How To Thread A Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide

Learn how to thread up a sewing machine with this step by step guide. This is the first step to starting your sewing journey.

Sewing is a rewarding skill to learn. Being able to make your own clothes, homeware, and gifts is beyond exciting! You should be really proud and excited to embark on this journey.

How To Thread A Sewing Machine | Step by Step

If you are dusting off your sewing machine from the cupboard and no longer have the instruction manual don’t panic. Simply head over to the brand’s website and search the model number, you can find most manuals online these days.

If you are looking to purchase a sewing machine have a look at this model from Brother. This is a great, affordable sewing machine to get started with. I have been using the same Brother sewing machine for 14 years. It cost me under $200 and is all I have needed over the years. If you have a new sewing machine you will find a handy instruction guide on how to get started in the box.

If you need help figuring out what sewing equipment you need read through my essential tool guide.

Threading up a sewing machine does become second nature, it’s like driving a car. After a while you don’t think about doing it, you just do. Once you learn how to thread up your sewing machine correctly you won’t forget.

You will need to wind your bobbin up before you start threading the sewing machine.

How To Thread A Sewing Machine | Step by Step Guide

A few useful tips Before you get started:

  • Try to use trusted quality threads on your sewing machine to avoid any issues with threads breaking or tension. Sometimes sewing machines can be sensitive to cheap threads and you can end up having some issues when sewing. Brands I recommend are Gutermann, Coats & Clark, or Mettler. I personally use all of these brands along with many other sewers and find the quality to be excellent.
  • Follow the sewing machine manual if one is available to you. This will ensure you haven’t missed any steps in the threading up process. As I mentioned most sewing machines are threaded the same but some could have an extra step or two.
  • A sewing machine has a top and bottom thread. The top is where the thread spool will sit and the bottom is where the bobbin will go. You will need to wind the bobbin before threading up the sewing machine.
  • Make sure the sewing machine is switched OFF before you start threading it up. This is for safety.

I have a Brother sewing machine that is perfect for home sewing projects. If you have been following along with my free Beginner Sewing Series you may have noticed I am very fond of this machine.

I go through lots of the basic skills required to start sewing, in my free Beginner Sewing Series.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine

The diagram below will help you understand the steps and path we are going to thread up the sewing machine on. Each step will be explained in detail below.

Most domestic sewing machines have arrows or guides on the machine to show you each threading step. You will begin at the top and work your way down towards the machine needle.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
How to Thread Sewing Machine

Step 1: Turn Off the Sewing Machine

Before you begin threading up TURN OFF your sewing machine! This is for safety, as your hands will be near the needle and moving machinery.

Step 2: Put the Needle Up

Turn the handwheel on the side of the sewing machine towards you until the needle is fully up. Newer sewing machines often have a small line or mark on them. When this mark is visible at the top of the handwheel the needle will be in the right position.

Step 3: Positioning the Thread Spool

Begin by putting the thread spool onto the spool holder. On some sewing machines, they can be pushed down for storage purposes. If yours is down simply pull it up and place the spool onto it. You may also have a spool holder that is sitting sideways.

Step 4: Back Thread Guide

Holding the thread place it through the back thread guide. There should be a small groove or hook. Make sure the thread goes through this otherwise the machine won’t sew correctly.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Threading the back thread tension

Step 5: Front Thread Guide

Take the thread down the front channel and around the front tension guide at the bottom. The dial above the “Brother” logo on the sewing machine is the tension dial that controls how tight or loose the thread is sitting.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Threading the front tension guide

Step 6: Through the Take-up Leaver

Take the thread up from the front thread guide and through the take-up lever hook. You will notice in the image from step 5 that there is a hook inside the sewing machine. This is called the take-up lever, which moves when the needle goes up and down.

Threading through the take-up lever

Tip: If you cant see the take-up lever hook go back to Step 2. You need to reposition the needle up for the hook to be seen.

Step 7: Above Needle Hook

Pull the thread down the channel from the take-up lever and through the small hook above the needle. This hook is usually around the same spot the top of the needle sits.

Some machines will have this hook and some won’t, if your machine doesn’t have a small hook above the needle continue onto Step 8.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Threading the needle hook

Step 8: Thread The Needle

Place the thread in the eye of the needle from the front through to the back. Pull the thread under the presser foot and past the back of the machine to create a long thread tail. If you struggle to get the thread through the eye of the needle try using one of these needle threader tools.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Threading the needle

Step 9: Insert the Bobbin

Remove the bottom plate by pulling it towards you and place the bobbin into the bobbin case. Follow the arrow directions for what way to position the bobbin correctly.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Removing the bottom plate to insert the bobbin
How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Inserting the bobbin into the sewing machine

Step 10: Pull Up the Bobbin Thread

Hold the top thread tail while turning the handwheel towards you on the sewing machine. Gently pull the top thread up. You should see the bobbin thread looped around the top thread. Pull until you can grab the bobbin thread.

Pull out the same tail length as the top thread and pop both threads under the presser foot towards the back of the sewing machine. Replace the bobbin case plate on the machine.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step Guide
Pulling up the bobbin thread

Now your machine has been threaded up and is ready to start sewing. Use a scrap piece of fabric to sew a few rows of stitching and check that the tension is good to go.

If you find the rows of stitching to be too loose tighten the tension dial to a higher number. If it is too tight change the tension to a smaller number and test another row of stitching.

Tip: Maintaining your sewing machine is easy and a great habit to get into. I like to clean my machine every few months. I use a makeup brush to remove as much dust as I can. Remove the bottom plates on the machine and remove any fluff or dust that has built up in the bottom. This helps stop the machine from rusting, getting jammed or sewing fluff and oil onto your garments. Check your machine manual on how to oil your machine too.

You can find further information and downloadable guides for all Brother sewing machines on their website.

Now its time to practise sewing seams. Check out my how to guides on sewing gathers and french seams.

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