How to Thread a Needle the Easy Way

Needle with red thread and red fabric.

iluvsws_ptv/Twenty20

Getting that limp piece of thread through the eye of a needle can seem like a challenge. Threading a sewing needle shouldn't take up your valuable sewing time, and it shouldn't be frustrating. Eye magnifiers can help, but that won't do much for a strand of thread that seems to have a mind of its own. Follow these simple tips and tricks to make threading a sewing machine or hand-held needle a breeze.

Illustration of how to thread a sewing needle.
The Spruce / Maritsa Patrinos
  • 01 of 10

    Put White Behind the Needle

    Knitting needles placed in yarn.

    CC0 Public Domain/PXHere.com 

    Whether you’re threading a sewing machine needle or a hand-held sewing needle, put something white behind it. The white contrasts with the needle and the thread to make the eye more visible. Keep a small piece of index card pinned to your pincushion. That way the card is always available to place behind the eye of a needle when you're threading. 

  • 02 of 10

    Add a Dab of White-Out

    Woman preparing a sewing machine to stitch fabric.

    Airman 1st Class Torri Ingalsbe/U.S.A.F.

    Newer sewing machines may have a white presser foot holder. If your machine has the standard silver presser foot holder, it could be tough to thread a needle, unless you have a built-in automatic needle threader. As a fix, put a dab of liquid paper or white-out on the foot holder right behind the needle. Allow it to dry completely before sewing fabric. If you don't have liquid paper, use a sliver of plain white labeling behind the needle.

  • 03 of 10

    Cut the Thread With Sharp Scissors

    Four pairs of sewing scissors.

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Always use sharp scissors to cut the thread. A clean-cut thread is always easier to get through the eye of a sewing needle than a fuzzy shredded thread. Using quality thread also makes the task much easier.

  • 04 of 10

    Cut the Thread at an Angle

    Person cutting thread at an angle.

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Cut the thread at a 45-degree angle. The thicker the thread, the more angled the cut needs to be to avoid shredding. Even if you can't see the angle, it'll make it much easier to guide the thread through the eye of the needle.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Stiffen the Thread

    Person rubbing beeswax to stiffen sewing thread.

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Stiffen the end of a limp piece of thread with a drop of water, saliva, or beeswax. It'll make it easier to control and guide the thread through the eye. Only use beeswax with thread for a hand-held sewing needle. Avoid using it with a sewing machine needle or it'll gum up the mechanism. Use candle wax in a pinch. Simply drag the thread through the piece of wax. Stiffening is especially helpful when working with mediocre or poor quality of thread.

  • 06 of 10

    Use a Needle Threader

    Wire loop needle threader.

    Shappy via Amazon.com 

    A needle threader usually comes with a package of assorted hand-held sewing needles. You can buy them separately from the sewing notions section of your fabric store. That little looped wire gives you a big eye to thread through even if your sewing needle has a tiny eye. You can always use a needle threader with a machine needle, as well.

  • 07 of 10

    Use the Built-In Needle Threader

    Sewing machine needle threader with yellow thread.
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Even with the best lighting, it can be hard to get up close and thread a sewing machine needle. But a built-in needle threader, available on many mid-priced to more expensive sewing machines, is invaluable. The automatic needle threading option can range from a pull-down lever that you control to a push-button feature that makes the machine do all the work for you. 

  • 08 of 10

    Use Tweezers

    Person holding serger threading tweezers

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Tweezers can help hold steady an unruly piece of thread. Consider looking for longer bent handle tweezers that are used for threading a serger. They can work just as well to hold the thread while threading any hand-held sewing needle. In a pinch, use regular tweezers with slanted edges to grip the end of the thread so you can slip it through the eye of the needle.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Use a Droplet of Water

    Threading a sewing machine needle.
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Try some magic by manipulating the thread through the eye of the needle using water. Put a drop of water on your thumb or forefinger. Put your wet finger near the side of a hand-held needle where the thread should come through. Keep your finger close to the eye of the needle with enough room for the thread to maneuver through. The droplet works like a magnet to draw the thread through the eye of the needle.

  • 10 of 10

    Use the Right Size Eye

    Eye of a needle with three colors of thread: magenta, green, and black.

    Barney Moss/Flickr.com/CC BY 2.0

    If you're trying to squeeze a thick thread through a small eye, you'll almost certainly end up with a shredded end. Fine bobbin thread, for example, works well with a small needle eye. Thicker button and carpet thread need a needle with a larger eye to easily accept the thread. Using the right eye for the size thread also prevents damaging or snapping the thread while you're sewing.