Q & A: Threading a Sewing Machine Needle

Question: How can a sewing machine needle be threaded without sight?

There are numerous types of needle threaders on the market. Some work better than others. The two favorites for my students and myself are the 1-inch-wire-loop attached to a guitar-pick-style-handle or the wire “4-inch-one-step-looped” threader. The latter is similar to a dental floss threader. These are preferred because of the size of the wire loops and their durability compared to others. These thin wire loop needle threaders work for hand sewing needles as well. Below are the instructions for threading a sewing machine needle.

May your threading be less frustrating, no matter what amount of vision loss and lighting is available.

Keep on enjoying needle arts without sight.

Threading the Needle

Supplies Needed:

Sewing Machine Needle appropriate for project

Thread appropriate for project

Needle Threaders: “4-inch-one-step-looped” threader or

1-inch-Wire-Loop with Handle Threader

Directions

To prevent jamming your finger into the needle, locate the needle bar screw with left index finger. Come from the underside of the center open space of the machine, go to the left down toward the needle. Check that the screw is in the full up position. If not, use the right hand to turn the cog/fly wheel towards you to move the needle to the full up position.

Follow the threading instructions for your particular sewing machine model to the hook at the top of the needle. If you misplace the thread in the process of threading the needle, pinch at the top of the needle to locate the thread coming through this hook.

Check that the needle is inserted correctly in the machine. Roll the machine needle between your fingers to feel its shape. Notice the thicker top end has a flat side. While the thinner pointed end dips about 1/8-inch from the sharp tip where the eye of the needle is.

For most sewing machines, insert the needle’s thicker end with the flat side facing toward the back of the machine. The exception would be the older Singer machines that insert with the flat side facing toward the left.

Once the needle is inserted. Gently feel the backside of the needle. Slide index finger behind and down the needle to feel for a slight dip or concave portion of the needle. This is the eye of the needle. The front of the needle has a channel or groove that runs vertically on the needle down to the eye.

Keep index finger in this area on the needle. Shift index finger from the back of the needle around to the side of the needle. While index finger is still at this place on the needle, bring the needle threader against the finger. This finger is to help guide/align the threader into the eye of the needle. Use one of the following instructions depending on which needle threader is used.

Option #1: Using the 4-inch-looped threader

Once the machine is threaded up to the hook above the needle, have about six inches of a thread tail. Place about four inches of the thread tail end through the 4-inch loop. Do this first before trying to put the threader through the eye of the needle. The reason being, once the threader is inside the eye you don’t want to pull the threader out as you are putting the thread through the loop. Thus, having to start again.

Then proceed with the index finger locating the concave portion at the back of the needle. Shift the finger to the side of the needle in this area. Next have the non-looped end of the threader slide against the finger toward the eye of the needle from front to back of the needle. Keep pushing the threader forward. Feel for the end of the threader on the backside of the needle. Continue by pulling the threader straight back through the eye to draw the thread end completely through the needle eye. Once the threader is out, make sure the thread is through the eye and out of the threader. Double-check that the thread did not loop under the tip of the needle. Do this by feeling if the thread is coming straight down the front of the needle into the eye rather than twisting around the needle tip. The last step is to place the thread through and under the pressure foot toward the back of the machine; be sure to clear the toes of the foot. Check that thread is not wrapped around the pressure foot. This prevents tangles or thread holdups.

Option #2: Using the 1-inch-Wire-Loop with Handle Threader

This threader needs to be entering the needle from the backside of the needle. Once the machine is threaded up to the hook above the needle, have about six inches of a thread tail. Proceed with the index finger carefully locating the concave portion at the back of the needle. Shift the index finger to the side of the needle at this area of the needle. Next have the looped end of the threader slide against the finger toward the eye of the needle from back to front of the needle. Keep pushing the threader forward till it stops. Feel for the loop in front of the needle. Hold on to the loop while putting the thread end into the loop.

If it is difficult to insert the thread end into the loop, try rubbing the thread end into the loop. Or wrap the thread around a glass-head straight pin or the hook end of a fine crochet hook. Put the pin or hook through the wire loop to pull the thread through the loop. When the thread is through the loop, pull the threader out of the needle from the back of the needle to draw the thread through the eye from front to back. Once the needle threader is out, make sure the thread is through the eye and out of the threader. Double-check thread did not loop under the tip of the needle. Do this by feeling if thread is coming straight down the front of the needle into the eye rather than twisting around needle tip. The last step is to place thread through and under the pressure foot toward the back of the machine; be sure to clear the toes of the foot. Check that thread is not wrapped around the pressure foot. This prevents tangles or thread hold-ups.

Resources

Annie’s, 1 Annie lane, Big Sandy, TX 75755, Phone 800-582-6643, www.AnniesCatalog.com For: 4-inch-one-step-looped needle threader item #147470.

Berkeley Sewing and Vacuum, 2108 Berkeley Way, CA 94704, Phone 510-540-6248. For: 1-inch-loop with handle needle threader.

Laci’s, Store & Museum, 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703, Phone 510-843-7290 For: various types and sizes of needle threaders.

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