10 Tips and Tricks to Help You Thread A Needle
Imagine you've just carved out time for a relaxing session of crafting. You've gathered your supplies, have the perfect show to watch, and have just found the coziest spot. As you start on your hand sewing project, you struggle threading the needle. That dang thread just doesn't want to go through the needle.
It's frustrating! Crafting is supposed to be a relaxing past time. To make matters worse, this is the start of your project, how will the rest go?
I want you to stop stressing! Having taught embroidery workshops for a few years now, I know that threading the needle can be one of the most challenging parts of class. Here's 10 tips, tricks, and hacks to help make threading your needle easier so you can enjoy the fun part- stitching.
Are You Using the Right Type of Needle for Your Thread?
There are tons of hand sewing needle options and threads available these days. Depending upon the thread you're using, you might find one needle is more helpful than another.
A few important things to keep in mind when picking a needle are:
- Will my thread easily fit through the eye of the needle or will it slide out easily?
- Will my needle and thread leaves holes or damage my fabric when I'm stitching?
For thicker threads like pear cotton, sashiko, or when I work with all 6 strands of cotton thread, using a needle with a larger eye will make it easier to thread the needle. Some of my go-to larger eye needles include: John James embroidery needles, darning needles, and chenille needles. Thicker needles and threads are also great for thicker fabrics, like denim, canvas, and upholstery/outdoor fabrics.
Needles with small eyes work well for thinner or single strand threads. Using a smaller needle will help ensure the needle doesn't slide off the thread as easily. When using a small needle, I like to use these John James embroidery needles or these DMC embroidery needles.
If you're unsure about which needle will work best with your thread or fabric, or plan to use a variety of different types of threads, I recommend trying a variety pack of needles so you have options and can see what works best for you.
Did You Cut the Thread?
By the time you've measured and split apart your thread, the ends can be a little ragged. This can make it hard to thread the needle. Try aligning the end and trimming the thread at a 45 degree angle. This will ensure a clean, crisp thread end to glide through the eye of the needle.
How Are You Holding the Thread?
Hold the thread in your dominant hand. This is the hand you usually have the most control and dexterity. By using the hand you're most comfortable with, it will make it easier to thread the needle.
When I teach embroidery workshops, I often seen people holding the thread away so that an inch or more protrudes from their finger tips. They then often find that the thread wiggles and bends, making it hard the guide through the needle's eye.
The easiest way to fix this is to hold the thread as close as you can to the end of your finger tips. It might be harder to see the thread end, but your finger tips will help guide the thread through the eye.
Bring the Needle To The Thread
Do you bring the needle to the thread or the thread to the needle? By bringing the needle to the thread, you might find you have more control over how you thread the needle.
Start by pinching the thread at the very end of the length. Now hold the thread towards your body so you can see the very end of it. Then bring the needle's eye towards the end of thread. By holding the thread this way you can easily see where the thread is and line up the eye with the thread.
I feel like needle threaders often get a bad wrap. They're often geared towards kids of the older crafter, however, anyone can use them. And the great thing is, they're really simple to use too!
Needle threaders often have a hook or wire loop. Start by placing the hook/loop through the eye of the needle. Next, wrap the thread around the loop or place it through the loop. Then pull the needle off the hook/loop and your needle will be threaded,
They make plenty of cute needle threader options. Be sure to check out the type of needle you're using, because that may impact the needle threader you get.
When treading the needle through the eye, it can split apart. I've found thread gloss to be a helpful option for keeping my thread ends from doing this. Simply run the thread through the gloss before threading the needle. Thread gloss is beeswax, coconut and essential oil blend that acts as a conditioner for your thread. It's helpful for threading the needle, keeping your thread tangle free, and smells great. I have the Mojave Blend in my shop.
Other helpful options besides thread gloss include:
- Your saliva- Yes, just stick the thread end in your mouth
- Water- Similar to saliva. Just make sure the thread isn't too wet
- Hairspray- Not my favorite, but the internet claims it's helpful. Personally, I'm not a fan.
These sound a little like magic. Self-threading needles needles come in Y and spiral options. They have an opening by the eye to make it easier to thread the needle. They're somewhat similar to needle threads.
While many people find self-threading needles helpful, I'm not a big fan. Threading the needle through the self-threading portion can be challenging and the thread often breaks. The self-threading portion of the needle is also bulky, making it hard to use on certain fabrics.
Folding Thread Hack
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your thread can have a frizzy or loose edge. (I'm looking at your metallics and satins!) By folding the thread over on itself, you can create a clean, even edge to thread through the needle.
This is a hack a few people in my workshops have tried to teach me. I've never quite caught on, but those who use this one love it. I usually find that the folded thread is too bulky to thread through the needle, however, if you're using a larger needle or fewer strands of thread, this might be a good option.
For this hack, simply place the thread across your palm. Then rub the needle, with the eye facing upwards, across the thread. The continued movement will help the thread works itself into the eye of the needle.
Just be gentle with your palm otherwise this hack can hurt! I also found that this hack works best with fewer strands of thread, otherwise you can get a big mass of knotted/tangled threads.
I didn't even know this was a thing until my friend Rosalie of Monster and Ugly Baby sent me this TikTok. But according to Google, this really is a way to thread your needle. Because I was so curious, I gave it a try myself.
Start by using a new toothbrush. Place the thread on top of the toothbrush bristles. Then press the needle, with the eye facing upwards, so that the thread is pushed through the eye. Gently tug the thread so that the needle is threaded.
I found that this hack works great for few strands of thread and larger needle eyes.
Hopefully these tips, tools, and hacks to make threading your needle easier so you can enjoy stitching.
Let me know which tips you found most helpful!
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