Learning how to thread your needle easily is an extension of exercising proper sewing skills. A needle is a tool, and like any sewing accessory, it takes a lot of practice to develop solid mastery of the art required to thread its eye. Whether you are using a sewing machine or intending to hand-stitch your apparel, passing the thread through the needle is exasperating, and it comes with trial and error moments.
Your being here is a justification that you are fed up with vicious circles of licking, coaxing, and cutting the thread—all to no avail. Well, you are on the right track to knowing the hacks that work. Read through this piece to the end for a step-by-step process that will remove the guesswork from the whole ordeal.
Thread A Needle Step-by-Step
Step 1: Matching the thread to the size of your needle
Sewing threads come in a rainbow of colors and varieties of sizes. Also, as your needle gets bigger, so does the eye become larger. A perfect thread should, therefore, not only match your sewing requirements but also pass easily through the eye without sagging.
So, how do you pick the perfect thread?
When buying, the most important cue to look out for is the thread weight. Standard threads in the market come with weights to match; in 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, and 100 grams. Check on the bottom of your spool; you’ll see texts that indicate the weight of the thread you’ve picked.
A heavier thread has more rounds to it compared to a lighter one. If this logic is to go by, a 100-gram polyester spool contains a thinner thread while a 30-gram polyester spool contains a thicker strand. This assumption applies only if the material in both spools matches, as it usually is.
Here is the breakdown for the needle to pick for each category of thread weight.
- 100/16 needle size—30 weight
- 90/14 needle size—40 weight
- 80/12 needle size—50 weight
- 70/10 needle size—100 weight
- 60/8 needle size—100 weight of invisible polyester or silk thread
Step 2: Preparing the thread
How well you prepare the strand can make or break your process of threading. If the strand keeps dangling, missing the eye often, then you need to apply a combination of these two tricks.
- Cut the thread using a sharp pair of scissors.
Once you’ve picked the right thread for your needle, it’s time to prepare it handy for threading. First, cut one end of the strand using sharp scissors, making sure that it doesn’t leave behind a fraying tip. Do not use your teeth to cut the thread apart as it leaves behind a fuzzy shredded tip.
Better still, cut the end in an indented line at a certain angle. 45-degrees is ideal, especially when looking forward to hand-threading. Remember, the cleaner the cut, the easier it becomes to pass the thread through the eye without straining.
- Make the thread stiffer.
If you’ve been keen enough, you might have seen some people apply saliva at the tip of the thread before passing it through the eye. They are trying to make the tip stiffer so that it will not lag or fray. Some also apply saliva to the needle eye to make for effortless threading. These are conventional methods that work.
You can alternatively use a drop of water, beeswax, or candle wax for this procedure. Drag the thread through the beeswax or candle wax in a back and forth motion for about one minute. Wax also adds strength to the strands while at the same time minimizing tangling.
Step 3: Accurately pass the strand through the eye
Having done the above processes carefully, you shouldn’t find the process of passing your thread through the eye hard. But even with that, knowing how to do this is half the battle, and the tricks below will help.
- Find the grain of the thread.
This process is sometimes not necessary. But if you want to eliminate any hustle, it’s best to know the grains you are working with. Most threads come with either two or three grains.
The grain of your strand lies typically on the cut end. Using your hand, touch the strand and identify the part that feels like a nap of a fleece when you stroke it. Align the part to the direction of the thread end you want to pass into the needle.
- Hold an inch of your thread end.
Use the thumb and middle finger of the left hand, hold an inch or so of the end of the thread you want to slip inside the needle eye. Keep the strand as straight as possible—it shouldn’t be flimsy or floppy.
- Use your right hand to pass the needle.
Typically, most people pass the thread into the needle. This trick works but with a lot of effort. Hold the needle with your right hand while keeping the thread in your left hand, as explained above.
Keep your focus on the needle. Bring it closer to the tip of the thread while maintaining your focus on the eye of the needle. Do not move the thread lest it becomes flimsy. Instead, move the needle eye until the thread is way through it.
If you’re struggling to keep your focus, you may need a white background to give your vision an edge. A white paper does magic when placed behind the needle.
Step 4: Use other alternative means and tools
In most people, you will either find one or both hands shaking slightly, impairing their focus. This occurrence is regular, and it can happen to you too. If such is the case, any of these tools may be of great benefit.
- A Needle threader
A needle threader is your perfect savior, either when your hands vibrate or under poor focus. This accessory is straightforward to use, cost-efficient, and convenient for use with varieties of thread weights and needles.
Hold the needle threader with one hand and use the other free hand to hold your needle. Carefully pass the diamond-shaped head of the threader through the eye of the needle. Keep it lodged in.
Loop the strand of thread inside the wires forming the diamond-head. Once in, pull more of the strand to form into a tiny loop and prevent the thread from falling off.
Finally, use one hand to pull the needle up, onto the needle threader, then onto the strand of thread. The thread will seamlessly pass through the eye of the needle, ready to start you off.
- A built-in needle threader
If you are using a sewing machine, using a built-in threader is half the battle. Unlike hand-threading, a built-in threader is more precise and doesn’t need advanced skills to use.
To use this simple miniature device, rotate the machine’s handwheel to raise the needle to its highest point. Hold the strand of thread with two fingers and guide it carefully along its groove or thread guide. Pass the strand through the threader and into the hook.
Once done, release the threader in one swift motion. It will automatically thread the eye of the needle. Using a finger, stiletto, or a pair of tweezers, pull a good chunk of the thread from the back to roll more length through the eye of the needle. And you are ready to sew.
How to use a built-in threader differs from one machine to the other. Some vintage machines with wheels also lack a threader. Always check whether your device comes with this feature and if the manual contains any instructions for use.
- Use a paper
The paper is the least tool you can use to thread your needle, and it doesn’t need a lot of skills. Also, since you can find a piece of paper anywhere, this trick applies even in the remotest place ever. So it is your last savior.
Pick an A4 paper and use a scissor to slice a small piece from it. Roll the tiny piece of paper you cut over the tip of the thread you want to pass through the needle. Using your thumb and first finger, hold the rolled piece of paper tightly in one hand. Use the other free hand to hold the needle.
Carefully pass the paper through the eye of the needle. Once done, unfold the paper and pull the tip of your thread some inches further.
If your paper doesn’t go through, try using a smaller piece with few rolls. You can as well lubricate the tip of the paper before trying to pass it through.
Passing the thread through the eye of the needle is not a walk in the park. And since there is no one-size-fits-all method to thread any strand successfully, the process is even more confusing. Yet, that should not be the case.
If you have read all the steps and hacks we listed in this article, there’s a chance you found something helpful. Let us know what worked for you, and you’ll be sure to get a reply.