Fixing & Finishing Loose Ends

As I get ready to write this newsletter I am looking out my office window. It is snowing again! The cars are covered with the stuff. What is fascinating to me is that the flakes are tiny, yet they are accumulating pretty quickly. You would think that small flakes could compact better falling into the little crevices in our large snow mountains. It got me thinking about how much little bits of thread impact our lives as stitchers, so today I am going to talk about gadgets that deal with…

Tying Up Loose Ends

What can you do when you have stitched too far and don’t have enough thread left to finish off properly, whether that is a knot or tucking your thread behind stitching? There is a wonderful little gadget will do the trick for you. This gadget is known by several names including the following:

The Fiber Hider and the Tail Catcher work in similar ways. Before you begin remove the thread from your needle. These gadgets have two pieces, one with a loop and one with a hook. On the back of your work, slip the end with the loop under several stitches bringing the loop out close to the end of the thread. Using the other piece of the tool, slip the hook through the wire loop and then hook the end of the thread. Pull the thread through the hook. Remove the hook leaving the thread in the loop. Gently pull the looped piece under the stitches, pulling the thread with it. If you need to bury that thread further than the loop is long, repeat the process. Carefully clip the end of the thread when you have it buried as far as you want. The Fiber Hider comes in several designs.

The Star De-tailor only has one piece, with a large loop. Push the loop underneath the stitches on the back of your work. Manually feed the end of the thread through the loop, then carefully pull the loop through the stitches to secure the end. Repeat if needed, then carefully clip the remaining thread.

Another type of tool that can be used for small threads is a snag repair tool. These tools have a special end with a small hook, some even have a latch. You slip the tool under the stitching on the back of your piece, catching the end of the thread with the hook and gently pulling it back under the stitching. Trim the end of your thread.

You can also use the tool to fix surface stitches that have become loose by poking the tool through the fabric from the back. Hook onto the loose thread and pull it to the back where you can use the tool to secure it under several stitches. This also works the same way for snags on your sweaters and other clothing. Several options for this tool include the new Thread Pic and The Do-It Tooly.

We also carry a couple of snag repair tools that repair snags in knits, garments, draperies, and upholstery. This type of gadget has a needle that you insert directly into the center of the snag or thread from the top. Gently push the tool through the fabric bringing the snag with it. A similar gadget is a stitch fixer which has a pick on one end and a small fork on the other. You capture the thread or snag with the fork, pushing it back through the fabric. Check out the Stitch Fixers.

Once you have one of these tools in your stitching basket, you will wonder how you did without it! It will simplify your life when working with short threads. Now, what do you do with those little pieces once you secure and cut the end of thread?

In August 2008 we talked about orts. "Orts" is a real word meaning little scraps or leftovers. Many people think it is an acronym and we got some pretty creative suggestions like Our Really Tiny Scraps or Thread Snippets. I used to just clip my threads and make a pile on my work station to throw away later. It never failed….somehow the threads would get scattered and end up on me or on the floor.

Then I was introduced to orts collectors. Whether you collect the orts for a craft project or throw them away at the end of your stitching session, you will find it really does make a difference to keep your work surface neat. Here are some suggestions to corral your orts.

A couple of collectors that you can slip on your bag include the bag caddy. These cute little slide boxes also make great ort collectors.

Sometimes you get orts because you have to do some frogging. Frogging is an "endearing" term used by some stitching when referring to removing stitches when you have an uff da (mistake). You rip-rip-rip it out…..sounding somewhat like a frog.

There is a handy tool to deal with those clipped stitches. It’s called Judy’s Boo-Boo stick. Clip the stitches that you need to remove. You can use tweezers to pull out the individual threads. You can also try using Judy’s Boo-Boo stick by passing the large end with the brush over the clipped threads on the back of the fabric. The threads will catch on the bristles and be gently removed. Use the smaller brush to go back and grab the remaining threads. Be sure to be gentle because the brushes can disturb surrounding threads and fabrics.

Tiny threads are used to make some of our gadgets. A great example is the microfiber cleaning cloths. Microfiber refers to synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, which measure less than one denier. According to an Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet "Denier is the term used to define the diameter or fineness of a continuous or filament fiber such as silk" The report says that to be a microfiber, the fiber must be less than one denier. As a reference point, fine silk is about 1.25 denier.

Microfiber fabrics have been around for over 50 years. It was first discovered in the 1950’s. In the 1970’s a Japanese scientist created a fabric we know as ultra-suede. Sweden is credited for creating the fibers widely used for cleaning cloths. Then a variety of blankets, home furnishings, and clothing were made using the microfibers. These fabrics make excellent sportswear, rainwear, tents, and sleeping bags, because the fabrics are wind-resistant, water repellant, and light-weight.

Microfiber cleaning cloths can hold up to seven times their weight in water. They absorb a variety of liquids including oils. Their construction prevents dust from getting away, trapping allergens. With today’s concern about viruses and bacteria, it was interesting to note that, TEOnline, said "the cloths reduce the number of bacteria by 99% whereas a conventional cleaning cloth reduces them only by 33%."

One use stitchers and hobbyists have for these microfiber cloths are cleaning magnifying lenses. Several options are Microfiber Cleaning Cloth in Case and OptiCloth Scenes.

A couple of tips:

  • Microfiber cloths are not a good choice to clean jewelry with rough edges or loose settings. The fine cloth can snag more easily and it may cause abrasions on some surfaces.
  • It is possible for your microfiber cloth to fill up with dirt, dust and fine particles which can scratch fine surfaces. Read the instructions with your cloth to see how to clean it. If in doubt, throw it out and buy a new one.
  • Many of these cloths are unhemmed on purpose to avoid scratching by the stitched hems.

What if your thread is too short for major projects, but too long to be considered an ort?

You can still get some life out of these threads. A great way to use up scraps is making bookmarks. We have a Bookmark Challenge campaign every year. You’ll read more about it in our newsletters. We carry lots of patterns for a wide variety of techniques. Here are just a few examples:


We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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