Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Hand Sewing: Thread the Needle & Tie the Knot

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Click to Read MoreHave you ever hit your side mirror driving your car into the garage? If so, you're for-sure going to want a needle threader. It is the way for anyone without eagle vision to thread a needle.

Many sewing projects require a bit of hand sewing to finish up a job. Not every machine can sew on a button or do a hem stitch. So, first things first -- let's thread the needle.

Threading a Needle

Click to Enlarge

For Eagle Eyes

Click to Enlarge

  • Using sharp scissors, cut the thread at a 45-degree angle.

Click to Enlarge

  • Pass the freshly cut end through the eye of the needle. It's easier if you slightly dampen the end of the thread first.
  • Pull the thread through the eye about 4 or 5 inches. This is the end that will remain unknotted.

For Everyone Else

Using a needle threader:

Click to Enlarge

  • Push the loop in the needle threader through the eye of your needle.

Click to Enlarge

  • Holding the needle and threader in one hand, pick up the thread and push it through the hole in the needle threader until it's about 4 or 5 inches through the threader.
  • Gently pull the needle threader back through the eye of the needle.

There are also self-threading hand needles that have a slot into the eye of the needle. Some have slots on top and some on the side. You simply gently glide the thread to the notch next to the slot. It will catch and then you can snap the thread into the eye. Ta Da!

Helpful hints:

  • Additional light helps.
  • Beeswax can be used to stiffen the end of the thread and make it easer to poke through the eye.
  • Place a contrasting color behind your needle to make it easier to see.

Tying a Knot

It's actually really easy, but you may need to practice a few times until you get the "feel" of it.

Click to Enlarge

  • Hold the thread between you thumb and index finger.

Click to Enlarge

  • Wrap a loop of thread completely around the tip of your opposite index finger (just at the base of your fingernail).
  • Close your thumb over the loop.

Click to Enlarge

  • Keeping the thread taut, use your thumb to roll the loop towards the end of your index finger.

Click to Enlarge

  • Just as it slides off, use your middle finger to step on the loop and hold while you pull the thread into a tight knot.

Click to Enlarge

Fabric designer, Heather Bailey, has a knifty "knot" tutorial that shows another way to tie a knot.


Comments (11)

Lexi said:
Lexi's picture

I just received a sewing kit for Christmas so I am trying to figure it all out, however, my question is:

Why do we need to cut the thread at a 45 degree angle? 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lexi - welcome to sewing! Your thread may look like a single strand, but there are actually lots of thin strands wrapped around a core. Cutting at a 45˚ angle gives you the sharpest, cleanest point possible to feed through the eye of the needle.

huh? said:
huh?'s picture

But then what do you do with the 4 or 5 inches that remains unknotted? That slipped right out of the needle. What do I do to tie that?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ huh? - that remains unknotted. if you leave the tail long enough and pull gently it should not pull out of the eye of the needle. If you are still having trouble, you can stitch with two lengths of thread. To do that, bring the thread through until the two tails are even then knot using the same method but rolling and knotting two strands rather than one. You then have a continuous loop. The stitches won't be quite as tidy but it won't slip out of the eye.

stangermtp@aol.com said:
stangermtp@aol.com's picture
To Jorge:

Check out how to sew with ribbons. You might find a tutorial that prevents the ribbon from coming loose and if I recall the knot is at the needle end
stangermtp@aol.com said:
stangermtp@aol.com's picture
Heather's tutorial is very good. I have been using her method for years. Jorge check for tutorial on ribbon knotting. It may be what you are looking for, I think the knot is at the needle end to prevent the ribbon from slipping out.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@Funshine16 - Ha! I can't see you, so I don't know what you're doing wrong. smilies/wink.gif Probably nothing. As we mention, it takes a bit of practice to get the feel of it. You roll the loop so it kind of twists on itself and then you slide the loop off your finger with your nail while pulling the long thread gently (don't want to pull it out of the needle) the opposite direction.
jorge said:
jorge's picture
I started to sew patches on leather and denim, I need a good knot AT THE NEEDLE END, if not, I lose the thread.smilies/angry.gif
tiggteach said:
tiggteach's picture
that's how my mom showed me when I was a child and just starting to sew!!!!!