How to thread a needle for hand sewing (and tie your knots)

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Nowadays, a sewing machine is the default option for sewing things. But for certain clothing pieces and hobbies such as hand beading and cross-stitching, understanding how to sew by hand is essential. The most creative and beautiful art pieces are from hundreds of hours of threading and planning. And knowing how to thread a needle for hand sewing is an essential first step before you can start hand sewing. Before buying a sewing machine, a lot of sewing enthusiasts (like me) already learned how to sew by hand. I still remember the first ballet shoes I made all by myself!

I had a lot of trouble with the first step of threading a needle and tying a knot. I spent so much time, in the beginning, trying to get this step right that I wasted time that I could be using to sew. Eventually I learned how to do it like a pro. So what’s the right way to thread your needle? Experienced sewers who had the same problem when they were starting out, have figured out proven ways to get it done easier and faster. I’ve gathered all the tips on how to thread a needle for hand sewing and tie your knots here in one place, to make it easier for you. So you can get sewing faster. Now I will show you the best methods for threading a needle, that you can use to get started quickly your next sewing project.

Using a Needle Threader

Inserting your thread does not have to be a hassle. A needle threader was made for this reason. This little gadget has a diamond-shaped loop on the end of it as well as a base that looks a bit like a coin. However, needle threaders come in many varieties. They are at just about any craft store. Amazon also provides useful variations that may fit your sewing needs.

To use a needle threader, you will insert the small wire diamond through the needle eye. Then, put one end of the thread in the diamond and make sure that you have a loop through the diamond. Next, you will pull the diamond out of the needle eye, and the thread will be on the other side. The video above shows exactly how this works.

Tweezers

Sewing tweezers are better than your fingertips for keeping the thread steady while you insert it through the eye. They are helpful for finer handwork. While your hands may shake and the oil on your fingertips causes the thread to slip a bit, tweezers hold it steady for an easy entry. Put one end of the thread between the tweezers so that there is enough to be inserted, and guide it to the needle eye. Once it has gone through, pull it until you have enough on both sides.

White Paper

Whether you choose to thread a needle by hand or with a tool, a white paper is an excellent visual marker. Put some white paper behind your needle to see the contrast of color as you pull it through. It’s that simple!

Scissors 

Just as there are special scissors for fabric cutting, there are special scissors for thread cutting. You can find them at your local craft store the next time you go shopping for sewing supplies. Be sure that your scissors are very sharp and cut at an angle when you have the thread. The insertion will be much easier for you.

Wax or Saliva 

To stiffen the thread for easier insertion, rubbing your thread on beeswax or using your saliva makes the end much easier to work. When the thread meets the eye, it will go through at a straight angle. You can buy a block of beeswax or even use candle wax. A small quantity will do. A word caution is that wax should only be used for hand sewing, as it can gum up a machine.

Rubbing Method

If you would like to try an alternate threading method without any tools, this rubbing way allows for that. You will get your thread, lay it on your finger, and rub it on the needle eye back and forth until a loop is through the other side. Once the loop comes through, pull the thread until the loop disappears. You should try this rubbing method when you have a wider needle eye and have trouble inserting it another way. Some beginners may like this method when they are starting. However, a disadvantage to this method is that it may not work on smaller needles.

Tying the knot 

Now that we have the basics down for threading your needle, it is time to knot the end. Tying a knot will help your thread do its job so it will not unravel. You will need to tie a knot before you begin and at the end to finish off your piece.

Tying the initial knot

Knot tying starts before you put your thread through so your piece will stay intact. To start, you can use this needle-wrapping method shown below to create a sturdy knot that will stand wear-and-tear.

The needle wrapping method

A great hack that makes for a sturdy knot is the needle wrapping method. To start, take your thread, make a loop that makes a full circle to the beginning of the needle. Then wrap the end of it around your needle 3-4 times. Wrapping your thread several times will make for a thicker knot that will not unravel for you. Pull through, and you will have a finished knot at the end of your thread.

Using the thread to tie a knot at the end

When you are ready to finish a piece or run out of thread, you will need to tie a knot. Tying a knot with thread means you don’t have to use your fingers! (This is good news for us less nimble sewers.) This video tutorial will show you step-by-step how to.

Start by threading your needle under the last loop you sewed until there is a loose loop. Then, insert your needle under that loop and tie a knot. Next, repeat this until it is double-knotted. You can cleanly cut your thread for a finish.

Conclusion

Threading your needle for hand sewing can be easy, painless, and habitual. Experienced sewers like myself want all sewers to have an enjoyable time so they can keep making more crafts!

What will you be making next? Do you like beading or cross-stitching? Pick one and start today! Tell us about you latest craft projects in the comments. Happy sewing, from of all of us at Sewing & Craft Club!

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