Never dread threading a needle again! Try one (or several) of these tried and true hacks to learn how to easily thread a sewing needle.
Threading a needle shouldn’t leave us frustrated. But somehow there always seems to be THAT piece of thread that just refuses to go through the needle. Sound familiar? Try one of these 14 tried and true hacks below to make your life easier. Also includes a tutorial for How to Use a Needle Threader (Tip #5)
These hacks work for both hand sewing needles and machine sewing needles. Tips #10-12 are Specific to the Sewing Machine and includes a tutorial for How to Use a Built-in-Needle-Threader (Tip #11).
Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Thread Needle Using a White Background
See how much clearer the eye is with a white background versus a dark background?
This hack works really well for threading sewing machine needles too. See how much clearly you can see the eye of the needle with a piece of white felt placed in the back!
Pin a sewing needle through a piece of white felt/paper and keep it where you store your needles. Next time you can easily whip it out when you need the white background.
Tip #2: Cut the Thread Using Sharp Scissors
Sharp scissors will leave a crisp, clean edge on your thread whereas dull scissors will cause the thread to snag and leave a fuzzy end that is impossible to thread through a needle.
(I’m using a piece of yarn for better visualization) You can see from the photo what a difference it makes to use a sharp scissor. Top thread is cut from a dull scissor and the end is fuzzy and round. Bottom thread is cut with a sharp scissor at an angle (tip #3), which makes is so much easier to thread!
Tip #3: Cut the Thread at an Angle
As mentioned in Tip #2, cutting the thread with sharp scissors at an angle leaves a nice clean bevel with a pointy end. This bevel keeps loose fibers of the thread together so you can easily guide the thread through. Even if you can’t actually see the bevel on the thread, you will notice the difference as you thread your needle.
Tip #4: Moisten Tip of Thread or Eye of Needle
Apply a drop of water at finger tip.
Moisten eye of needle with water droplet
Push the thread through. The moisture in the eye will draw the needle in as you push, allowing you to easily thread the needle.
Alternatively, you can also moisten the tip of the thread and this works just as well. You can use water or your saliva, although saliva is probably less hygienic. However, I will admit I usually just give the thread a quick suck to moisten because…Who has time to get up and run to the sink to get some water?!)…but the choice is yours.
Tip #5: Use a Needle Threader
Ever seen the tiny piece of metal with a person’s face on it and tiny wires sticking out in your sewing kit? That’s the needle threader, and it is oh-so-handy for those days when the thread is more stubborn than your two year old about going through your needle!
How to Use a Needle Threader
Stick tip of wire through eye of needle. (the pointy diamond shaped end of needle threader wire makes it easy to push through the needle)
Scoot needle away from pointy tip (towards the person’s face) and stick your thread through the pointy tip.
Pull needle onto your thread. Tada! You now have a threaded needle 🙂
Tip #6: Bring Needle to Thread
Normally when we thread needles we tend to want to aim our thread at the target (eye of needle) and poke it through (winner!). However, sometimes doing things in reverse can be helpful too.
Pinch the tip of thread tightly with your fingers and hold it still. Using your other hand, hold the needle and bring the eye into the thread. For some reason, this works when you’ve been fussing at the thread to go through the eye all this time!
Tip #7: Use Tweezers
Use a pair of tweezers to pinch the end of the thread and bring the eye of the needle into the thread.
Alternatively, hold the needle horizontally (so you are looking at the floor through the eye of the needle). Then, using tweezers to hold the pinched thread above, bring the thread down into the needle.
Tip #8: Loop and Pinch Method
I’m using embroidery yarn and a thick needle in the photos for better visualization 🙂
Make a loop around needle.
Pinch the loop tightly and remove needle, keeping your pinch tight the entire time.
Bring eye of needle into pinched thread and you are done!
Tip #9: Use the Right Size Thread and Needle
If you are trying to thread a tiny sewing needle with a thick thread (think embroidery floss), you will definitely have a hard time. Additionally, you will not only end up frustrated, the end of your thread will also fray and bunch up.
Using a wrong sized thread for the needle in a sewing machine will cause the thread to snag and break more easily. Choose the correct size thread for the needle and you will be in good shape. A good rule of thumb is that the eye of the needle should be at least twice as big as the thread.
Tip #10: Remove Presser Foot on Sewing Machine
Sometimes all it takes is to remove the presser foot from the machine so you can see better. Thread the needle as you normally would (using the tips from this guide), and put the presser foot back once you are done.
Tip #11: Use Built-in Needle Threader on Sewing Machine
Certain sewing machines come with a built-in needle threader. If you are unsure about your machine, check the user manual.
(if you can’t find a manual, chances you will be able to find it online).
Build-in Needle threaders comes in two types: manual and automatic. The automatic needle threader will align in place automatically (usually with the press of a button) so that all you have to do is to pull the thread in the correct place for it to help you thread the needle. Manual threaders requires you to manually maneuver the needle threader in place and align it correctly in the needle. However, both the automatic and manual threader works in the same way and is a very helpful tool.
The tutorial below shows you how to use a manual needle threader. However, the concept is the same as the automatic needle threader. Note there is a piece of white felt behind the threader to help you see.
How to Use a Manual Built-in Needle Threader:
A close up of the built-in needle threader shows a wire hook in between two metal plates. I’ve magnified the photo several times for you to be able to visualize this hook. It’ll be difficult to see this hook (or even the wire) when looking at the threader with the naked eye.
In order for the needle threader to work properly, you need to get this wire hook into the eye of the needle. You then pull the thread under this wire hook so the hook will “catch” the thread and pull it through the eye of the needle.
For the following photos, I’ve colored the wire hook (green), needle (blue), and thread (pink) for better visualization. Also note that most machines are built with the needle threader on the left side. Thus, you will be maneuvering the needle threader with your left hand and the thread with your right hand.
Pull the needle threader down and turn it towards the needle. The goal is to get the green wire hook into the eye of the needle. Don’t worry as you probably can’t see the wire hook because it’s so small. Just turn the needle threader so that the two metal plates are on either two sides of the eye.
Once the needle threader is placed around the eye of the needle, you will need to wiggle the threader up and down a little bit so the wire hook ends up going through the eye. You should be able to “feel” the hook click in place (as it enters the eye) versus feeling like you are bumping into something as you turn the needle threader into the needle. Don’t worry, you may need to do this several times before you “sense” that the wire hook is in place. Trust me, the more you use the needle threader, the more if will feel like second nature, so don’t be discouraged the first few times if it doesn’t work out!
Using your left hand to hold the needle threader in place, pull the thread with your right hand over and under the wire hook.
Now slowly release the needle threader with your left hand and you will see thread being pulled through the needle. If at this point the thread doesn’t pull through as you release the needle threader, it means the hook either didn’t catch the thread or the hook wasn’t in the eye in the first place. Simply readjust the needle threader, wiggling it until you sense the hook falls in place, and try again.
If your machine doesn’t come with a built-in needle threader, you can also use a regular needle threader, or try tip #12.
Tip #12: Remove Needle from the Machine
When all else fails, try removing the needle from the machine. This allows more access as well as a better view, and you can use all the tips mentioned to get that thread through! Just make sure you thread the needle from the front (round shank) to the back (flat shank).
Safety tip: Place both your feet flat on the floor when removing and putting back the needle. It is also a good idea to turn off your machine just to prevent any accidents. Needles are sharp and can cause serious injuries if you accidentally press on the pedal foot!
Thread needle through with the needle removed
Place needle back in sewing machine and tighten the screw by turning the knob away from you.
Tip #13: Use Paper as Makeshift Needle Threader
Did you know you can make a paper needle threader in a pinch? This trick works best for threading larger needle holes as you will need to cut a slip of paper that fits through the eye.
Cut a piece of paper that fits through the eye of the needle and slip it in. Then slip the other end of the paper through the eye as well, making a loop.
Insert your thread through the loop, and gently tug the paper loop and thread through the eye of the needle.
Tip #14: Stiffen Thread with Hair Spray or Beeswax
Stiffen the tip of your thread with hairspray or run some beeswax through. Can’t find any beeswax? Candle wax works in a pinch. The stiffened thread retain it’s shape better (even if you can’t really see it), which allows you to easily guide it into the eye than a limp thread. This also helps to keep the small strands of fiber in the thread together so they don’t stick out and cause difficulty as you thread.
Note: This tip is only recommended for hand sewing needles. Applying products and waxes on sewing machine thread can cause gunk buildup in the interior mechanism of the machine.
That’s all folks! I hope this guide was helpful for your needle threading adventure. Let me know in the comments below if you have other hacks for how to thread a needle, I would love to know 🙂