How to Thread a Needle

The first thing you want to do when you’re threading a needle is get the right amount of thread. My favorite way to get the right amount of thread is to unwind the thread while holding the bobbin (which is the tube the thread is wrapped around) in one hand and pinching the end of the thread in the other. I stretch my arms out all the way, then cut off a piece of thread with sewing scissors.

stretching thread

Here, you can see me unwinding thread from a lime green spool (top) and yarn from a white spool (bottom).

Next, I’ll get my needle ready. I like to make sure that the end of my thread is nice and smooth. If it is frayed (as it is in the first frame below), it will harder to get it through the eye (or hole) of the needle.


A frayed piece of thread gets a snip to make it smooth.

Threading a needle might be easier to do than you think it is. One way to get a lot of control over where the thread is going is to hold it right up at the tip, with only a tiny bit of room between the needle and the fingers that are pinching the tread. If you hold the thread too far back and then try to put it through the eye of the needle, the thread may bend and fall out of the hole (just as it did in the second frame below). Sometimes, I’ll stick the needle in a bobbin or a piece of Styrofoam to hold it steady while I focus on putting the thread through it.

bendy fake

Only pinch a little bit of thread so you can poke it right through.

Once your thread is through the eye of the needle, keep pulling it until you match it up with the other end of the thread. Then, pinch the two ends together so they become one piece of double thread. A double thread will be stronger than a single thread when you’re sewing.

pull and wrap

Pull it through, line up the ends, and pinch them together.

As you’re pinching the ends of your double thread together between your thumb and pointer finger, use your other hand to gently but firmly wrap the rest of the thread around the tip of your finger–but not so close to the tip that it will fall off your finger as you’re wrapping. Once you’ve created three or four loops around your finger, use your thumb and pointer finger to roll the loops together into one big, twisty loop.

wind and roll

Wrapping and rolling can take practice, but it’s a good trick to know if you want to make a big knot.

Once you have your twisty loop, let go of it and hold your needle straight up in the air so that the loop is hanging in front of you. You can then pinch the thread right above the loop, dragging your fingers downward over it, and–voilà!–you have a big knot that will (almost) guarantee that your thread won’t slip through your fabric while you’re sewing.


Pinch, slide down, and make your knot!


Congratulations! You’re ready to sew!

Molly joined the MAKESHOP team in November 2013.

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