How To Thread A Needle: Pass Machine & Hand Sewing Needles Easily

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Do you know how to thread a needle? I don’t mean conceptually. That’s easy. Have you ever struggled with pushing a fuzzy thread-end through a teeny, tiny hole? Have you ever thought, there has to be an easier way? You’re right. In fact, there are several. We’ll show you seven. Yes, seven.

What You’ll Need to Complete This Tutorial

There are several different types of needles, and each has its own tips and tricks for threading. Unsurprisingly, each technique requires slightly different tools.

What sort of needle are you trying to thread? And how are you hoping to accomplish it? Let’s have a look.

Threading a Regular Hand Sewing Needle

Threading a Self-Threading Hand Sewing Needle

Threading a Sewing Machine Needle by Hand

  • Thread
  • Your sewing machine needle
  • Scissors or thread snips
  • Sewing machine needle threader (optional)
  • Beeswax (optional)

Threading a Self-Threading Sewing Machine Needle

Threading a Sewing Machine Needle With an Automatic Threader

  • Thread
  • Your sewing machine needle
  • Your sewing machine’s attached needle threader

How to Thread a Needle for Hand Sewing: 3 Different Ways

Do you have your tools? Right. Let’s do this. 

Method 1: Threading a Regular Hand-Sewing Needle

A hand-sewing needle is, of course, what you might carry in your emergency kit in case of a lost button. It’s a simple tool: a thin rod of metal with a point on one end and an eye on the other. The trick is to get the thread through the eye. You probably already know that it can be harder than it sounds. 

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You will need your needle:

needle wallet

your thread:

orange thread

a pair of scissors or snips:


your beeswax (optional):

beeswax for sewing

and your handy needle-threader (also optional). 

needle threader

A needle threader isn’t necessary, but it does make things a lot easier. This is especially true if your needle has a small, difficult-to-see eye.

Step 2: Prepare Your Thread

You could just try to jam your thread through the eye of the needle. But if you take the time to prepare the thread, it’s a lot easier.

First, snip the end of the thread at an angle. This will do two things. First, it will remove any fuzz or fraying. These are two of the things that make threading a needle difficult. Also, snipping at an angle will make a little point that will guide the rest of the thread through the eye.

snip thread

If you like, you can also smooth a bit of beeswax onto the end of the thread. This will make your thread end stiffer and straighter. And that will help it to go through the eye of the needle easier as well.

Step 3: Your Needle Threader

Needle threaders are cool little tools. They’re cheap, easy to come by, and they work a treat. 

How do you use it? It’s easy! The thin wire “eye” of the threader collapses so it can fit through even the smallest needle eye. So first, poke the wire through the eye.

thread needle threader

See how it expands once it’s through? See how nice and big the opening is? Put your thread through that.

threading a needle with threader

Now, pull the threader back out. The thread will follow. You’re done! Wasn’t that easy?

a threaded needle

Method 2: Threading a Hand Sewing Needle Without a Threader

A needle threader is a wonderful thing, but you don’t have to have one. If you’ve snipped your thread end to a point and applied your beeswax, the thread should go through the eye of your needle pretty easily on its own.

needle with orange thread

Method 3: Threading a Self-Threading Hand Sewing Needle

Self-threading needles, whether for hand sewing or for a sewing machine have a very small gap on one side of the eye. With a self-threading needle, you load the thread from the side. This means no cutting, waxing, or poking.

A self-threading needle doesn’t mean there’s no work to do. But the unique design of that needle’s eye means that the work is a bit easier. Here’s how you thread a self-threading needle.

Simply loop the thread around the body of the needle.

needle threading orange thread

Now slide it up to the eye and pull it down. The thread will slot easily into the eye from the side. Watch the entire process from beginning to end in the video below:

How to Thread a Needle on a Sewing Machine: 4 Ways

Just like with hand sewing needles, there are a surprising number of ways to thread a sewing machine needle. But first, you’ll need to prepare your machine.

Preparing Your Sewing Machine

Threading a sewing machine is a multi-step process that ends with the thread traveling through the eye of the needle. But before you get to that step, you’ll have to thread the top thread and the bobbin thread. Here’s how.

Step 1: Follow Your Sewing Machine’s Top Thread Threading Diagram

Every sewing machine model threads the top thread a bit differently. However, if you look at your machine closely, you’ll find a diagram that shows you the exact path your top thread should follow. The different steps keep the thread flowing smoothly through the machine, help to keep it from tangling, and regulate the thread tension.

Here’s the top thread threading diagram for my sewing machine.

thread sewing machine needle diagram

This video shows how to follow the threading diagram for a Brother mechanical sewing machine:

Step 2: The Bobbin Thread

The bobbin thread is the bottom thread. Every sewing machine will have either a top-loading bobbin or a front-loading bobbin.

For a top-loading drop-in bobbin, remove the bobbin cover. 

Now, slip the bobbin into place. Pay particular attention to the diagram on your bobbin cover. Some machines require the thread to come off the bobbin from the left side, while others require it to come off the right.

thread sewing machine needle

Now, pull the thread through the slot in the bobbin well. Pull it up and to the left.

You can watch the process here:

For a front-loading (or side-loading) bobbin, the process is a bit different.

First, remove the bobbin case. Then insert your bobbin into the bobbin case. Direction matters, just like with a top-loading bobbin. So be sure to follow your manufacturer’s directions.

Guide the thread into the slot, and pull it through the metal band. Now replace the bobbin case and shut the door to the bottom compartment.

This video shows you how it’s done:

Now you’re ready to bring the top thread through the needle.

Method 1: Threading a Sewing Machine Needle with an Automatic Needle Threader

Many modern sewing machines come with an automatic needle threader. The design may be different on different machines, but the function is the same. An automatic needle threader takes the fiddly part out of threading your sewing machine needle. 

You won’t have to worry about trying to poke a tiny thread end through a tiny hole. Likewise, you won’t have to bother with cutting or waxing.

An automatic needle threader looks like this:

automatic needle threader

So, how do you use an automatic needle threader? Again, different sewing machines have different designs, but the steps are more or less the same.

Step 1: Double-Check Your Top Thread

Have you guided your top thread through the threading diagram correctly? Yes? Good. 

Step 2: Open the Needle Threader

Many automatic needle threaders are spring loaded. To open the needle threader, find the button or lever and press it.

Step 3: Load the Thread

Most automatic needle threaders use a hook to either push or pull the thread through the eye of your sewing machine needle. In this model, I’m guiding the thread into the right position in the threader.

using an automatic needle threader

Step 4: Release the Threader

Now release the threader. It will guide the thread through the needle then return, automatically, to its place. It’s easy!

Check out this video of a Singer needle threader in action:

Method 2: Threading Your Sewing Machine With a Hand Held Needle Threader

Some sewing machines don’t come with an automatic needle threader. That can be a pain in the neck, but it’s not the end of the world. 

You can purchase a hand-held needle threader for sewing machine needles. Like threaders for hand sewing needles, these are cheap and easy to find. They work in a similar way to an automatic needle threader. Check this out.

Step 1: Position Your Threader

Hold your threader in your right hand, with the pointy bits facing to the left. The top hook should face up. The needle threader has a plunger, like a syringe. This should be facing to the right, with your thumb on top of it.

using a Machine Needle Inserter & Threader
Image is a screenshot from the featured video

Step 2: Insert the Thread

Place the thread horizontally through the Y-groove. Now, place the loaded needle threader against the top of the needle, above the eye.

Machine Needle Inserter & Threader in use
Image is a screenshot from the featured video

Step 3: Bring the Threader Down

Slide the loaded threader down the needle toward the eye, until the inner wire catches the needle’s eye.

Step 4: Push the Plunger

Once the hook has contacted the eye, press the plunger. This should push the thread through the eye of your sewing machine needle. 

Machine Needle Inserter and Threader being used
Image is a screenshot from the featured video

Step 5: Finish the Job

You were probably wondering what the little plastic hook on the end was for. It’s for pulling the thread the rest of the way through! Simply slip the hook through the loop and gently pull. You’re done!

You can see the entire process from start to finish here:

Method 3: Threading a Self-Threading Sewing Machine Needle

A self-threading sewing machine needle works on the same principle as a self-threading hand sewing needle. There’s a gap in the eye that allows you to pull the thread through without having to squint and poke.

Simply loop the thread around the body of your sewing machine needle. Then pull it gently down toward the eye. Now tug it sideways into the eye. Done!

You can see the process in action below.

Method 4: No Threader, No Problem

The last method is the most straightforward, but, let’s face it: it can be a pain. Nonetheless, there are ways to make it less painful.

Step 1: Prepare Your Thread

A fuzzy, frayed thread end can be a hindrance for threading a sewing machine needle, just as it can with a hand sewing needle. So prepare your thread. Cut the edge at an angle, and, if you like, add a dab of beeswax to the tip.

Step 2: Guide it Through

Now guide the thread through the eye. Many sewing machines require the thread to go in from front to back. Some, however, may require the thread to enter from the side.

Many Ways to Thread a Needle

Who knew there were so many ways to thread a needle? And who knew there were so many tips, tricks, and devices to make it easier? It all comes down to having the right tools and giving your thread a little bit of tender loving care.

Do you have a special trick for threading a needle? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

how to thread a needle

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