Tips & How To’s

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Correctly As a Beginner

Tim Parry


How to Thread a Sewing Machine Correctly As a Beginner

Threading a sewing machine is an easy task, especially if you have done it a few times before. However, it might seem like a daunting task for a sewing beginner and even put you off the sewing task. So, if you are looking to learn how to thread a sewing machine, this read is for you.

To thread a sewing machine is the basic starting point. To thread your sewing machine successfully, we have listed a step-by-step guide below to help you start sewing. We have also included some additional tips to make the whole process of learning how to thread a sewing machine easier.

What is Threading a Sewing Machine?

Thread a sewing machine in simple steps. Threading a sewing machine is the process of loading an upper thread and a lower thread into your machine. Then, the sewing machine weaves the two threads together to create stitches in your material.

Every sewing machine is slightly different, but there are a few general steps that most machines employ. Therefore, check your sewing machine instruction manual before you thread a sewing machine. If you don't have a sewing machine manual, this step-by-step guide should give you an idea of the basic steps of sewing machine threading.

What You Will Need to Thread a Sewing Machine

  • Sewing machine
  • Small snips or scissors
  • Thread
  • Needle threader (optional)

1. Wind a Bobbin

The bobbin is the lower spool of thread for your sewing machine, and if you don't already have bobbins wound with thread, you will need to wind your own from an existing spool of thread.

a). Place a Thread Spool on the Spool Pin

Place a spool of sewing thread on your machine's thread pin, which is at the top of your machine. The spool should be turned to allow the thread to be released counter-clockwise.

Before you place your thread spool, check the top of your sewing machine for a diagram since some machines have a diagram on top showing where the thread spool should go. If your spool pin comes at an angle or sideways, place a spool cap over it to ensure it stays in place. The spool cap is found inside your storage compartment on your sewing machine.

b). Pull the Thread Out

Tug the thread to pull it out and wind it around the bobbin winding tension disc at the top of your sewing machine. This is the part on the opposite side of the sewing machine above the needle. The tension discs may also feature a small wire attached to them that helps hold the thread in place.

c). Load the Bobbin

Next, take the end of your thread and insert it through one of the holes in your bobbin and wrap the thread around the bobbin several times to secure it. However, if you don't wish to thread your own bobbins, pre-threaded bobbins are available in craft stores.

d). Put Bobbin on the Bobbin Pin

The bobbin pin is a small pin found on the top of your machine near where the spool pin is located. Place your bobbin on this pin and then slide the pin over to your right to lock the bobbin in place for winding. You should hear the bobbin pin click into place when you slide it over.

e). Start the Bobbin Winder

Start by winding the bobbin for several seconds by pushing down on your foot pedal or pressing the bobbin winding button down if your sewing machine has one. This sewing machine step ensures that your bobbin thread is wrapped securely around the bobbin.

After several rotations, you should stop for a moment and cut off the excess thread sticking out of the hole in the bobbin.

f). Finish Winding the Bobbin

Use gentle pressure on the floor pedal again or flip the winder back on and let it fill the bobbin with thread. When the bobbin is full, your winder may stop on its own, but if it doesn't, stop the bobbin thread when it's almost even with the edge of the bobbin spool.

g). Remove the Bobbin

Slide your bobbin pin to the left and remove the bobbin. The thread will still attach to the thread spool and also the bobbin, so cut the excess using a pair of scissors and leave a two to three-inch tail. When the bobbin is full, start threading your sewing machine.

2. Upper Thread Guide

a). Raise the Presser's foot

Start by raising the presser foot using the lever, and this is an important step because when the presser foot is raised, the tension discs open and accept the thread. This means if the presser foot is down, the tension discs will be closed.

When the thread tension discs are closed, you cant get your sewing thread inside the tension disc. This will affect how your stitching will look, and it will not look good since your sewing machine can't control the top thread.

You may also need to raise the needle to its highest position, and you can turn the handwheel towards you for this. It allows the hidden take-up lever to pop out for needle threading.

b). Place the Thread Spool on the Spool Pin

The spool pin is found on the right side of the sewing machine, and it's the larger of the two pins on this side. Place your thread on the spool pin and pull some thread away from it.

The spool could be more stable if you place it so that all the thread is coming from below the spool when you look down at it. If your sewing machine has a diagram, check it to see where the spool pin is located and which direction the thread should go.

c). Thread through your Thread Guide

Pull the end of your thread from the spool on the top of your sewing machine. Bring the thread across the top of the sewing machine and through the thread guide on top of the machine. This will look like a silver piece sticking from the top.

Ensure you bring the thread around your guide's backside and towards the front, where the U-shaped area is. Most machines will have printed guidelines on top of the sewing machine showing how to work the thread through this area.

d). Pull the thread through the U-shaped guide

Pull the thread down by following the directional arrows on your sewing machine and pulling the thread guide towards you. You will be looping the thread around the tension discs at the bottom, and then you should back up towards the top and through the second thread guide. This will create a long narrow U-shape with your thread.

e). Wrap your Thread around the Thread Take-up lever

At the top of your machine's second groove is a metal hook known as the take-up lever. After completing the U-shape, you should wind the thread around the take-up lever at the top and back down towards the needle.

The take-up lever is a metal piece that sticks out of the second thread guide, and it will have a hole cut out near the top that the thread will need to go through. Completing this motion or step will give a large narrow sideways 'S' with your thread.

f). Thread the Needle

Pull the thread back down the machine towards the needle and thread the needle through the small eye and pull several inches of the thread out on the other side. Pull this thread through the gap in the tiny metal presser foot directly under.

Some machines come with an automatic needle threader instead, so always check your sewing machine's manual for additional instructions.

The upper half of your sewing machine will now be threaded, and you will need to thread the lower half of your machine before you can use your sewing machine.

3. Lower Thread Guide

a). Remove the Cover of the Lower Compartment

The bobbin case is located under a small door either directly below or to the side in front of your needle. Locate the chamber and open it to find the bobbin case where you will need to place your machine threaded bobbin.

The bobbin cover should easily come off, and if it doesn't, then ensure you double-check if it is the compartment. Some machines will have a bobbin case with a cover where you should ensure you also remove it to reveal the slot for your bobbin.

If you look carefully at the bobbin case, you may see a small visible screw where the bobbin tension is adjusted, but you will rarely need to do this.

b). Unwind Several Inches of Thread from the Bobbin

Before you place the bobbin back to its compartment, pull the end of the thread to unwind a few inches of the thread from the bobbin. This should be enough to catch when you turn the handwheel.

Ensure you unwind enough thread to catch. Several inches is enough because unwinding too little thread and the thread may not catch.

c). Place the Bobbin in the Compartment Below the Needle

Check the diagram on the bobbin compartment to check your thread's direction. Then, place a bobbin into the compartment with the thread going in the direction shown by the diagram.

You should pull the tail of your thread to the right, and the thread should unwind easily. Close the bobbin compartment when your bobbin is in place and ensure you replace the bobbin case cover if your machine has one.

d). Expose the Bobbin Thread

The bobbin thread will still be under the needle plate below the sewing machine needle. To bring out the end of it, hold the round dial/ wheel on the right side of the sewing machine.

Turn it a few times towards you, and the end of the thread should pop out. Grab it and gently pull it to expose a few inches of the thread.

If the thread doesn't catch, you should check the compartment to see if the thread is headed in the right direction and ensure it moves easily when you pull on it. If it doesn't, then the thread might be too full where you may need to unwind some of the thread.

Why Is It Important to Thread a Sewing Machine Properly?

Threading a sewing machine correctly is necessary because it helps achieve attractive yet secure stitches. Although sewing machines are different models and sizes, the mechanism used to stitch a home sewing machine is the same.

The sewing machine makes stitches by combining the needle thread with a second thread coming from the bobbin. Understanding how to thread a sewing machine properly allows you to avoid buying crafts and instead make your DIYs and leather projects using your DIY kits.

Sewing Tips for Sewing Machine Threading

  • Always start sewing with no hurry to test your machine threading to ensure you experience no trouble threading with your fabric. Then, you can practice using scraps or samples or try to make a straight seam.
  • Use good quality thread to prevent excess lint on your sewing machine.
  • Change your sewing machine needle frequently.
  • Always clean and oil your sewing machine thoroughly before your run it.
  • If you have uneven stitching, then it means that the tension needs an adjustment.
  • Start with simple DIY projects and focus on learning, then master your machine's speed and stitch settings. You can start by practicing with straight seams on a fabric you don't intend to make something out of.
  • You may need to wet the end of a thread with a wet fingertip or lick your lips because a moist thread is easier to thread.
  • You can find little gadgets that will help with needle threading.
  • Use sharp scissors to trim the thread ends.

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Tim Parry

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