Learning how to thread a sewing machine might seem a little tricky at first, but once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be ready to start stitching in no time, whether you own one of the best sewing machines (opens in new tab) on the market or a more basic model.
The best place to start is looking at your sewing machine’s instruction manual and seeing if it has any helpful tips or tricks for threading the machine.
- Best sewing machines for beginners (opens in new tab): 5 machines to get you started with the hobby
- Best sewing machines (opens in new tab): For everyone from those just starting out to experienced stitchers
- Best sewing machines for quilting (opens in new tab): 5 picks for making the most thoughtful gift for loved ones
How to thread a sewing machine
The first step to thread a sewing machine is winding the bobbin. The bobbin thread should match the top thread that you want to use, in both colour and weight.
Remove the bobbin from the bobbin casing. This will either be a front-loading mechanism or most modern machines have drop-in bobbins.
It’s best to start with a bobbin that’s empty to ensure the thread winds evenly. Either discard leftover thread or purchase extra bobbins, so you have a stash of thread colours ready to use.
Place your reel of thread on to the spool pin, positioning a plastic cover that comes with your machine over the top to hold the thread in place.
Pull the thread to the left of the sewing machine and guide it through the thread guides. If your machine has a bobbin-winder tension disk, then continue winding the thread around this.
Take the empty bobbin and push the thread through a small hole in the top by about 3cm. Hold the thread in place as you slip the bobbin on to the bobbin winder, which looks like a mini spool pin at the front right on the machine. Then slide the bobbin winder to the right until it clicks into place.
Apply a small amount of pressure to the foot pedal to wind the thread on to the bobbin slowly. Once you’ve got an even coverage of thread, cut the starting thread end with a pair of scissors. Increase the pressure on the foot pedal and wind the bobbin until it’s full.
Cut the thread, slide the bobbin winder to the left and slip the bobbin off the shaft. Replace the bobbin into its casing, either dropping or front-loading into the slot and winding the thread through the casing – you’ll need to check your manual for this step.
Replace the bobbin cover and you’re now ready to learn how to thread the sewing machine to begin sewing.
Remember, before winding your bobbin, it’s a good idea to double check that our instructions tally with your manual. The general rules will still apply, but there might be a couple of steps that are unique to your model.
Now you have wound your bobbin, you can begin threading the sewing machine, which is often simpler than learning how to wind the bobbin. So, if you’ve made it this far, the next part’s a doddle.
To start, make sure your needle is in an upright position. To do this, rotate the large balance wheel on the right side of the machine towards you until the needle is as far from the needle plate as possible.
Place the thread on the spool at the top of the machine and keep in place with the plastic disk that will have been supplied with your sewing machine. Pull the thread across to the right and through or around the thread guide. If you’ve just finished winding the bobbin, your thread will already be in the right position.
Pull the thread down towards you and it should slot in the gap at the front of your machine. Wind the thread around the tension disk or groove at the bottom of the machine and then guide the thread upwards to the take-up lever. This is the metal hook that appears when the needle is in the upright position.
Now bring the thread down towards the needle, guiding the thread through any needle guides that it passes – this is a good time to refer to your manual and check you’re threading the sewing machine correctly.
Then thread the needle from front to back. Often, modern machines will include a needle threader to make this step easier.
Holding the end of the thread in your left hand, rotate the balance wheel towards you so the needle moves down and then up. As the needle comes up, pull on the thread in your left hand and the bobbin thread will be pulled up through the needle plate.
Pull on both thread ends towards the back and out of the way of the presser foot. There should be no tension on the threads and they should move easily when pulled.
You’re now ready to start stitching with our how to use a sewing machine (opens in new tab) tutorial.
You'll be a sewing machine whizz in no time at this rate!
Our in-house craft expert, Esme Clemo, has been working within the craft magazine industry for eight years, having turned a sewing hobby into her career. She's adept in a number of crafts, including sewing, papercraft, calligraphy, embroidery and printing and has also completed an interior design course with the University of Arts London,
There’s nothing she doesn’t know about DIY and interiors. Everything in her home and wardrobe has a DIY twist and she knows all the tools needed for getting the job done - meaning she has a very hands-on approach when it comes to testing out products for our reviews.