Single, Double Knots, & Anchoring

Growing up, I frequently watched my mom thread needles on her sewing machine. The process was intricate, composing of winding thread through many hooks and crevices. This often lead to frustration and expletives. Hand sewing is by far more straight forward and less scary. Even if you grew up using a machine, a stitch done by hand is far more detailed and personal.

Here are a few ways to start sewing with confidence:

Single Strand Sewing

Thanks to movies and TV, single strand sewing is probably the most commonly known style of sewing. The concept is: You thread through your needle with a single strand of thread, leaving a tail near your needle, and knotting your other end to start. The strand is singular, which means if the strand is thin, the work is small and delicate. I am certain people from the past used this style to use less thread, showing thriftiness in the pocketbook. This type of style requires patience and a keen eye to make sure every stitch is accounted for without mistakes or snags.

I find this type of stitching to have two flaws. Firstly, you only have one strand to withstand the abuse of your tugging. This drastically increases the likelihood of your thread breaking. Secondly, the tail of your thread near your needle isn’t tied, and so if you forget about the tail as you pull, the thread will eventually slip off the needle.

This can fit in a smaller eye needle with tightly woven fabric.

Double Strand Sewing

Double strand sewing is my favorite form of secure sewing because you get twice the amount of thread strength per stitch. For a double strand, you thread your needle, and join your thread end with your other thread end. You can either knot or anchor, closing off any possibility for the thread to slip off your needle.

One flaw with this method is if you twist the double thread, the likelihood of knotting from the back is higher, and knot mistakes are difficult to undo. This can be avoided by routinely letting your needle hang from your work and unwind.

This can fit in a smaller eye needle with tightly woven fabric.

Embroidery Triple Strand Sewing

This type of sewing requires embroidery thread. Embroidery thread is much thicker than any other sewing thread you will find, as each strand is made up of 6 smaller strands. These strands can be separated after a section is cut, and most projects work fine with 3 strands per threading line. This type of thread will easily fit larger eye needle, because fitting 3 strands through a smaller eye is very difficult. Embroidery stitches benefit best from embroidery fabric or a loosely woven fabric.



There are only a few knots I use time and time again for sewing projects. You really don’t need to know very many.

A Single Knot or an Overhand Knot, I find is not enough for the work I put the thread through, unless the thread is really thick. You can try to use it, but I rarely find any way to do this without some form of my work being pulled through or undone by mistake. I prefer to use this for leather laces and things of that thickness. Fine yarn in my opinion, doesn’t measure up in being enough to use this knot.

A Double Knot implies a overhand knot done twice over itself for added security. This prevents the thread from pulling through the first puncture in your work. I use this often in sewing and crafting. The knot strength quadruples if using a double strand thread with a double knot. I find this to be ideal for any project.

A Looped Double Knot is just like the first, except the knot is made with a loop at the end. Some people like to join their work and knot it at the end with the loop. I find it to be tedious because the knotted loop can stick out if it is too big. I tend to pull the loop taut, and tie my thread just below the knot and then trim the excess off. This knot can be used with an anchoring point.


Anchoring your Work

Anchoring implies that no matter how you pull, your work will always stay put (like a anchor to a ship).

Anchoring requires you to make a loop at the end of your single strand but I prefer to have a double stranded thread with a double knot at the end to start.

To create an anchor, first puncture your needle in (from the back of your work to the front) and poke it towards the back of your work about half a stitch away. Be sure not to pull your thread tight. You can then guide your needle through the double stranded thread and pull through, creating an anchor. In order for this to come undone, your anchor would have to rip right through the fabric, or the line would have to snap. Even if this does happen, you still have one strand to continue using.

Below is an example of a double strand, double knot anchor:

Puncture out front and then in to the back. Loop through with needle and gently pull closed.
View from the back
View from the front

-Take a few moments to practice, and soon you will have faith in your knots and anchor work to withstand your sewing project. Good Luck!


All tutorial photos belong to Sonya C. “The Bone Generation”.

Header Image is free from

Work Cited:

Bender Alexa.”Period Sewing Techniques”. , copyright (c) 1997-2019, Date Accessed: 05/03/20.

Bender Alexa. ” La Couturière Parisienne Costume History”. “ copyright (c) 1997-2019, Date Accessed: 05/03/20″.

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