Beginner’s guide to threading a machine – needle thread and drop-in bobbin thread

I’ve been asked to do a tutorial on how to thread up a sewing machine and so I’ve done this based on my Frister & Rossmann QE404. Most machines will thread up in a very similar manner but consult your manual if need be.

First of all, if you’ve had the bobbin case out for cleaning, make sure you’ve replaced it correctly – the two little notches, (A) and (B), toward the front. (note: this is a drop-in bobbin type of machine, check your manual if yours isn’t)

Sewing machine bobbin case

To thread up the bobbin:

Threading a sewing machine 1

Drop the bobbin into the case, with the thread coming out from the back of the bobbin and going to the left. See the wrong/correct diagrams below.

Correct way to load a bobbin into sewing machine

How to thread a sewing machine 2

Pull the thread around to the front and guide it through the right-hand (A) notch.

How to thread a sewing machine 3

Pull the thread gently to the left and guide it through the left-hand (B) notch, bringing the thread toward the back of the machine.

How to thread a sewing machine 2

Let the thread go and replace the see-through plastic cover.

To thread the upper needle thread:

How to thread a sewing machine A

Put the thread onto the holder and bring the thread over the top of the machine to go under the hook (marked 1 on this machine).

How to thread a sewing machine B

Bring the thread toward you so that it goes down the groove (marked 2 on this machine) and out toward the front.

How to thread a sewing machine C

Bring the thread right down the groove at the front of the machine, underneath and round the bottom (marked 3 on this machine).

How to thread a sewing machine D

Bring the thread up, through the other groove and catch the thread around the back of the ‘take up lever’ at the top of the machine (marked 4 on this machine). Note: use the hand wheel to ensure the ‘take up lever’ is at its highest position, so you can easily hook the thread around it from right to left.

How to thread a sewing machine E

Bring the thread toward you and back down the same groove (marked 5 on this machine) to bring the thread out at the bottom. Hook the thread behind the horizontal metal arm – sliding it in from the right-hand side.

How to thread a sewing machine F

Hook the thread behind the small thread guide at the top of the needle shaft – slide in from the right-hand side.

How to thread a sewing machine G

Thread the needle, from front to back.

How to thread a sewing machine H

Keeping a hold of just the needle (upper) thread, hold it out to the left – leave the bobbin thread laying where it is. Turn the hand wheel toward you, to take the needle down and back up again. Pull gently on the needle thread to bring up the loop of bobbin thread that it will have caught around. Pull both threads through and to the left of the presser foot. Ensure there’s enough excess thread of both needle and bobbin threads (10 – 15cm) and lay them toward the back of the machine.

Start Sewing

To start sewing without the threads bunching up: place the fabric under the presser foot at the desired position and seam allowance, bring the presser foot lever down and bring the needle down into the fabric (using the hand wheel). Pick up the excess needle and bobbin threads and gently pull on them both, to ensure there’s no slack. You should be able to start sewing now without the first few stitches getting all tangled up. Start slow and build up speed as you go.

Tension

If you find that the threads get bunched up, tangled or they’re not even on both the front and back of the fabric layers you’re sewing, the tension needs sorting. The needle thread and bobbin thread should lock together between the layers so that the stitches look even, smooth, with no gaps, on both sides. The diagrams below (from my machine manual) shows this quite well. When adjusting tension, the higher the number the tighter the needle thread. Different fabrics and layers will require different tension settings, check on layered up scrap pieces before you start the real thing.

Thread tension on sewing machine

If you find that the bobbin thread is showing through on the top (little bumps between each stitch), then turn the dial to a lower number to reduce the needle thread tension.

reduce needle thread tension

If you find that the needle thread is showing through on the bottom (little bumps between each stitch), then turn the dial to a higher number to increase the needle thread tension.

needle thread tension adjust

The bobbin case also has a small adjustable screw on it. I’ve never had to adjust mine yet but here’s the manual’s diagram of this should you ever need to:

SAMSUNG CSC

I hope this post helps if you’re new to using a sewing machine or if you’re having trouble with the machine not stitching properly.

A few other things to keep in mind…

It’s essential to clean any fluff build-up from the bobbin case/shuttle every now and again, using a soft brush. Not being kept clean can cause all kinds of problems like the stitches getting all tangled up or breaking. It can also cause a knocking noise – a good sign that you need to stop and clean. Also change those needles on a regular basis so that you’re always using a sharp, straight, clean needle – old needles can again cause stitching problems and ruin your fabric. Lastly check that you’re using the right size needle for the fabric you’re using.

Happy Sewing!

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11 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to threading a machine – needle thread and drop-in bobbin thread

  1. I have found that the automatic needle threader only works on larger size needles and not on small holed needle – has anyone else experienced this?

  2. hi Susie,I have a frister- rossman professional quilters edition 681c, I,m really struggling with the tension,tried everything you have suggested above, would it be anything different for this machine, any help would be appreciated.

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