10 tips for THREADING A NEEDLE the right way

how to thread a needle

Threading the needle without losing sanity

Frequent sewing has made me a little cross-eyed. And nothing to say about the frustration of threading needles. Not anymore – I have learned some tricks along the way which has made me an expert in starting off sewing without the swearing which was all too frequent earlier.

The age-old tried and tested way – First off, you can try threading the needle the natural way – squinting your eyes and passing the thread’s cut end through the eye of the needle. Before attempting this, you should cut the thread end at an angle so that the end is very thin – the 45-degree angle if you could with very very sharp scissors. Then pinch the cut end (edge) of the thread in between your forefinger and thumb and proceed slowly (stealthily) to the static needle

A suckingly cool tip – I would not advise anybody to do this, but disgusting as it sounds – this additional tip works; I simply suck at the cut end.  The moisture in the saliva bonds the fibers at the cut end and the sucking thins the rough fibers to a tapered shape and makes it easier to go through the eye faster and easier.

One disadvantage of this method is that the moisture may rust your needle fast. I have read somewhere that if you moisten the needle eye than the thread, it works better; never tried that though, as all my other ways work very well.

Now on to the more professional ways.

Threading Hand sewing needles

Select the right needle – Hand embroidery needles have longer eye than other hand sewing needles and hence are easier to thread.

When selecting the needle for hand embroidery you have to select the correct size because then only you can get the embroidery floss through the eye easily without much abrasion . If you select big needles for the ease in threading, you will be ending up with big big holes in the cloth. So you should aim for a  fine balance. Check out the 14 hand sewing and embroidery needles available for you.

Find the right side – Inspect your needle closely. Most of the needles will have one side of the eye bigger than the other. Thread through this side and you will find it easier.

Manage the thread Cut about 20 inches of thread – this length is said to be the ideal length to avoid tangles and for ease of handling. Longer and you may find that it is a little too much for you to handle without forming knots.

Coat the thread with beeswax for adding strength to the strands and to avoid the inevitable tangling of threads.

For hand sewing,  I usually use a thread meant for sewing machine, unless it is a buttonhole. Find a darker colour than the fabric if you cannot get an exact match.

There is no thread more difficult to thread than a Perle cotton – because of the twist in the thread it is the most difficult thread that I use – the thread is beautiful when used for embroidering but a pain to thread on to a needle.

Checkout the post on the different types of hand embroidery thread available – 12 types, with additional tips on how to use them properly. Checkout the post here about the right way to select sewing machine thread.

Find the grain of the hand embroidery thread – Cut out your thread and the first thing you should do is to check for the grain in your strand of thread. This will make your threading easier – a lot. Most often the cut end will be with the grain, but it is better to check for a good sewing experience. The on grain thread will pass through the needle faster and through the fabric even better.

If you have a very soft touch you maybe able to tell by just holding the strand between your fingers – like you can tell the direction of the nap of fleece by stroking it. The thread will feel smoother on the straight grain.

Hold the thread with a tweezer as you take it to the needle eye. You can have a little better control.

Use self-threading needle – These are easy to thread needles which makes threading needles a breeze – they have a slit in the eye of the needle through which you just have to slide the thread for the threading to be done. They are a boon to all those who struggle with threading needles. The main problem is to hold it when threading. You will have to finger feel the needle to find that slit. It is best if you keep the needle upright. I use a pincushion to keep it straight – you can use a rubber or cork too.

Use a wire loop needle threader – A needle threader comes with a thin wire loop at one end. Push this loop through your needle eye first.

thread a needle
Push the end of the thread a little through this loop. Now very carefully take out the loop out of the eye of the needle. The thread inside the loop will automatically be pulled out through the eye; Lo presto, you have a threaded needle.

Be very careful with the needle threader. The thin wire is very fragile. I have thrown a couple of broken needle threaders in the wastebasket – which talks a lot about my gentleness and carefulness. This small tool is very inexpensive but being gentle with your needle threader works to your advantage – you have this handy tool when you want it the most.

Use a paper piece –  The method I find the best when I am nowhere near a needle threader and which works just as well is to use a simple thin piece of paper to thread. You can cut a piece of paper about 1-2 inches long. The width of the paper should be smaller than the eye of the needle; It should cover the thread. Fold it in half and keep the end of the thread inside the paper. Push the folded paper through the eye of the needle. The thread inside (now sandwiched flat inside the paper folds)will easily slip through the needle eye.

After you have successfully threaded the needle make a secure knot at the end to prevent losing the advantage. It is very easy – just make the knot the following way and you will do it all the time

How to knot your thread

More ideas on making a thread knot and even doing without one can be found here – But the basic way is this.

Thread your needle with your thread.

Bring the end of the thread to the back of the needle ie near the needle eye.

threading the needle

Make twirls around the needle as in the picture or as you make for a bullion knot stitch.

easy way to thread a needle

Push the twirls down to the end of the thread, gently.

easy way to thread a needle

It will form a knot of its own.

how to thread a needle

Threading sewing machine needles

Checkout the post on sewing machine needles for more details

All the other methods mentioned earlier like pinching the end of the cut end and using a wire loop needle threader works with sewing machine needles as well.

Use Self-Threading Needles

Just like for hand sewing, there are easily thread-able needles available in the market for those with threading difficulties. However there is always this problem of the thread slipping out of the opening slot. 

Use the needle threader

Use automatic needle threader you get with most sewing machines – if you have one on your machine and haven’t used it, start using and you will find yourself hooked. Be careful with it though, especially during a sewing machine maintenance or sewing machine repair. It is very prone to be broken easily

You should be happily sewing rather than worrying about anything like threading the needle. Happy sewing

Related posts

Easiest hand stitches – 9 of them for hand sewing

20 basic sewing machine stitches you should know

embroider flowers

Comments 9

  1. I am grateful for all the helpful information available from the generous people who take time to put it out there. It is faster to read than to listen, text is searchable, and there are videos for those who need them. What a wonderful world we live in.

  2. Moistening the thread actually causes the strands to spread. Moistening the needle shouldn’t rust it unless you’re storing it in a cup of water. Cutting the thread on a 45 degree angle IS easier than the 90 degrees.
    Try spell check and grammar check. Also, have someone proofread for you before publishing.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Dale
      Moistening the needle doesnot rust – not true. I have a number of needles in my box to prove it wrong. I am not taking chances : )
      Maybe the quality of needles matters and yours are better.

  3. I thought this article tried and succeeded to explain very plainly points that books and others have passed over. It was written as if the writer was speaking to you in person. Please LaTrish be grateful the writer took the time to share her knowledge. We all can learn from others even if it is only one hint. I’ve been doing all types of hand and machine work for 60 yrs and I still welcome hearing others ways of doing things as some maybe better than my way. And again I was right..I did learn some tips here. Thank you to the writer.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sheri
      Thank you so much for the comment. I am very happy to hear that I could give something to a person with so much experience.

  4. This is a very poorly written article with not-so-great tips. For instance, there is nothing disgusting about moistening your thread with saliva, it is a tried and true method. If you cut your thread at an angle all that happens is that not all the strands will go through at once which messes up your thread, then you have to cut off the ruined bit and start over. Instead you want to cut your thread very cleanly at a 90° angle, not having any fibers sticking out.
    You say “For hand sewing I usually use the spool for sewing machine to sew, unless it is a buttonhole.” What?! This is so poorly written that it doesn’t even make sense! What are you trying to say?
    Also, worst way to make a knot I’ve ever seen, at least if you want it at the end.
    The grammar and punctuation are pretty terrible throughout the entire article. It’s somewhat difficult to read.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi
      I am sorry you felt that the post is impossible to read ; I see the grammar mistakes – it is not just the needle I have trouble threading it seems. : )
      “For hand sewing I usually use the spool for sewing machine to sew, unless it is a buttonhole.” That sounds vague, I agree. I meant to say I use the sewing thread meant for machine sewing for hand sewing

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