How to Thread an Embroidery Needle: A Useful Guide

How to thread an embroidery needle? 

If you are an embroidery freak, you already know how to respond to this question.

But if you are a novice, it’s a good idea you hear us up!

This article reveals the right way of tackling this potentially frustrating part of your embroidery undertaking. 

As mentioned in Erin Frisch Studio,

“Splitting your floss, threading your needle, and stretching the fabric of your hoop aren’t the most flashy topics in creating embroidery.”

Yet, someone has to do it!

Mastering these skills will not only make embroidering easier while you are doing it. Nailing the foundational steps of the embroidery magic will also show in your finished pieces.

Separating embroidery thread

Before breaking down how to thread a needle for embroidery, make sure to gather essential embroidery supplies:

    1. embroidery needle,
    2. a fresh cut of embroidery thread or floss, and 
    3. needle threader (optionally);

Even though there are many different hand embroidery threads (feel free to go through the comprehensive list on Crewel Ghoul), the most common is six-strand embroidery floss

And since it comprises six strands of thread, you can divide it. This way, you can use it for your project exactly how you want, with as many as six options to experiment with. Separating a thread is also called stripping.

Getting started with embroidery
Image source: Jenny Lemons

To sum it up, you can: 

    1. Thread your needle with all six strands of floss—for example, in needlepoint, or 
    2. Separate your floss and use only individual strands, for instance:
      • one strand for lines and delicate work, such as a needle painting; 
      • two strands for cross stitch,

depending on the desired effect.

Read “Needle Painting—A simple guide to get started” on Sew Guide if you are curious about this technique. 

Pansy embroidery needle painting
Image source: Sew Guide

Using all six strands together will lead to making great chunky lines. 

On the other hand, separating strands will allow you to stitch with varying thicknesses and open the door to alternative, often very appealing outcomes.

Here is “Separating embroidery floss strands” explained in the brief video by Needlework Tips:

One handy tip from The Spruce Crafts is only separate stranded threads designed for splitting. 

Don’t do it with twisted threads, such as 

How to thread an embroidery needle
Image source: YouTube

The Spruce Crafts suggests separating strands following the steps below: 

    1. To separate stranded cotton floss (we also write about the types of cotton fabric), cut a piece about the length of your forearm, 
    2. Now, tap the end to identify individual strands, 
    3. Separate from the main floss as many strands as you need, and hold the split end in one hand,
    4. Draw a finger on your other hand down the thread until you divide it,
    5. When you reach the end, let the groups of a thread untwist;

Are you still pondering: “How Many Strands Should I Use?”. Mary Corbet from the Needle N Thread dispels all doubts.

Embroidery floss stitch size
Image source: Needle N Thread

Threading embroidery needle

Cross stitch and embroidery needles have larger eyes than needles designed for sewing or quilting, but it’s not entirely good news (in case you expect the process to be easier).

Sure, the needle’s eyes are bigger, but if you go for a complete six-strand embroidery floss without separating it, consider that it’s six times more sizable than a slender embroidery thread.

All things considered, tackling how to thread embroidery floss is just as challenging as regular threading. 

You can thread an embroidery needle with and without a threader. 

Let’s start with the easier option.

Threading needle for embroidery with a needle threader

Craft Buds explains that a needle threader is one of these small embroidery supplies that help to thread a needle.

Some other embroidery supplies you may want to get familiar with are

A needle threader is built of a minuscule metal or plastic wire with an even smaller hook at one end. 

How to use a needle threader
Image source: Blog Treasurie

Use it following these few simple steps: 

Steps What to do
1 Insert the needle threader’s tiny hook into the needle’s eye.

Place the end of the embroidery floss (or a separated strand) through the needle threader’s hook (also known as a loop).

If you use a thicker type of embroidery thread, such as Perle cotton or all the strands of stranded cotton, work it through gently—you don’t want to tug the wire loop off of a basic threader. 

3 After you place the thread inside the hook, pull the hook back through the eye. 

If you have difficulties threading a needle by hand, this holy savior of all stitching crafters is for you! 

As Blog Treasurie accurately puts it: 

“If you find yourself squinting at the eye of a needle or searching for your reading glasses and still squinting at the eye of a needle (that’s me!), then perhaps it’s time to consider the fancy little gadget that came with the last packet of needles you bought.”

With the video instructions below, you can’t fail to tackle “How to thread an embroidery needle with a threader.” You will also learn how to tie embroidery thread, as it’s another skill worth tailoring:

A comprehensive guide through a needle threader waits to be discovered at Blog Treasurie. 

Threading an embroidery needle
Image source: Sew4Home

Threading needle for embroidery without a needle threader

But what if a needle threader is out of stock in your domestic embroidery kingdom?

How to thread an embroidery needle if all you have are an embroidery needle, embroidery thread, and your embroidery… hands? Let’s not forget about loads of embroidery ideas.

Threading the needle can be a source of anxiety for beginners—remarks Erin Frisch Studio

Our other source, Sew4Home, calls a no-needle-threader method “For Eagle Eyes.” 

Yet, according to The Spruce Crafts,

“as long as you have a needle eye facing the right direction, you can do it without relying on strong eyesight.” 

All in all, if you have a needle threader, using it will most likely save you some time and effort. 

Thread embroidery needle steps
Image source: Craft Buds

An exciting hack comes from an experienced crafter, Thread Unraveled:

Instead of tackling how to use embroidery floss by putting all six strands through the needle’s eye, separate the floss and thread only three strands at once. 

See more on her channel:

Now, with the help of a few expert embroidery authors, let’s go through the step-by-step guide on our core issue: how to insert thread in embroidery needle.

What to do Description
Choose the right embroidery thread

Remember that different types of threads—not only the number of strands you apply to your project—produce different results.

    • Polyester thread on silk or other delicate fabric may cause the fabric to pucker or tear
    • Cotton thread on a sturdy denim fabric gives your design a more rustic look;

You can use an embroidery thread included in your embroidery kit or another one suitable for your sunflower embroidery or a different flower embroidery pattern.

Cut the thread

Cut the thread to the specified size. 

It helps to start with freshly snipped thread cut with sharp embroidery scissors—suggests The Spruce Crafts, especially if you find that your thread is uneven or unraveled. 

Choose the right embroidery needle

The “Top 5 Needles for Hand Embroidery,” according to Tigley Textiles, are

    • Crewel or Embroidery needles,
    • Tapestry needles,
    • Milliner needles,
    • Beading needles,
    • Chenille needles;

Regarding the size, Erin Frisch Studio recommends that every crafter make their life easier by choosing a needle with a giant eye, a No. 1 embroidery needle. As the number goes higher, needles get smaller. A No. 5 embroidery needle is the smallest recommended by the same author. 

All set to start threading?

It looks like we’ve got everything. 

Here is the threading challenge approached in steps:

What to do Description
Wet the thread

In this mysterious stage of wetting the thread, some embroiderers will use water, and others will give the end of the thread a quick lick. Either way, you know what to do.

The idea (whether it’s saliva or water) is to hold the different strands in the floss together. Also, rumors about this microscopic amount of liquid rusting your needles aren’t scientifically proven. 

If wetting isn’t helpful enough, and you still struggle to thread the needle this way, try coating the end with a bit of beeswax or thread conditioner.

Hold the end of the thread

Now, you take your thread in your hands and put it inside the needle’s eye. 

Hold the end of the thread between your thumb and index finger on your dominant hand so that you can barely see it. 

Bring the eye of the needle to the thread, use an acute angle of about 45 degrees, and, still squeezing the floss between your fingers, push the thread through the eye of a needle.

Pull the thread

Push a bit more and finish by pulling the thread through the needle from the other side. 

Are you already imagining the embroidery stitches that this threaded needle can give a beginning to? Google a few free embroidery designs, try them, and share your achievements with us!

Don’t stress if it all doesn’t come out smoothly at first! 

Learning how to thread embroidery thread is just a necessary part of the process. One to tackle and forget it was ever an issue.

Your friends and family want your perfectly tailored embroidery flowers and butterfly embroidery, not the perfectly threaded hand embroidery threading needle, anyway.

How to thread neeble for embroidery
Image source: Needle N Thread

And what do you want? At this point, all you need are Super Label Store’s

    1. custom woven labels
    2. care labels, and
    3. hang tags;

A list of people who will benefit from these professional labels is long:

    • DIY/clothing crafters at home, 
    • textile/sewing enthusiasts,
    • (small/starting) clothing brands,
    • fashion designers, 
    • owners and managers of hotels, bars, and hospitality businesses, 

and others who want to customize their textile, clothing (do you know all types of clothes you can work on), towels, sheets, and accessories.

How to knot embroidery thread

Opinions regarding how to start embroidery needle experience on your embroidery fabric are divided.

In “How To Start And Finish Your Embroidery Thread” on Polka Dots N Blooms, Heidi writes that “traditionally using knots to start and finish your embroidery thread is a big no-no.”

How to knot embroidery thread
Image source: Polka Dots N Blooms

According to the author, you should instead start:

    1. with a holding stitch,
    2. with a waste knot,

and finish

    1. with a reverse holding stitch, or
    2. by weaving the thread;

Read “How to Start and End an Embroidery Thread Without Knots” on The Spruce Crafts

Threading needle for embroidery
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

So, what is the problem with knots?

Knots are unnecessary in any embroidery project because there are many alternative and more aesthetic ways to secure the ends.

You want to avoid making the backside of a project untidy and bumpy and remove a distasteful tail.

Knots can also appear harmful to your project when they unravel with use or laundering, causing your ideally tailored rose embroidery to lose precious stitches over time.

On the other hand, the best way to start a thread is with a knot, but these are temporary knots, such as away knots and waste knots.

How to use embroidery floss
Image source: Pinterest 

Yet, there is no pressure to choose alternatives to knots that are unknown to you. 

Just tie a basic sewer’s knot onto the end of your thread, and don’t worry that you aren’t the most innovative crafter. You don’t have to be.

It’s OK to go for the method that you are most comfortable with. 

The only thing to have in mind is how you will use a ready piece of embroidery and how those knots will look from the front.

Read about “4 Ways to Finish Embroidery Hoops” on Embellished Elephant and our take on embroidery on canvas.  

How to tie embroidery thread
Image source: Embellished Elephant

The quick instruction for forming a knot is making a teardrop shape at the end of a thread, wrapping the end of the thread under and through the teardrop, and then pulling it tight.

If you are sewing with 

    • Six strands of thread—a single knot should suffice, 
    • Smaller amounts of thread—make a double or triple knot to ensure that your thread will not pull out the back when you start stitching;

How to tie embroidery floss guide
Image source: WikiHow

Tying the knot the best way, here we come:

    1. Hold the thread between your thumb and index finger.
    2. Wrap a loop of thread completely around the tip of your opposite index finger (close to the base of your fingernail).
    3. Close your thumb over the loop.
    4. Keep the thread taut and use your thumb to roll the loop towards the end of your index finger.
    5. As it slides off, step on the loop with your middle finger and hold while you pull the thread into a tight knot.

For pictures of the process above, go to Sew4Home, and if you are hungry for more stitching-related knowledge, click on

How to start embroidery threads
Image source: Craftsy