Stitch Pro: Threading the Needle

May 30, 2013

There's always something to learn, isn't there? Even though you've been beading for decades, you can still learn a little something about your craft. And that little something might be about simply threading a needle.

I've been giving tips about needle-threading to my students for a long time. These tips include:

-Never do the cartoon-version of threading a needle by holding the needle out in front of you, biting your tongue, closing one eye, and aiming the thread end in the general direction of the needle! Instead, hold the thread between the thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand so just a speck of thread shows; place the needle eye on that speck with your dominant hand while you scooch (technical term) the thread through the eye.

-Wax the thread well, then use sharp scissors to cut the thread at an angle, making it easier to guide the thread through the hole.

-Employ chain-nose pliers to squoosh (another technical term) the end of the thread, making it very flat to mimic the needle hole's shape (which is oval, not round). This works especially well for braided beading thread, which can be beefy and round at the end after it's cut.

-Try using a needle threader.

But my latest advice is this: After too many frustrating attempts at threading a needle, just try turning it over so the other side of the eye faces up. Why might this work? I'll tell you: When needles are made in a factory, the eyes are punched with a machine. You might have to get out your microscopic lens to see the difference, but when they punch the hole, they've created a convex and a concave side. The concave side, since it's cupped, is naturally easier to thread because the hole holds the thread end in, helping guide the thread through.

Do you have other tips you'd like to share for threading needles? Do it right now, right here on the Inside Beadwork magazine blog!

Happy beading-

Jean Campbell

Senior editor, Beadwork magazine


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rscollier wrote
on Jun 1, 2013 6:06 AM

When using fireline, I take the end of the fireline and put it in my mouth, clamp between my front teeth and pull the thread through, it flattens the end of the thread making it easy to thread into the needle.  

Charlene F wrote
on Jun 1, 2013 7:16 AM

I have been telling sewers and beaders for years that there is a 'right ' side of a needle; and, if they are having difficulty threading, to turn the needle around.  Now,I understand why.  Also, there is a 'right' end to a thread which is the end coming off the spool.  If doing a two needle weave and having difficulty threading the opposite end, thread both needles on the same end, and, run one needle to the other end.

on Jun 1, 2013 8:13 AM

I also find that if you wet the needle first, the thread will be drawn into the eye.  Try it, it works.

faith@28 wrote
on Jun 1, 2013 9:57 AM

If your thread is just a little too thick to go right through, try folding a very thin piece of thread in half and threading it through the needle to create a loop which you can then use to pull the thicker thread through the eye.  I keep a length of thread handy for just this purpose.

njnomore wrote
on Jun 1, 2013 10:01 AM

Hold needle over a white background or put a small piece of white paper behind needle and then thread. Amazing how the white background makes it so much easier to see the eye.

wvsuzanne wrote
on Jun 2, 2013 8:31 AM

It is also helpful to hold the needle and thread against a background opposite in value from your thread; light against dark and dark against light.

PatriciaW@45 wrote
on Jun 3, 2013 11:03 PM

Use a Tulip needle...I'll never use another kind.  You can actually see the hole (and I am blind as a bat) and I get it threaded first try with the Tulip needles.  Pat Williams

WendyC@33 wrote
on Jun 4, 2013 8:06 PM

use frey check to stiffen the thread...hold the needle so there is a white background behind it.

on Jun 11, 2013 12:33 PM

I agree with everything Jean said -- and would also  like to recommend Tulip brand needles!  They are amazing to use, and come in whatever size you prefer.  Personally, size 11 works for just about everything for this beader.

on Jul 8, 2013 10:19 AM

Don't do that to your teeth - you will put in groves that can lead to decay. Put the fireline on the table and use the edge of a plier - same effect and no tooth groves.

on Jan 10, 2014 1:07 PM

Thank you so much for sharing sounds like this really works, makes sense.

on Jan 10, 2014 1:07 PM

Thank you so much for sharing sounds like this really works, makes sense.

macfish wrote
on Jan 11, 2014 5:55 PM

Dental floss threaders make great needle threaders! They can be used as needles themselves, even .

sewlady5 wrote
on Jan 12, 2014 10:15 AM

I press the end of the thread with the flat of my fingernail -- similar to using pliers or whatever, but you always have your fingernail available.

Gramag wrote
on Jan 19, 2014 1:01 AM

I find it helps to use a finger light that straps on your fingertip with velcro.  By putting it on your pointer finger, it directs the light right on the eye of the needle.   These are quite inexpensive little lights and are very bright as they are LED lights, I think.