How to easily thread a needle

Needle and frayed thread that is wider than the needle's eye.
Not how it's done

Threading thick thread through a tiny needle can be tricky. But even the tiniest eyes are easily threaded if you use the right technique.

Sashiko thread is thicker than normal sewing thread. That makes it quite tricky to force the thread through the needle's eye unless you know how to do it the right way. If you can thread sashiko needles, you can thread any needle. Here's how:

The loop technique for threading your sashiko needle

With your thread in one hand and the needle in the other, create a loop around the needle. Grip the eye of the needle firmly between your thumb and index finger and pull the needle towards the loop to create some tension. Then pull the needle out. Slowly open your fingers just enough to see a tiny bit of the loop.

Sashiko needle with a tiny loop of thread created around it for easier threading

This technique may seem counter-intuitive, because you are threading twice the material through a tiny eye. But the loop prevents your thread from fraying into several plies which would be way harder to get through the eye.

And because you pulled the loop around the needle, you created a pointy edge, which is easier to insert.

Two hands threading a thread loop through a needle's eye
A loop is easier to thread

In case you mess up

I have to admit that even with my practiced hands, I do mess up sometimes. Especially when in a rush. I would try to pull the thread through and end up with a couple of frayed plies on one side while the rest of the bunch would refuse to go through.

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In this case, it is always a good thing if you haven't created the loop way down towards the middle of your thread, but somewhere near the end. Then you can cut off the frayed bit without much of a loss and try again.

Good thread works better

This is probably self-explanatory but I'll mention it anyway: good quality thread is easier to fit through tiny needle eyes than lower quality thread.

Daruma thread is pretty awesome!

Sashiko thread by Daruma

Some of the best thread I've ever used. Daruma thread doesn't tangle because the it is on cards and the colors don't bleed when washed.

Check price on Amazon

Because sashiko thread is made up of different plies that are twisted into one durable strand of thread, it may fray. If the thread has good quality, this will happen less likely. That is due to the thread being twisted with more care. The better twisting makes for less fraying!

Hand holding a needle with a loop of sashiko thread peeking through the needle's eye
Good thread doesn't fray easily

One tip to avoid fraying even with the cheapest thread:

Just wrap the end of your thread in a piece of tape and cut away any excess tape so the width of it will fit through the needle's eye. Cut the tip at an angle to make your task even easier and push it through. Gently remove the tape afterward and you're set!

Can I use a needle threader for sashiko needles?

Yes! There is no reason why you shouldn't thread your needle with a needle threader. It makes threading sashiko needles an easy-peasy task, but with the technique I explained above, it is not at all difficult to thread your needle without the help of an additional tool.

Fewer tools make for less clutter and when you take your piece in the making with you on the run, less clutter is always better.

What should I do if I still can't make the thread fit?

You have tried the loop technique but failed and you've broken your needle threader or you didn't have one in the first place? In this case, you may want to choose a needle with a slightly bigger eye or a different, thinner thread.

7 different packages of sashiko needles in different sizes
There are many different needle sizes to choose from

A smaller eye makes the needle more difficult to thread, but in exchange for that, the needle will glide through the fabric more easily. But unless the needle's eye is so big that it will damage the fabric, it is no problem if you give up some of the stitching comfort to be able to get started.

Big Eye Straight Sashiko Needle by Tulip

My favorite sashiko needle by far. Glides smoothly, super pointy and has a big eye. Never had any trouble threading these needles.

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Like with everything, threading a needle gets easier with practice. You'll probably be a handy needle threader in no time!

Enjoy your stitches!