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How to Thread a Sewing Machine

How to thread a sewing machine

The images for this how to thread a sewing machine tutorial were produced by Frank Nutt Sewing Machines based in King’s Heath, Birmingham. Visit the showroom for an extensive range of sewing machines and equipment. The machine threaded here is a Brother Innov-is 15 sewing machine available from Frank Nutt Sewing Machines.

In this step-by-step tutorial we show you how to thread a Brother Innov-is 15 sewing machine. Most sewing machines, whatever the make, have a similar process for threading but always check your sewing machine manual for the exact instructions.


Winding a Bobbin

The first step in threading your machine is to wind the bobbin. Always use the manufacturer’s bobbins – don’t substitute with cheap alternatives as these could damage your machine.

How to wind a bobbin

Put your thread spool onto the horizontal (or vertical) spool pin and turn it to check that the thread will wind off the spool anti-clockwise. 

Guide the thread around the relevant parts on the machine – as you can see here, the numbers in white on black refer to the bobbin winding trail.

Bobbin winding on a sewing machine

Take the thread across to the bobbin winder and feed the thread in to the bobbin as instructed. Some bobbins have a small hole in the top that you pull the thread through. Check if your bobbin needs to be a certain way up – some have the logo on them that should be on top. Bobbins and bobbin winding  will vary with different manufacturers. This machine has a notch on the bobbin where the spring on the shaft fits. Wind the thread a few times around the bobbin by hand to secure it. 

Buy sewing machine from Frank Nutt

Slide the bobbin to the right to disengage the main needle and depress your foot pedal to wind the thread, stopping when the bobbin is full – your machine may stop automatically or you will be able to see when it has reached capacity. Remove the bobbin from the winder. 


Threading the Upper Machine 

How to thread up a sewing machine

Raise the presser foot and needle before threading. Wind the thread off the spool and pass it around the thread guides as numbered on the machine. 

Turn the handwheel on the right-hand side of the machine towards you (never away) until the raised line on the handwheel is at the top. If your machine has a needle position button it is always best to use this button rather than manually turning the handwheel. Press it once, so the needle goes down into the machine and then again, so the needle lifts up out of the machine.

Guide thread through a sewing machine

Take the thread in a u-shape under the guide as shown. 

Basic Brother sewing machine

Bring the thread back up and pass around the take up lever before bringing it back down to thread the needle. 

Tensioning the thread on a sewing machine

Pull the thread down towards the needle and needle bar thread guide behind where the top of the needle sits in the machine. Lower the presser foot.

Use the auto needle threader function

Ideally you should raise the presser foot at this point to open the tension discs. Now you can thread the needle manually from front to back. If your machine has one, use the needle threading mechanism then gently pull the needle threader down to meet the eye of the needle.


Universal guide to threading a sewing machine

Pull the thread around the threader, usually from back to front so it hooks under the tiny hook which should be level with the needle eye.


Correct way to thread a sewing machine

As you very gently raise the threader, the thread should pull through the needle at the back as a loop. Pull the thread through the presser foot and out the back by a few centimetres.


Threading the Lower Machine

Top loading bobbin

This step will vary if your machine is a front-loading bobbin as you will load the bobbin into the separate bobbin case and draw the thread around the tension spring before inserting the bobbin case into the machine front. The machine pictured has a top-loading bobbin, so first remove the cover.

Set up a sewing machine

Before you place the bobbin in the compartment, check the thread is winding off in the correct way and the bobbin is the correct way up for your machine. 

Brother innov-is sewing machines

Pull the thread through the tensioning hooks in the bobbin case and pull the thread out a few centimetres. 

As you pull the bobbin thread the bobbin must be spinning anticlockwise.

Top loading bobbin

 Bring it out and pull to check the bobbin turns ok. 

Bobbin placed into a machine

Replace the bobbin cover.

Sewing machine techniques

Now turn the flywheel towards you and the needle should pick up and pull the bobbin thread to the surface of the machine so you can start sewing!


Now you know how to thread your sewing machine why not try one of our free sewing projects to get you started? Click the beginner’s tab for our easiest projects.