How to Use a Needle Threader

person sewing with needle and thimble

 

Westend61 / Getty Images 

Overview
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Threading a needle can often be a headache. That's where a needle threader can save you some time and agony. A needle threader is a device that can assist a person in putting their sewing thread through the eye of their needle. It's a simple, inexpensive device that's quick and easy to use. And while several varieties of needle threaders exist, the most common type consists of a diamond-shaped, thin, and flexible wire attached to a coin-shaped handle that's made of either metal, plastic, or wood.

Needle threaders can be found in the sewing section of most craft stores, and they often accompany a package of sewing needles. Sometimes they even come with covers to protect the wire section of the threader. But what needle threaders often lack is proper instructions on how to use them. So if you don't already have a needle threader or yours has been sitting in the bottom of your sewing box because you're not quite sure how to use it, now is the time to learn. Follow these three simple steps for how to use a needle threader.

Tip

For better visibility when you're threading a needle, put something white behind it. That might just mean holding your hands over a piece of plain white paper or an index card as you thread the needle. The white will contrast with the needle (and the needle threader if you're using one) and allow you to see the details of the task more easily.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Needle
  • Needle threader

Materials

  • Thread

Instructions

  1. Place the Wire Through the Eye of the Needle

    Hold the handle of the needle threader between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand. Then, insert the diamond-shaped threader wire through the eye of the needle, bringing the needle into contact with the threader handle. 

    a needle threader with a needle
    Debbie Colgrove
  2. Loop the Thread Through the Needle Threader Wire

    Continue to hold the needle against the handle of the needle threader, so the threader wire is open. Next, place the sewing thread through the needle threader wire, and pull it through to form a small loop.

    demonstrating how to use a needle threader
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Pull the Thread Through the Eye of the Needle

    Hold the thread with one hand, making sure the loop doesn't fall off the threader wire. Then, with your other hand, gently pull the needle away from the threader handle and back up the wire. When you pull the needle completely off the wire, the thread will pass through the eye of the needle. Thus, your needle will be threaded. Simply knot your thread, and you are ready to sew.

    pulling thread through a needle threader
    Debbie Colgrove

The History of Needle Threaders

It's unclear when the first needle threader was invented, but they certainly date back to the Victorian era. Many examples of needle threaders with the queen's head stamped into the tin handle still exist today. In the early 1900s, several models also were patented in the United States.

In more recent years, needle threader attachments have been included on modern sewing machines. (Juki designed the first in 1978.) Moreover, some modern needle threaders for hand-sewing now feature miniature LED lights to make seeing what you're doing much more manageable. Still, the basic version hasn't changed much since its origin, proving how effective it can be.