Basic Sewing Skills: How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

Sew Over It
by Sew Over It
3 Materials
5 Minutes

Today, we're taking it back to basics with a simple tutorial on how to thread a sewing machine. If you’re new to sewing, threading the sewing machine can be daunting!

What are the steps to threading a sewing machine? It seems complex at first but once you learn how to thread a sewing machine, it will become easier each time and you’ll be sewing away! Let me show you how.

Tools and materials:

  • Sewing machine (naturally)
  • Thread
  • Scissors

Quick note: Machines do differ slightly so always check your machine first!

Placing the thread in the spool spin

1. Place your thread in the spool spin

Place your spool of thread at the top of the sewing machine on the spool pin. Here, it’s horizontal. On some machines it is vertical. The thread should be released counter-clockwise.

Steps to threading a sewing machine

2. Pull the thread out

Wrap the thread around the little screw or the bobbin winding tension disc. This part is on the opposite side of the sewing machine above the needle.

Some machines have a small wire attached to it to help hold the thread in place. Make sure the thread is really caught in there.

Then, wrap it around clockwise at the back giving it a few headstart turns. 

How to thread a sewing machine bobbin

3. Start the bobbin winder

Put the bobbin on the bobbin pin. The bobbin pin is near where the spool pin is located. Use the presser foot to wind the bobbin. Your machine may have a bobbin winding button.

How to thread a sewing machine step by step

Check to see that it is winding every so often. There’s a stopper to prevent the bobbin from overfilling. 

How to remove the bobbin from the winder

4. Place the bobbin

This is how to remove the bobbin from the winder. The thread will still be attached to the thread spool as well as the bobbin, so cut the excess leaving about 2 to 3 inches of thread. Lift or slide the bobbin out. 

Holding the bobbin to make the letter P

Hold up the bobbin and the thread should spool about it. Make it look like the letter P where the stem of the P is the thread. That’s the way it needs to go in. 

Dropping the bobbin in the bobbin case

Drop the bobbin in the bobbin case.

Some machines are top loading where the place for the bobbin is frozen in place. Your machine may have a bobbin case that pops out. For that, youll take the case out, pop the bobbin into it, and place it back into the machine.

There’s a little groove that’s just after 6 o’clock. Pull the thread through the groove and pull it round to the left. That’s the tension system for the bobbin.

These two steps are really important for the direction of the thread and the right tension.

Taking the thread off of the washer

5. Place the top thread

Take the little piece of thread off of the washer. Leaving it there is one of the most common mistakes. That piece is only there to wind up the bobbin. 

Following the arrows on your sewing machine

Follow the directional arrows on your sewing machine by pulling the thread from the spool pin through the guide and towards you.

You will be looping it around the tension discs on the bottom, and then back up towards the top along and through the second thread guide. This will ultimately create a long, narrow “U” shape with your thread.

Go down behind the tab down this first groove that’s labeled 1 and go up back the second groove labeled 2. 

The third groove looks like a rabbit

The 3rd groove is what I call the rabbit. If you look at from the side view, it has a floppy ear and an eye.

Pulling the thread through the rabbit's eye

Take the thread and go around the rabbit’s ear and pull through its “eye”. 

How to thread a sewing machine needle

Then, take the thread down behind number 4 which is a little bar that comes across. The little hook at the top of the needle is also one that gets forgotten. So don’t forget to thread it through! 

6. Thread the needle

Trim any wispy bits from the end of the thread so it’s nice and crisp. Hold it close to the end of the thread so you have better control.

Use your finger to show you where the eye is. There’s usually a lot of reflection there.

Threading the needle's eye

Thread the needle’s eye from front to back.

Threading a sewing machine

The very last step is to pull the thread from the bobbin up to the underside of the presser foot so both threads are on top for sewing.

Hold on to the top thread, wind the wheel towards you, and the needle goes all the way down.

Basic sewing skills

When the bottom and top thread come around use your hand to pull both the threads through.

How to thread a sewing machine

Tuck them both under the presser foot. Put the little trap door on the bobbin case. 

How to thread a sewing machine tutorial

You’re ready to sew! I hope this tutorial on how to thread a sewing machine helps you start sewing today!

How to replace a sewing machine needle

Does your sewing machine need a new needle? Check out this tutorial on How to Replace a Sewing Machine Needle in Under 5 Minutes

Suggested materials:
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors

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Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • NL NL on Jan 10, 2022

    This was very informative. I'm self taught, so, there were a couple very helpful points that helped me with tension issues Thank you.