Threading Your Sewing Machine with a Top Thread (Main Spool)


So your machine is plugged in and ready to sew.  The next step is to thread it.  We’ll start with the top thread and then move onto winding thread onto a bobbin and threading your bottom thread.

Here’s a great graphic of how a sewing machine actually works.  Mesmerising isn’t it?  I could watch it for hours.

How two threads interlock to form a stitch - How a Sewing Machine Works

How a Sewing Machine Works

Some of these parts will be in different spots so refer to your particular manual if you get stuck but hopefully this page will give you guidance on what to do.

Always thread your machine with your presser foot raised UP.  This ensures the tension discs are not engaged and some machines are quite finicky about it.


Threading-Your-Sewing-Machine Text

Step 1: Place the spool on the pin with the thread coming off anti-clockwise (pulling off the back).  This is just another way to help tensioning it so it has to pull against itself to wind off the thread.

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You may also have a horizontal thread holder – you should have a disc to hold it onto the spool pin.


Step 2: Take the end of the thread and pull it through the first guide – normally further left from your thread spools at the top or towards the back of the back.

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Step 3: The next step is to pull the thread through the tensioning discs.  These discs squeeze together when you lower your presser foot to regulate the thread as you sew.  They should be loose at this stage if you touch them gently with your finger nails.  Ensure your tension is set to the middle (my dial on this machine is 5, others it can be 4).  There is normally some sort of mark to help you.

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Step 4:  The bottom thread guide.  I have fond memories of my Home Ec teaching us the ‘down, up, down’ rhyme for threading a machine.  This is the first down 🙂

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Step 5:  Up! Pull your thread end up through the Take Up Lever (or goose head).  You don’t need to poke it through, just manoeuvre it behind and then pull forward – there are splits in the metal that will put it in the right spot.

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Step 6: Down again – this time you’re aiming for a small guide on the top of the needle.  This is the one many people forget but it’s important to maintain that even thread tension and stop a whole lot of tangling headaches.

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Step 7:  The last step is to thread your needle.  Some machines have an automatic needle threader.  I’ve never been able to master them so I just rely on the usual method of cutting the ends so there’s no frayed bits and then just poke it through.

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That’s it!  Next step…. the bobbin.


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