How to Prevent Thread Tangles

How to prevent thread tangles when hand sewing?

A very common problem that occurs when sewing by hand is that the thread gets all twisted and tangled up. It sounds like a small problem but if you’re reading this you perhaps know how annoying it can be!

This happens because thread is essentially made of two or more yarns tightly twisted together. Being under tension, it tends to twist upon itself very easily.

Untangling those loops and knots that occur now and again can be very time consuming (and frustrating). And if you can’t untangle them, sometimes you just have to cut the thread and start over.

But the good thing is that there are some simple ways to avoid the tangles.

So how do you prevent the thread from tangling?

1. Use beeswax.

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  • The most commonly used remedy is good old beeswax.
  • Running the thread through beeswax prevents tangling, and it also makes the thread stronger.
  • Beeswax is generally available at sewing stores in a circular disk with notches for pulling the thread through.
  • Pull the thread through the beeswax a couple of times to coat it properly before sewing.
  • Alternatively, you can also use natural beeswax (some people prefer it).
  • Remember that beeswax can sometimes stain the fabric. So do a trial before starting to sewon your final project.

2. Try Thread Heaven.

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  • This gel-like thread conditionerhas lots of benefits.
  • It prevents tangling and knotting, reduces fraying, protects the thread from mold and mildew, and reduces thread drag.
  • It is non-toxic, and doesn’t stain the fabric!
  • Pull the thread over the top of the conditioner, applying a little pressure to make sure that the thread is coated from all sides.
  • The post on the Thread Heaven website has detailed instructions on how to use it.
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3. Use Special Quilting Thread.

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  • Many thread companies make a special thread for hand quilting.
  • It is glazed so that it passes through the fabric easily and knots less.
  • Remember – You can use machine thread for hand sewing, but you cannot use hand sewing thread in the machine. The glazed coating can hamper the functioning of the machine.

4. Run the thread through Dryer Sheets.


  • Dyer sheets work on thread in same way as they work on clothes. They reduce static and make the thread more manageable.
  • Just fold a dryer sheet in half, and pull the thread through it.

5. Run the thread between your fingers.

  • Some people suggest running the thread between your two fingers a few times.
  • The natural oils on your skin gently coat the thread.

6. Iron the thread.

  • The thread might develop kinks because of being wound around a spool.
  • To remove these kinks, iron the thread while pulling it a little.

7. Wrap embroidery skeins neatly around bobbins.

  • Opened a new skein, and now the floss is in a huge tangled mess?
  • Justwrap it around a bobbin. This way you can conveniently store it till you need to use it again.
  • You can buy these bobbins from sewing stores, or make them at home using cardboard.

8. Some general tips

  • Make sure the thread isn’t longer than 18 – 20 inches. It may seem tedious to thread the needle over and over again, but it will be much simpler than untangling those knots.
  • Thread the end that you have just cut from the spool.
  • While hand sewing, if the thread tends to twist in one direction, gently roll the needle in the other direction.
  • And finally, if there is a knot, try to untangle it gently. Pulling on the knot may tighten it, or cause the thread to break.
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Whether it’s sewing on a button, or doing some embroidery, thread tangling can sometimes make a relaxing job seem frustrating and never-ending. (And make you want to toss the project to a side!)

So try out these different techniques, and find the one that works best for you!

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