How to Thread Your Sewing Machine for the First Time

by Leanna Levine | Last Updated: February 22, 2017

No sewing machine can sew without thread and putting thread in a machine may not be as simple as you imagine. The process can confound beginners at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be threading without even thinking about it.

1. Open the manual to the “threading” page

The first thing you need to do is open up your sewing machine manual to the “threading” page. Don’t be abashed if you need to check this page several times before you memorize it. It takes several steps. So keep the manual nearby to remind you of them the first few times.

Machines vary by manufacturer, so I’ll just give you the basic idea here. Check your manual for the specific steps involved for your machine. And make sure to follow the steps in your manual carefully.

Threading a sewing machine improperly can lead to a tangled mess of thread and even a broken needle.

2. Lift the presser foot lever

First you’ll need to lift the presser foot lever. If you find the thread won’t flow smoothly through the tension guide, it’s because the presser foot is down.

3. Turn the handwheel

Then turn the handwheel to lift the needle up to its highest position.

4. Slide your spool of thread onto the spool pin

Make sure the end of the thread is unwinding from the bottom at the front. Secure the spool on the pin with the spool cap. If you find your thread is tangling around your spool pin after you start sewing, the problem might be with the way you put the cap on.

Double check your manual and match what it says.

5. Thread your machine

The path the thread takes from the spool to the needle depends entirely on your particular make of sewing machine.

There will be a diagram in your manual showing all the guides and levers your thread needs to pass through, and the order does matter.

Be sure to hold the thread taught with both hands as you go. You don’t want it to get loose and loopy. That will lead to tangles and knots.

6. Eye of the Needle

When you get to the needle, you need to pass the thread through the eye. That can be kind of frustrating.

So here are two tricks of the trade that will help:

  • First, make sure the end of your thread is freshly cut.
  • Snip it with your thread scissors right before you’re ready to take it through the needle’s eye.
  • Then lick your fingers and dampen the eye of the needle, not the end of the thread.
  • The little bit of moisture will draw the thread right through.
  • Be careful to thread the needle from the front straight through to the back of the machine, checking to make sure it’s not twisted around the needle.

7. Add the Bobbin Thread

Once the top thread is done, you need to add the bobbin thread.

Sewing machines lock thread together from the top and bottom to hold fabric together.

All sewing machines have a way to wind thread around a bobbin, but different manufacturers use various methods.

So here’s another time to check your manual and follow the directions for winding and inserting your bobbin.

Once you have the two thread sources in your machine, you’re ready to sew!