Technique: Thread a Sewing Machine

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This guide shows you how to thread a sewing machine.

You don’t need a sewing machine to sew. But a machine can save you a lot of time when you make repairs, so if you have access to a sewing machine, here’s how to thread it. In this guide we’re using a Bernina 830, but the process will be similar for most sewing machines. Refer to your sewing machine’s owner’s manual for specific directions on how to thread the machine.

Edit Step 1 Thread a Sewing Machine  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Thread a Sewing Machine  ¶ 

  • Place a spool on the pin. Pull the thread from the spool straight out, following the length of the machine.

  • Hook the thread under the eyelet on the outer edge of the machine.

  • With one hand, hold the spool steady. Using the eyelet as a pivot, pull the string perpendicular with the other hand. Lay the thread into the slot, which bisects the top of the machine.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Pull the thread all the way across the slot on the top of the sewing machine. Then, pull the thread down toward the presser foot.

  • There is a lever just above the presser foot. Hook the thread under the lever until it rests in the crux.

  • Pull the thread back up toward the top of the machine.

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • At the top of the machine, lead the thread along the groove of the take-up lever.

  • Once you've fed the thread into the crux of the take-up lever, pull the thread back down towards the presser foot.

  • If you've threaded correctly, your thread should form a complete zigzag—first down, then up, then back down all the way to the presser foot.

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Hook the thread behind the small, bent arm where the needle attaches to the machine.

  • Guide the thread, from front to back, through the eye of the needle, leaving a loose end of approximately 10 cm.

    • If the end of your thread has frayed and you cannot guide it through the eye of the needle, snip off the frayed end and try again.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • After you've guided the thread through the eye of the needle, pull the thread down and through the large groove in the presser foot.

  • Hook the thread along the groove and pull it perpendicular toward the body of the machine.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • While continuing to hold the top thread advance the sewing machine with the balance wheel (also know as the hand wheel), to pick up the bobbin thread.

  • Only turn the balance wheel in the direction that advances the machine. Usually, this means turning the wheel towards you. Turning the wheel in the opposite direction can ruin the tension on the sewing machine, causing it to jam. See your sewing machine manual for instructions specific to your machine.

  • Grasp these two threads between pinched fingers and pull them in unison toward the body of the machine, leaving two to three inch tails.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Slide the sewing machine table onto the machine.

  • Hold the sewing machine table so that is lays flush with the sewing machine.

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Lock the sewing machine table into place by pushing the clamp lever to the right until it engages.

For more information, check out the Basic Sewing device page.

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