How to Thread a Sewing Machine: Explore Our Great Online Guide

How to load, set up, string, and finally, how to thread a sewing machine?

It looks like a quick task: 

You need to turn your sewing machine on, set it up, thread it, choose settings, and do your first sew! (Threads Monthly

Yet, somehow, there is a pretty exhaustive essay to read on this subject. Check it out in the paragraphs below!

Stay with us to discover what a seemingly simple act of threading is all about.  

How to thread a sewing machine—getting ready

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to take you through the answer to “How do I thread a sewing machine?” in steps.

Are you ready for the guide on threading a sewing machine for dummies? 

So are we!

For starters, a little introductory video. 

Listen to Beth to learn how to load a sewing machine on the basic Janome sewing machine

This video takes less than two minutes, so take it as a non-binding introduction to the more demanding lesson in arrival: 

When you’re threading your sewing machine, you “load an upper thread and a lower thread into your machine. The machine will weave these two threads together in order to create stitches in your material.” (Master Class)

Did anyone order stitches? We’re on our way to making these craft treasures.

How to thread a sewing machine
Image source: Make It Love It

Setting up your sewing machine correctly is the first step to great sewing. 

And what is the last step?

To finish up your project and give it a dash of luxury, reach out for different types of woven labels by Super Label Store.

These custom care labels, hang tags, and woven labels will take your DIY fashion designs to a higher level of sophistication and charm. 

Learn to sew and make your projects shine with this final touch of elegance and professionalism. 

So, how to put the thread in a sewing machine?

Here’s how Jennifer Wiese from Howcast YouTube channel puts it: 

At the beginning of the video, she mentions two approaches:

    1. you may want to check the users manual of your domestic or industrial sewing machine to discover how to set up a sewing machine, or
    2. you can follow your intuitive inner guide and just go with the flow; 

Most sewing machines have threading diagrams printed on them, making it easier to tackle each (threading methods may differ on various appliances).

Threading a sewing machine
Image source: Sew Simple Home

Thread guide sewing machine—steps to follow

Before you start, ensure you have all that’s needed for the threading operation.

As we read on the Apartment Therapy, you should equip yourself with the following:

    1. Materials
      • thread

      2. Tools

      • sewing machine
      • needle
      • empty bobbin
      • scissors

You’ll have to wind the bobbin and thread the machine. We’ll get to winding the bobbin a little later. 

Now, let’s get down to business and discover how to set up your sewing machine.

Steps

Action

Place your spool of thread on the spool holder (read about other sewings supplies here) and cover it with a spool cap if necessary.

Bring the thread through the first thread guide on the top of the machine. 

By the way, do you already have the best sewing machine?

Bring the thread through the first row of channels. Make sure the thread passes through the tension plates or tension discs.

Follow the threading channel downward, bring the tail around the island in between the two channels.

(by Felt Magnet

Ok, the last two steps weren’t the easiest. So let us help you out with the help of the picture below.

How to thread a sewing machine with photos
Image source: Feltmagnet 

Are you at step 3, where you pass the thread through vertical channels (tension plates or discs are there), and want to make sure the thread passes through the plates?

Tug on both ends to keep the thread taught while guiding it through. 

Also, to verify if everything went right, move a tension knob to zero, turn it again and then re-tighten the tension. 

Now, let’s get back to figuring out how do you thread a sewing machine in steps. 

Steps

Action

Bring the thread up, following the second or left-most channel.

Make sure the thread hooks around the thread uptake lever—it’s a metal hanger-type apparatus with a notch for the thread. 

Turn the handwheel to raise the needle to the highest position if you need. 

Bring the thread down to the needle area and catch the needle thread guide (it’s a little eyelet located on the front or side of the needle).

Read about sewing machine needles on our blog if it made you curious. 

Now you can thread the needle. In most domestic sewing machines, the tail goes through the needle from front to back.

Was it helpful?

Let’s go through it again with Nika from Made to Sew. 

How to set up a sewing machine
Image source: Pinterest

Are we good? Still, trying to thread this incredibly tiny eye of a needle?

Let’s tackle this issue in the following paragraph.

Easy way to thread a sewing machine needle 

To push things forward, now, we need to tackle how to thread a sewing machine needle.

Luckily, The Spruce Crafts shares a couple of handy tips for threading a needle in the list below:

    1. Put white behind the needle or add a dab of white-out to a presser foot holder

Why haven’t we thought about it earlier? 

Just put the white piece of paper behind, and a white color contrasting with the needle and thread will make them more visible. 

The safest place to keep the paper? Pinned to your pincushion. 

That’s it! This way, you’ll always have it nearby. 

When it comes to the sewing machine, if it has a standard silver presser foot holder, it may be hard to deal with threading a needle. 

Whether you have a sewing machine for beginners, Singer heavy duty sewing machine, embroidery sewing machine, or any other kind, follow our tip: 

Put a dab of liquid paper or white-out on the foot holder, right behind the needle. Just ensure you allow it to dry completely before sewing fabric

You can also use a sliver of plain white labeling.

Niler Taylor explains the magic of this method in her video:

How to thread a sewing machine needle
Image source: YouTube

      2. Cut the thread with sharp scissors at an angle and use quality thread

As we read on The Spruce Crafts,

“a clean-cut thread is always easier to get through the eye of a sewing needle than a fuzzy shredded thread. Using quality thread also makes the task much easier.”

Cutting at an angle may not be visible to the naked eye, but you’ll know. 

Cut it at a 45-degree angle. 

Also, the thicker is the thread, the more angled cut you need to do to avoid shredding. 

      3. Stiffen the thread

You can do it in a couple of ways. 

You can stiffen the end of a limp piece of thread with a drop of:

      • water, 
      • saliva, or 
      • beeswax;

Tips for threading a needle
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

Just drag the thread through the piece of wax to stiffen it.

Why is this method so helpful (especially when working with mediocre or poor-quality thread)?

It will simplify the process of threading by helping you to control and precisely guide the thread through the needle eye. 

Keep in mind to use beeswax only with thread for a hand-held sewing needle. This is because, in sewing machines, it can end up gumming up the mechanism. 

      4. Use a needle threader

Using a needle threader is nothing new—it was created to simplify the procedure of threading a needle. 

Also, it usually comes with a package of needles. 

But you can also buy them individually (check the sewing notions section).

If you have never seen a needle threader —it’s a petite, flexible looped wire with a big eye to thread through, which you later pull through a tiny eye of your needle. 

You can also use a needle threader with a machine needle.

Read how to use a needle threader step by step on Blog Treasurie.

How to use a needle threader
Image source: Blog Treasurie

      5. Use the built-in needle threader

Many sewing machines (whether it’s a handheld sewing machine, kids sewing machine, or leather sewing machine) have pretty good lighting installed in their mechanism. 

But even with the best illumination, it can be hard to thread a sewing machine needle, especially if you need to do it fast. 

Luckily, there is a solution: a built-in, automatic needle threader. 

It’s available in many, even mid-priced sewing machines, and it can have a form of:

      • a pull-down lever that you control, or
      • a push-button feature (in this case, a machine does all the work for you); 

Thanks to Emily P, who showed us “How to use the automatic needle threader on a Singer sewing machine 4166 tutorial.” Make sure to check it out!

      6. Use tweezers

Tweezers will help hold steady an unruly piece of thread. 

Use longer bent handle tweezers—ones made for threading a serger—or regular tweezers with slanted edges to grip the end of the thread and slip it through the eye of the needle.

      7. Use a droplet of water

We’re employing water again, but this time not to stiffen a needle. 

With a drop of water, you can manipulate the thread through the eye of the needle.

First, put a drop of water on your thumb or forefinger. 

Then put the wet finger near the side of a hand-held needle where you’re going to make the thread come through. 

Keep your finger close with enough room for the thread to maneuver. 

The droplet should act as a magnet, drawing the thread through the eye of the needle.

It sounds like magic but is likely to work. Try it out!

How to thread a sewing needle tutorial
Image source: YouTube

      8. Use the right size eye

Ok, this is not a technical tip; but you may want to know this.

It’s crucial to have the right thread for the right needle. 

As The Spruce Crafts reminds: 

“If you’re trying to squeeze a thick thread through a small eye, you’ll almost certainly end up with a shredded end. Fine bobbin thread, for example, works well with a small needle eye. Thicker buttons and carpet thread need a needle with a larger eye to easily accept the thread. Using the right eye for the size thread also prevents damaging or snapping the thread while you’re sewing.”

How to put thread in sewing machine
Image source: Sew Special

Any other tips?

We’ve got a few more treats for our hungry sewers!

Check out these tips shared by Sewing Machine Fun

Tip

Description

Extra tip

Needle up

To make it easier to thread your sewing machine, do it with a needle in an up position. 

    1. If you’re using a computerized machine, it takes only pressing the needle up button.
    2. On manual models, you’ll have to use the handwheel (on the right of the machine) or gently press the foot pedal to move the needle to the up position. An automatic needle threader will only work in the up position.

Machine off

    • First, set the needle up with the machine on, 
    • Then, switch the machine off for threading!

As you’ve noticed, this move turned off the workspace light. Yet, especially if you’re a beginner, accidentally starting the machine while fiddling with the sharp needle may end up dramatic.

An auxiliary light will replace the workspace light for now. Once you’ve gotten the hang of needle threading, you’ll choose if you prefer to thread when your machine is on or off.

Presser foot down or removed

Some people aren’t precise by nature or just have large fingers—they’ll need more space to work freely. 

To ensure you’ve got enough room, lower or remove the presser foot after you’ve threaded the upper thread. You can usually remove the presser foot by:

    • pressing a lever, or 
    • snapping the foot off;

Speaking of the presser foot, apart from threading a needle, we should also wind the bobbin.

Let’s see what winding the bobbin is all about. 

Clip thread after winding bobbin on sewing machine
Image source: The Ruffled Purse

How to set up thread on sewing machine—winding a bobbin

To learn how to string a sewing machine (and, in consequence, how to sew), you’ll need to tackle another critical part of this procedure. 

Besides threading a needle, sewers also need to wind a bobbin! 

Which parts of the sewing machine to identify before winding a bobbin?

Check where are:

    • spool pin,
    • bobbin winding tension disk,
    • bobbin winding spindle,
    • bobbin winding stopper,
    • thread guide,
    • handwheel (also known as a flywheel);

What is a bobbin? 

It’s a small spool that serves to wind thread on it. 

While previously we threaded the upper thread of a sewing machine, a bobbin is meant to hold the thread that forms the stitches on the bottom side of the fabric.

A bobbin is usually located beneath the needle plate in your sewing machine. 

There are two types of sewing machines: 

    • with a top-loading—if your bobbin case is located right under the presser foot and you can access it from the top, and 
    • a front-loading bobbin—if you don’t quite see the bobbin; 

(After we break down all the sewing machine parts in this article, sewing machine repair will have no secrets from you.) 

Jennifer from WorkRoom Social is excellent at explaining the most challenging parts:

Sewing machine bobbin
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

“If you don’t already have bobbins wound with thread (either from a previous project or store-bought pre-wound bobbins), you’ll need to wind your own from an existing spool of thread.”

—says Master Class staff. 

Winding your bobbin from an existing spool of thread is not that hard to execute. 

Just place a spool of sewing thread on your machine’s thread pin (at the top of your machine) and pull the thread to the left.

Spool pins for thread coils
Image source: Sew Way

You can now wind it counter-clockwise around the pre-tension disc (attached to the thread guide). 

Now you should thread the thread through the two small holes in your empty bobbin. 

Wind the thread several times around the center pillar of the bobbin. 

Place the bobbin on the machine’s bobbin winder pin (you’ll typically find it on the top right side, near the thread pin). 

To begin winding the bobbin, press your machine’s foot pedal. 

When you’re done winding a bobbin, trim the thread to detach it from your larger spool.

How to wind a bobbin on your sewing machine
Image source: The Ruffled Purse

Consider that bobbins aren’t universal. Every sewing machine requires a specific type of bobbin. If you somehow manage to use bobbins not dedicated to your sewing machine, your stitches may not come outright.

Another two super helpful tips by The Spruce Crafts go like this:

“Thread labeled “bobbin thread” in stores is a very lightweight thread used for machine embroidery or machine basting. It shouldn’t be used for normal sewing. For regular sewing, use the same type of thread that you use in the upper threading of the sewing machine.”

“When you are sewing and the bobbin thread knots up or creates wads of thread, as much as it may seem like it is caused by the bobbin, it is usually caused by the top threading of the machine or the sewing machine needle.”

Spool pins for thread coils
Image source: Sew Way

Below you’ll see an amatorial-looking (but how useful to watch!) tutorial called “Winding a Bobbin Guide.” The best-used two minutes of your life. Have a look:

Now, after you’ve learned how to wind a bobbin, you’ll discover how to load it to the machine.

In the meantime, have a look at these sewing room ideas.

Threading a sewing machine tips
Image source: Sew Simple Home

So we’ve got two parts: a bobbin and a bobbin case. 

Not surprisingly, the former must get into the latter. 

Once you have a wound bobbin, it should go in a small compartment underneath your sewing machine needle (bobbin case). This mechanism supplies the lower thread as your machine sews. 

What to do first?

Raise a needle to its highest position by turning a handwheel toward you (counterclockwise) or pressing a button. Next, raise a presser foot lever.

Open a shuttle cover behind an extension table in front of the machine to reveal the bobbin housing. Then, remove the bobbin casing.

Position the bobbin in the round slot of a casing so that the thread is trailing off along the right side (clockwise). Your machine will have an arrow showing which way you should place a bobbin. 

Pop the bobbin into the bobbin casing and bring the thread through the small notch on it. Pull out 10cm (4″) from a full bobbin.

Pull the thread towards the right side of the casing until it snaps through the slanted guide and rests in the open area.

How to string a sewing machine
Image source: Sew Way

According to Apartment Therapy, now, you should

“Flip the bobbin casing over, and let the thread rest on the right side of the horn” and “Push the bobbin casing into the bobbin housing, so the tip of the horn lines up with the notch in the shuttle hook cover. Push gently, until you hear the bobbin snap into place.”

When you close the shuttle cover casing, this part is officially finished. 

If you haven’t placed a bobbin case back correctly into the machine, it will fail out from the shuttle immediately after starting to sew.

So how did it go exactly? 

    1. Load the thread onto the thread spool,
    2. Guide the thread through the upper thread guide,
    3. Create tension with the tension discs,
    4. Control thread with the takeup lever,
    5. Guide thread with thread hooks above the needle,
    6. Thread the needle, and
    7. Load the bobbin;

Check the complete “How To Thread A Sewing Machine (7 Step Guide)” on The Creative Curator.

We’re not saying that you have to start sewing leather immediately, but now you’re all set up, and it’s a wonderful moment to start your sewing adventure.

How to load a sewing machine
Image source: The Ruffled Purse

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