Tips and Tricks for Threading a Needle

Needle with red thread and red fabric.


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 time and it shouldn't be frustrating. Following a few simple tips and tricks can make the job a breeze.

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

    Put White Behind the Needle

    Knitting needles placed in yarn.

    CC0 Public Domain/ 

    Whether you’re threading a sewing machine needle or a hand sewing needle, white behind the needle makes the eye much more visible.

    Keep a small piece of index card pinned to your pincushion. Then when you are threading a needle, that piece is always available to place behind the eye of the needle.

  • 02 of 10

    Put White Behind the Sewing Machine Needle

    Woman preparing a sewing machine to stitch fabric.

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

    Many new sewing machines have a white presser foot holder. If your machine has the standard silver presser foot holder, tray a dab of Wite-Out on the foot holder, behind the needle. Allow it to dry before sewing fabric.

  • 03 of 10

    Cut the Thread With Sharp Scissors

    Four pairs of sewing scissors.

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    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.  If you are using quality thread this will usually make the task much easier.

  • 04 of 10

    Cut the Thread at an Angle

    Person cutting thread at an angle.

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Cut the thread at a 45-degree angle. The thicker that the thread is, the more you will see the angle cut. Even if you can't see the angle, it makes 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

    Stiffen the thread with water, saliva, or beeswax. It will be easier to control and guide the thread through the eye than with a limp thread. A poor quality thread that wants to unravel is usually helped with this method.

  • 06 of 10

    Use a Needle Threader

    Wire loop needle threader.

    Shappy via 

    A needle threader usually comes with many packages of assorted sewing needles but can also be found in the sewing notions section of your fabric store. That little wire gives you a big eye to thread even if your sewing needle has a tiny eye.

    Visit sewing machine dealers and sewing notion departments to see many new needle threaders available to thread hand sewing needles and sewing machine needles.

  • 07 of 10

    Use a Sewing Machine With Built-In Needle Threader

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

    A built-in needle threader is available on almost all upper-end sewing machines. The automatic needle threading option can range from a pull-down lever that you control to just pushing a button and the machine doing the work. If threading a needle is stopping you from sewing, consider making a bit of an investment to make sewing enjoyable.

  • 08 of 10

    Solve Clumsy Hands

    Person holding serger threading tweezers

    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Another option involves tweezers. Long bent handle tweezers are available for threading a serger but can work just as well to hold the thread while threading any sewing needle since they are larger than gripping a piece of thread.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Use Moisture

    Threading a sewing machine needle.
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Try a bit of moisture on your thumb or index finger behind the needle. The moisture works like a magnet to draw the thread through the eye of the needle.

  • 10 of 10

    Use an Eye That Matches the Thread Size

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

    Barney Moss/ BY 2.0

    If you're using a fine thread such as bobbin thread, use a needle that has a small eye. If you are using a thick thread such as button and carpet thread, choose a needle with a larger eye to accept the thread and prevent damaging the thread as you sew.