidery, near the edge.
When you start a thread, start at the edge of your work with a small stitch into and out of the top side.
Large stitch over to the work area.
Take a largish stitch over to where you plan to start your run of stitches, then go down to the back side of your work.
Stitch up to the top side of your work, where you plan to put stitches. Go gonzo; you’re all good now.
Now, you will still get stitch-loopsies trying to entangle and devour threadsie-ends. But all that action will take place on the top of your work, where you can see it.

And you can be all like, no, thread, I have had enough of your shenaniganery.  I will have no sass from thread!

A short stitch on the back of the work.
When ending a thread, take a short stitch away from the completed thread run in back, then bring the needle to the front.

Pro tip: just do the weaving in of the thread end before you do this.  You will save yourself time and pain (and cursing and hatred and unfinished projects).

Small stitch a ways away from work.
On the front, pull your thread away from areas yet to be worked and secure it with a small stitch.

Now, for my fellow OCDers, you are going to have to accept a trade off: you will avoid knots on the back of the work, but the front of the work will quickly become Not Cute(tm).

Spider-webs of stray thread ends on the front of the work
Almost done, but in the words of the late, great Warren Zevon, “it ain’t that pretty at all…”

I get through it by working in sections, and counting how many days it’s been since the last knot on the wrong side of the work.  (Answer: the number is bigger the more days you just don’t touch that embroidery!  Tee hee…)

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