How to Thread Your Sewing Machine

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Hey, you!

Can you believe it?!

You’re this close to actually getting to the fun part…

Sitting down in front of your sewing machine and practicing how to sew!

It has been quite been a journey! So far, you’ve learned…

Stay with me as we learn…

  • How to change your sewing machine needle
  • How to thread your sewing machine
  • How to draw up your bobbin thread

Let’s start with a few reminders…

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

Threading: The Rules

I know that I’ve shared these rules with you before, but they bear repeating…

Rule #1: Learn your machine. Learn your machine. Learn your machine. And the best way to do that is to read your manual from cover to cover! Then, keep it right next to your sewing machine always!

Rule #2: New project, new needle. Period.

Rule #3: When your sewing machine becomes demon possessed (and it will), make sure it is clean. Then, unplug it. Plug it back in. And rethread! This has successfully chased those sewing demons out of my sewing room nine times out of 10 so that I can get back to sewing.

But before we learn how to thread our machines, let’s learn how to change our sewing machine needle…

How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

This is ridiculously easy!

First, check the quality of your new needle by doing two things:

diagram of checking needle clearance

  1. Check your new needle for defects by holding the butt of the needle between the fingers of one hand and running the fingers of the other hand up and down the entire length of the needle’s shaft.
  2. Next, place the needle on a flat surface to check the clearance. The clearance between the needle and the flat surface should be consistent from the shoulder to the point. There should be no gaps! See the image above for clarification.

Yes, even a new sewing machine needle can have defects!

Now, you’re ready to insert your new sewing machine needle. And all you have to do is…

  1. Raise the needle to its highest position either by by either pressing the needle position button to bring the needle up. Or you can turn your hand wheel one full revolution towards you until the needle and takeup lever are in their highest position.
  2. Next, lift the presser foot.
  3. Now, turn the sewing machine OFF! Please!
  4. Place a small square of fabric or paper underneath the presser foot over the hole and feed dogs. You don’t want the needle to accidentally fall into the hole on the the needle plate as you remove the old needle and insert the new one!
  5. Then, remove the presser foot so that you can remove and insert the new needle easily and without incident.

how to change a sewing machine needle

  1. Next, hold the old needle firmly as you turn the needle clamp screw. You want to loosen it just enough to release the needle. (On my machine, I turn the needle clamp screw towards me to loosen.)
  2. Wrap the point of the old needle with Scotch tape and discard. You can store old needles in a used prescription bottle until it is full, and then discard.

old prescription bottle with the points of a straight pin and a sewing machine needle wrapped in scotch tape

  1. Now, hold the new needle with the flat side of the shank facing towards the back of the machine and away from you.
  2. And push the needle up into the needle clamp as far as it will go.
  3. Finally, turn the needle clamp screw in the opposite direction used in step 6 to tighten.
  4. Replace the presser foot. And you’re done!

Wasn’t that simple?!

Sew easy tip: And how do you know when a needle is past its expiration date? Well, you can hear it. That is, you will hear THUNK, THUNK, THUNK each time a dull needle pierces the fabric. Click HERE to learn about sewing machine needles!

The Spool Pin & Spool Cap

Your machine will have either a vertical or a horizontal spool pin or both.

On my Janome DC2014, it has a horizontal spool pin but provides an adapter so that I can add a vertical spool pin. See the image below:

horizontal and vertical spool pins

Spool Cap Size

Horizontal spool pins require that you use a spool cap. If you machine is designed with horizontal spool pins, you will get at least two or three spool caps in various sizes.

The spool caps makes sure the spool of thread stays put on the spool and plays nice as it rotates.

It is important that you choose the spool cap that most closely matches the size of the spool of thread. Like this…

matching spool cap size to size of thread spool

Spool Cap Placement

Also, remember not to jam it up against the spool of thread. Instead, make sure you leave just a tiny bit of breathing room, about an ⅛ of an inch. This allows the thread to unwind freely as you sew. Like this…

spool cap placement

Alright. We’ve covered spool cap size and placement. There’s one last thing I want to share on spool caps…

Threading your machine properly is critical to producing a lovely stitch or any stitch at all. Therefore, I recommend you ALWAYS check your owner’s manual on how to properly place the thread on the spool pin for your machine.

On my machine, when using the horizontal spool pin, the thread must unwind from the BOTTOM of the spool.

And if I am using the vertical spool pin, then the thread must be placed on the spool pin so that it unwinds from BEHIND or from the LEFT the spool.

How to Thread Your Machine (Upper Threading)

As I’ve said before, it is critical to thread your machine properly!

Because an improperly threaded machine can lead to all kinds of woes with unbalanced tension, skipped stitches, bird’s nest, and puckered seams.

And since I know that you don’t want any of that, you’re going to commit to learning how to thread your machine properly from the start.

Many sewing machines provide helpful diagrams right on the machine that tell exactly how to correctly wind your bobbin and thread your machine.

Please, please refer to your sewing machine manual to learn exactly how to thread your sewing machine properly! And if I remember correctly, your manual should be right over there next to your sewing machine…

But here is the general way it goes…

helpful diagram on top of a sewing machine of how to wind the bobbin and thread the machine

FIRST, lift the presser foot to OPEN the tension discs so that the thread to fall in between them! Do NOT skip this step!

SECOND, make sure the needle is at its highest position by pressing the needle position button to bring the needle up. Or you can turn your hand wheel one full revolution towards you until the needle and takeup lever are in the highest position.

Now, here’s how I thread my Janome DC2014

how to thread sewing machine - part 1

In step 4 in the image above, make sure the thread comes up to and fully into the eye of the takeup lever! On some machines the takeup lever is shy and somewhat hidden.

Okay, you’re almost home…

how to thread your sewing machine - part 2

When you arrive at the last thread guide by the needle (this is the needle bar thread guide), go ahead and lower the presser foot to give yourself a bit more space.

And then, guide the thread through the tiny eye of the needle from front to back. Or, you could use the automatic needle threader if you have one (see how in the next section)!

Done!

I know that it seems like a lot of steps. But once you’ve done it 10 times, you’ll see how simple threading your machine is.

Sew easy tip: Some machines come down the left channel and straight to the needle bar thread guide as shown in step 6. That is, there is not an additional thread guide located on the underside of the machine as shown in step 5.

How to Use the Built-in Needle Threader

If you’re lucky enough to have a sewing machine with a built-in automatic needle threader, first, please say, “Yay!”

This feature comes standard on many modern machines. And it is a favorite of mine!

FIRST, for this to work, you have to make sure that your needle is in the highest position before you begin. You can do this by either pressing the needle position button to bring your needle up. Or you can turn your hand wheel one full revolution towards you until the needle and takeup lever are in their highest position.

SECOND, lower your presser foot to give yourself more space.

THIRD, turn the sewing machine off!

FOURTH, with your left hand, slowly pull the lever of the automatic threader straight down as far as it will go.  It’s kind of hard to see in the image below. But if you look close, you can see that an itty bitty hook has entered the eye of the needle. (See the featured image at the top of the page.)

pull the needle threader down all the way

FIFTH, bring the thread around the needle threader and to the right as depicted in the image above.

SIXTH, as your hold the thread with your right hand so it is slightly angled towards the rear of the machine, slowly release the automatic threader. That tiny hook will pull the thread through the eye of the needle.

 

SEVENTH, see the loop below?! Just grab it with the fingers of your right hand. And bring the remainder of the thread through the needle. You want about 10 inches.

release the needle threader to bring the thread through the eye of the needle

Your sewing machine needle is now threaded.

Wasn’t that simple?!

Sew easy tip: This can seem finicky at first, but don’t give up. You can get it!

Drawing Up the Bobbin (Lower) Thread

This the final step to threading your sewing machine!

Once you’ve properly threaded your sewing machine, the only thing left to do is bring the bobbin thread up.

And this is super easy too.

Three more steps and your sewing machine is threaded:

how to draw up the bobbin thread

  1. Lift your presser foot.
  2. Hold the needle thread with your right hand and complete a single stitch. You can do this by turning the hand wheel one full revolution towards you. This will lower the needle and then bring it back up. Or even better and easier still, press the needle position button to lower the needle, and then press it again to raise the needle back up. At this point, you should see the loop of the bobbin thread.

Essentially, you are completing ONE stitch by lowering the takeup lever all the way down, and then bringing it back up to its highest position.

  1. Now, just pull the needle thread, and you should see a loop (see #2 above). This is the bobbin thread. Pull it completely through to the top side of the needle plate. Use your seam ripper to assist if necessary.
  2. Finally, pull about eight inches of both the needle thread and the bobbin thread under the presser foot and towards the back of your machine. Like this…

sewing machine threaded with bobbin thread drawn up and ready for sewing

And voila! You are now ready to sew!

Now, wasn’t that simple?!

Sew easy tip #1: Pressing the needle position button TWICE sews one stitch.

Sew easy tip #2: Some computerized machines will automatically draw up the bobbin thread for you when you take the first stitch. Now, that’s way cool!

How to Unthread Your Sewing Machine

Unthreading your machine is so easy too.

how to remove thread from sewing machine

  1. Make sure the needle is at its highest position by pressing the needle position button to bring the needle up.  Or you can turn your hand wheel one full revolution towards you until the needle and takeup lever are in their highest position.
  2. Lift the presser foot so that the tension discs are disengaged.
  3. Clip the thread near the spool of thread.
  4. Then, pull the thread out from the end near the needle.

That’s it. That’s all!

The End

There are four steps to threading your machine: (1) Wind your bobbin; (2) Thread your machine; (3) Insert your bobbin into the bobbin case; and, finally, (4) Draw up the bobbin thread.

Now, you can wind your bobbin, change your sewing machine needle, thread your machine, draw your bobbin thread up, and unthread your sewing machine. These are all critical skills for producing high-quality stitching and sewing fuss free!

So I recommend that you repeat the above until you are dreaming about them in your sleep and can complete them with your eyes closed.

How many times is that, you ask? Why 10 times ought to be just about right!

Next time we see each other, we’ll be learning about stitch type, stitch length and stitch width.

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all the essential sewing tools you need to begin sewing insanely pretty dresses!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about your sewing machine!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies!

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