How to thread a needle

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How to thread a needle? …It sounds like a pretty simple task, that is, unless you’ve ever tried it! This post looks specifically at beading needles, but the advice it offers on how to thread a needle can be pretty much applied to any kind of needle.

The Problem

The specific problem with beading needles is that they have tiny holes. Starting Tubular PeyoteSome of the beads you will find yourself using are far too small to be threaded with a traditional sewing needle, so beading needles were invented. They are made from very thin metal. Traditionally the eye of the needle is the widest part. So, beading needles have been created with very narrow eyes so minimise the width of metal being fed through the beads. There is a big problem with this. It is not possible to thread a beading needle using a needle threader: it will simply not fit through the eye. This leaves you relying on your eyesight alone, which can be tricky for some people.

The question of how to thread a needle is one that comes up over and over again in the classes I teach, so I started thinking about the mechanics of how I do it. I am lucky to have good eyesight. This means I can usually see the eye of the needle and actually watch what I’m doing. However, as I thought about my technique, I realised that I don’t often watch, but thread my needle more by feel.

The Most Common Mistake

thread_needle1I see most people try to thread their needle by looking at the eye, holding the thread well away from the end and using their dominant hand to try and guide the thread through the eye of the needle. I have illustrated this in the photo to the left. The odds of successfully threading your needle this way are pretty small actually. This method needs incredible accuracy. With such a tiny eye, the thread is likely to either miss altogether or hit the edge of the needle and glance off.

How to Thread a Needle

You will do far better if you reverse yohow to thread a needleur instincts. Firstly, instead of moving the thread while you hold the needle still, do the reverse. Grip the thread between the finger and thumb of your non-dominant hand. You want to make sure that only the very barest end of the thread is visible between finger and thumb, so you don’t have a long length sticking up – see the photo to the right.

how to thread a needleWhen you have done this, take the needle in your dominant hand  as this will move with more accuracy. Then slide the needle gently down so that the eye is heading between your finger and thumb in the spot where the thread is held. The grip of finger and thumb will mean the thread can’t glance off the edge of the needle. So it is forced through the eye without you having to watch and guide it into place. This may take a few attempts to master, but once you have it really is guaranteed. I find I thread a needle in seconds without even thinking about it.

So there you go – if this explanation of how to thread a needle helps you, then please share it with all your beading friends!

More Great Ideas

  1. If you are just starting out in beading, then you can find some easy beginner patterns here. These cover different techniques and you will see the website also offers free tutorials to help you with the basics.
  2. Make sure you are familiar with the basic beading terminology. This blog is a great place to start. You will learn all about thread length, beading tension, working thread and tail thread…and more!
  3. Next, get some really helpful tips for reading beading tutorials here. Even if you have already tried some tutorials, these three simple tips will solve all the common problems.
  4. Finally, bead kits are a great way to save money. They contain everything you need for a project, so you don’t have to worry about not having the right beads. You can find kits for all levels of experience right here.

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