<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://ct.pinterest.com/v3/?event=init&tid=2613186133853&pd[em]=&noscript=1" /> Skip to Content

How To Use A Needle Threader For Sewing Machine And Hand Sewing

When the woman heard that I always use a needle threader to thread my sewing machine needle, her eyes lit up. “Oh, I used to sew all the time, ” she said. “But then my eyes got bad and my hands got shaky to even thread my sewing machine. It became so frustrating to try, that I had to give it up. I sure do miss it though!” One of the neatest things I’ve ever done was help this sweet woman rediscover her love for sewing. 

With a simple, inexpensive gadget called a needle threader, she was able to once again use her sewing machine. If she had known how to use a needle threader for sewing machine needles, she wouldn’t have wasted so much time missing out on expressing herself creatively with needle and thread. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t sew if you can’t thread a needle! There are so many ways to get around this issue, and I will fill you in on needle threaders so you can sew without this problem!

tutorial on needle threaders for sewing machines and hand sewing

What Is a Needle Threader?

A needle threader is an inexpensive tool that will help you thread a needle easily even if your vision is poor or your hands are a bit shaky. There are many different kinds of needle threaders, but each one will assist you in threading your needle with no frustration, well, almost no frustration, because some needle threaders might frustrate you as well. You can use a needle threader for a sewing machine or for hand sewing.

There are several different types of needle threaders available, but most work in a similar way. The threader typically consists of a thin wire or hook attached to a handle. To use it, you simply insert the wire or hook through the eye of the needle and then thread the end of the thread through the wire. Finally, you pull the wire back through the eye of the needle, and the thread should be pulled along with it.

Why Use a Needle Threader Tool?

A needle threading tool can make threading your needles easy. Instead of snipping the thread, wetting the end, and trying to jab the thread into the eye of the needle, you can use this tool to make the process simple and quick.

Most of us don’t like to think about getting older, but as we age, certain things that were simple when we were younger can become much more difficult. One of the things that starts getting tricky is eyesight. Suddenly, the words on a page get blurrier and small things like the eyes of our sewing needles get smaller!

Actually, the real problem is that vision can be less reliable as we all get older. Even with the assistance of glasses or a magnifier, this simple, basic part of sewing can become so frustrating that, like my friend, you may be tempted to stop sewing altogether!

Another person may struggle with threading a needle because their hands are unsteady. In this world of computers and cell phones, many people have issues with their hands and fingers. These issues can cause the hands of even younger people to shake.

If you struggle with hand tremors or vision issues, a needle threader tool can help you keep on sewing. Even if you just find the process of threading a needle annoying, a needle threader will make this part of sewing a non-issue. In past years, people who couldn’t thread a needle either had to give up sewing or find someone to help them with this task. But with the help of a needle threader tool, you can keep sewing as long as you wish.

One of the main advantages of using a needle threader is that it can save time and frustration. Threading a needle can be a difficult and time-consuming process, especially if you are working with a very fine thread and needle with a small eye. With a needle threader, however, you can quickly and easily (most of the time) thread your needle in just a few seconds, allowing you to get back to your sewing project without delay.

Another benefit of using a needle threader is that it can help to reduce eye strain and fatigue. When you are struggling to thread a needle, you may find yourself squinting and straining to see the tiny eye of the needle. By using a needle threader, you can avoid this strain and discomfort, making it easier to work for longer periods of time.

In any case, a good needle threader should always be on hand for those moments that call for some extra help when you’re trying to finish a sewing project. 

Before talking about the needle threaders I have to mention the importance of having very good lighting of your work area (thank you, Bonnie!). I have previously written about lighting (Sewing room lighting ideas) but it does deserve mentioning again. When it comes to lighting your work area, save your eyes! And possibly your fingers😀!

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission if you order a product through one of my links. I only recommend products I believe in and use myself. 

Types of Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

When it comes to sewing, it’s important to have the right tools on hand. Two types of threaders that can be particularly useful are those designed for traditional hand sewing needles and those designed for sewing machine needles. The reason for this is that the two types of needles have different requirements for threading.

Now, let’s delve into a detailed discussion of needle threaders specifically designed for hand sewing needles.

There are several different types of threaders available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Some are designed to be very simple and straightforward, while others are more complex and may offer additional functionality.

Manual Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

Manual needle threaders for hand sewing are fairly simple and straightforward. They consist of a wire loop or hook connected to a handle or sometimes, a pressed metal tab. You slip the wire or hook through the eye of the needle, put the thread through the wire loop or the hook, and then pull the wire or hook back through the needle’s eye. And in a snap, your needle is threaded!

Many people are only familiar with the basic, cheap, metal needle threader that consists of a wire loop and a pressed metal tab. I always have a bunch of them and use them all the time. They break easily but they usually have a very thin wire that goes into the smallest needle eye without any problem. 

manual needle threaders

However, there are many others. You can find a retractable one with an LED light attached to it and a thread cutter built-in like this Dritz needle threader.

You can find needle threaders with a magnifier.

You can buy needle threaders with a plastic or wooden handle. You can even get one in sturdy metal.

And some needle threaders have funny shapes: flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, pows, etc. They are lightweight and easy to store, sturdy, and not easy to break.

Manual needle threaders work great on all sizes of needles – from quilting to beading – effectively streamlining your next project. 

Automatic Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

In today’s society, many things work at the push of a button, and needle threaders are no different. Automatic needle threaders are gadgets that can thread the needle by just pressing a button or flipping a lever. 

With one kind of needle threader, you will insert the needle with the eye poking into the hole in the gadget.

Automatic Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

The thread is placed into a notch and then you press and release a button. The thread is pushed through a hole in the threader, and you can pull it through.

Automatic Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

Then, when you remove the needle from the threader, it is threaded.

Automatic Needle Threaders for Hand Sewing

Clover Ultimate Needle Threader

The most popular needle threader of this type is Clover  Ultimate Needle Threader.

Understanding the Drawbacks of Needle Threaders

While needle threaders can be a useful tool for hand sewing, there are some cons that sewists should be aware of before deciding to use them. Here are some potential problems with needle threaders and some tips for choosing the best one for your needs.

One of the main issues with needle threaders is that they can be difficult to use for very thin needles with small eyes. If the wire or hook on the needle threader is too thick, it may not fit through the eye of the needle, making it impossible to thread the needle.

This can be incredibly frustrating, as a primary benefit of using a needle threader is exactly for relatively small eyes.

Another potential issue with needle threaders is that they can be flimsy and prone to breaking. If the wire or hook is not sturdy enough, it may become bent or broken after just a few uses.

This can be especially problematic if you rely on your needle threader for your sewing projects, as you may need to constantly replace it. For example, the automatic needle threader I described above got broken very quickly - the wire became bent.

Types of Needle Threaders for Sewing Machines

Sewing machine needles have a slightly different design that requires a different type of threader.

Manual Needle Threaders for Sewing Machines

These instructions are for the Dritz needle threader for your sewing machine

  1. The threader has a horizontal slot and a vertical one. Hold the threader with the hook on the top. Run the thread through the horizontal slot from right to left.
  2. Then, put the sewing machine needle in the vertical slot and gently press the threader toward the back of the machine.
  3. Slide the threader down the needle, pressing gently, and when you get to the eye of the needle, a small metal post will press the thread through the eye of the needle, creating a small loop.
  4. Slide the threader down the needle until it is free.
  5. You can then use the hook on the top of the needle threader to pull the loop of thread completely through the needle’s eye.
Bring thread across the “fork” from side to side

Some people complain that the threader breaks easily. I am not sure why it happens. To me the threader works just fine, I have had it for 5 years already. Of course, you have to be very careful with it – it has really small parts. Or maybe it’s the brand that matters – mine is from Dritz and I know this company makes awesome sewing tools.

I save myself a lot of frustration by having one of these threaders near my serger because serger needles are awkward to thread. This inexpensive tool makes my life easier.

If you want, you can use any of the wired manual sewing needle threaders for your sewing machine. Simply place the wire through the eye of the needle, run your thread through the loop, and pull the wire back out of the machine. Your needle will then be perfectly threaded with no headaches or hassles!

Automatic Built-in Needle Threaders for Sewing Machines

Some sewing machines have an automatic needle threader built into the machine. 

A built-in threader is a nifty feature found on many modern sewing machines that can make threading your needle a breeze. 

So, how does a built-in threader work? Essentially, it consists of a small hook or wire that is used to guide the thread through the eye of the needle.

Automatic Needle Threaders for Sewing Machines

To use a built-in threader, you’ll typically begin by pulling out the machine’s needle and lowering the presser foot. Next, you’ll engage the threader, which will position the hook or wire in the perfect spot to guide the thread through the eye of the needle.

pulling out the machine's needle and lowering the presser foot

Pull the thread down and under the hook or wire, and then release it so that it can be pulled through the eye of the needle.

The exact steps involved in using a built-in threader can vary somewhat depending on the specific make and model of your sewing machine. Some machines have very straightforward threaders that can be engaged with the push of a button, while others may require a bit more finesse to get the hook or wire in just the right position.

Despite these differences, the basic concept behind a built-in threader remains the same. 

Not all machines come equipped with this feature, so you may need to invest in a newer or higher-end machine to take advantage of it. Additionally, some sewists find that the hook or wire on their machine’s threader can become bent or misaligned over time, which can make it less effective at threading the needle.

If your sewing machine has a needle threader on it, you should read the manual to make sure that you know how to use it. 

Sewing Machines With an Automatic Needle Threader

Automatic Needle Threader Troubleshooting

The Threader Won’t Pull The Thread Through

If you are struggling with the automatic needle threader on your sewing machine and it isn’t working, there are a few things that you can do. First, make sure that your sewing machine needle is not bent and is properly installed. If the alignment of the needle threader and the needle is incorrect, it will not work.

Second, make sure that the machine is properly set up. If your threader is designed to work only when the presser foot is down, check that. Also, check that nothing else is interfering, like if the buttonhole attachment is in the wrong position or the needle isn’t in the wrong position. Go back and check every little thing to ensure that your machine is set up correctly for the threader to work.

Next, double check that your threader is designed to work with that particular needle size. Sometimes threaders don’t do well with smaller needles. This is something to discover in your manual.

Finally, examine the threader hook to see if it has somehow gotten bent. You can gently bend it back if this is the case.

The Threader Pulls The Thread Through But The Thread Is Frayed

Again, if this happens, check your threader hook to ensure that it isn’t bent. This could cause it to catch only a portion of the thread. Second, don’t use your automatic threader on heavy or metallic threads. You could be asking for headaches. Just thread these kinds of threads by hand.

Overall, needle threaders are a simple and effective tool that can make sewing much easier and more enjoyable. Whether you are an experienced sewer or a beginner, a needle threader can help to save time, reduce eye strain, and make your sewing projects more enjoyable. With so many different types of needle threaders available, it is easy to find one that will work best for your specific needs and preferences.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you need this information on needle threaders for sewing machines and hand sewing, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!

Needle threader tutorial

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Grandma Sue

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

The needle threader is one partofthe machine that is usually NOT covered by a warranty because they break so easlily. I got a $350. Brother machine on Amazon, but the threader was gone. I gladly take the $100. I saved by buying it. I used a touch of hair spray on my thread and wet the needle. Usually the thread cutter on the machine leaves a little fuzz at the end of the thread. I trim that, trying to get an angle as I cut. I have a small botttle of hair spray with a pump sprayer that stopped working so I slide my finger and thumb tips along the stem of the sprayer and apply the hair spray that way. Also, hold as small a "lead" of thread as you can. Get really close to the needle. And it threads easier. I love my Bernina; it has a working threader.


Wednesday 15th of February 2023

One hint I'd give when using an inbuilt machine threader is to make sure your needle is at the centre position. I was ready to rip my threader off the machine until I realised I'd moved the needle position to sew a scant 1/4" seam. I reset the needle position and no more problems.

Elizabeth E Chapman

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

You hit the mark on this one. I didn't have any idea there were so many. Thank you for this information.

Bonnie Clarkson

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

I appreciate your article. I didn't know there were so many types of threaders. I purchased the green fish, but I don't like it. It barely fits between my forefinger and thumb. I see you missed mentioning the importance of lighting to even see the needle hole. Thanks for a good article.

Olga Balasa

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Thank you; you are right, I missed that and I added the idea.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.