tailor threading a sewing machine seen from close up

We are witnessing the revival of sewing, quilting, embroidery, knitting and crochet in the 21st century. And it is not slowing down. Sewing is a craft, but it can be an art as well. Anyway, you look at it, it becomes a passion. And the longer you sew, the more reasons you find to love it. However, beginnings can be tough and overwhelming. Each baby step can be hard and lead to frustration. Threading a sewing machine is often a beginner’s nightmare. Even though you can find instructions on how to thread a sewing machine in your manual, it can be challenging. And there’s nothing worse than getting stuck at the first hurdle. 

So, I will walk you through some basic steps to master the technique faster. It is not really that hard, but it takes some time to make it a routine. If you don’t thread your sewing machine properly, it will cause all kinds of problems. You can end up with uneven stitches at best. Or your machine will get jammed, the thread can get tangled or broken. And you are just getting ready to begin! I guess it’s obvious why some people call it a nightmare.

Did you know that most of the people who quit sewing, do it in their first year? It shows that it takes some time to become proficient and skillful enough. But, also it shows that if you make it through your first year, chances are you will be hooked forever! So, don’t be too hard on yourself and keep practicing. “It is not about how many times you fall down. It is about getting back up and keep trying.”

Tips and Tricks on How to Thread a Sewing Machine

First, make sure that you use a proper high-quality thread. Low-quality thread tends to unravel making it harder to work with. Also, your upper and lower thread should be of the same type. Otherwise, you will have tension problems and possible jams. The same type of thread means the same thickness and material. Of course, you can mix different colors.

Trim It

Your thread should be sharp at the end to make it easier to thread the needle. You can make it sharp by trimming the thread end with sharp scissors. And cut it at an angle to make it even sharper. Just make sure that your scissors are sharp, otherwise, it won’t work.

Make It Wet 

Some people lick the end of the thread to make it stronger while others find it disgusting. Well, it is disgusting, but it is useful. You can actually spray it with a little bit of water, or even a hair spray instead. Anyhow, adding some moisture will make the thread stronger. And it will seal any fraying ends. 

Hold the Thread Close to the End

It sounds silly and obvious, but many people hold the thread a bit farther from the end, making it more difficult to insert it through the needle. Holding it close to the end, you get more control. More control means more precision and eventually easier threading.

Use Light

The thread is usually thin and the eye of the needle is minuscule. So, you are dealing with teeny tiny spaces and items. If your eyesight is less than perfect, it can be a daunting task. Dim light will make it even harder. Bright light is very helpful for such occasions. A bright lamp can make a world of difference. And if it has a magnifying glass, it will make it a breeze. 

tailor using light on a sewing machine

Automatic Needle Threader

This is not a real tip, but it is worth mentioning. Most of the new models of sewing machines come with an automatic needle threader. Actually, experienced sewists usually prefer to thread their own needles, but an automatic threader can be useful. If you are impatient, or you just want to reduce eye strain, you can use this function. You can also purchase a separate automatic needle threader.

Dritz Machine Needle Inserter & Threader 3/Box, Multi
  • Ideal for specialty threads
  • Needle threader reduces eye strain
  • Threads needles quickly
  • This will work for threading and inserting needles on any home sewing machine

Precaution Tips

When you learn something new it is hard to remember all of the details. So, this is a reminder to help you avoid silly mistakes. 

So, before you start, pay attention to a couple of details that can easily be forgotten. Always raise the presser foot. Also, make sure that your sewing machine is unplugged. Check out the needle. You need a needle of proper size and style to match the fabric you are sewing.

Threading the Sewing Machine

Upper Thread                   

Each machine is different so there may be some differences in the way to thread it. Still, all of them are somewhat similar so with a little help of your manual you should be fine. The bobbin winder and the spool pin are on the right side of the machine. The take-up lever, tension disc,  and tension wheel will be on the left side. And that’s all you need to thread the machine.

First, you should put your thread spool onto the spool pin. The spool pin can be in an upright position or lying down depending on the machine. The thread should be coming out towards the back of the machine. So, pull your thread across the top of your machine and pull it through the thread guide on the top of your machine( left side). Most of the machines have mini diagrams all along the way to help you do it properly.

Then, you pull the thread towards you and down, following the guide. On the bottom, you should make a loop around the tension disc and pull it back up. It will look like narrow ‘U’ shape. Then, you need to wrap it around take-up lever and get it back down again. So, you have a narrow ‘S’ shape. The next step is threading a needle. Make sure you thread it from the front to the back.

Lower Thread

Now, it is time for the lower thread. Place a wound bobbin into the compartment. Before that unwind a couple of inches from the bobbin. Look for the arrows to point the direction of the thread. It is usually counter-clockwise. Hold your upper thread with your left hand while turning a hand dial with your right hand. The needle will go down, then up and it will catch the lower thread. Pull both threads to the back slowly, and you are done. 

It wasn’t too bad, was it? I would also recommend that you use a piece of scrap fabric to test your tension and stitches. It takes some practice, but don’t worry, as eventually, it will become second nature to you.