How To Use A Needle And Thread: A Step-By-Step Guide For Beginners

Sewing can seem intimidating for beginners, but learning how to properly use a needle and thread is an essential skill that opens up a world of DIY possibilities. Whether you want to hem pants, mend tears, embroider designs or create your own clothes from scratch, understanding needle and thread basics is the first step.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: To use a needle and thread, you’ll need to cut an appropriate length of thread, thread the needle, make a knot at the end, and then push the needle through the fabric until the knot catches on the underside.

Keep your stitches small and even for the best results.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about choosing needles and thread, proper threading technique, making knots, the different types of hand stitches, needle positioning and more.

With the right supplies and a bit of practice, you’ll be hand sewing like a pro in no time.

Choosing a Needle and Thread

Picking the Right Needle Size and Type

When it comes to choosing the right needle for your sewing project, there are a few factors to consider. The first is the needle size, which is determined by the thickness of the fabric you’ll be working with. Generally, the higher the number, the larger the needle.

For example, a size 9 needle is smaller and more delicate, while a size 16 needle is larger and stronger. If you’re unsure about the appropriate needle size, it’s always best to refer to the fabric manufacturer’s recommendations.

Another important consideration is the needle type. There are various needle types available, each designed for specific purposes. For general sewing, a universal needle is a good choice as it can be used with a wide range of fabrics.

However, if you’re working with knit or stretchy fabrics, a ballpoint needle is recommended to prevent snagging and potential damage to the fabric. On the other hand, if you’re sewing with denim or heavy fabrics, a jeans needle with a sharp point will be more effective.

Choosing the Best Thread Material and Thickness

When selecting thread for your sewing project, it’s important to choose the right material and thickness to ensure optimal results. The most commonly used thread materials are cotton, polyester, and silk. Each material has its own characteristics and advantages.

Cotton thread is great for natural fabrics like cotton and linen, as it blends seamlessly with these materials. Polyester thread is known for its strength and durability, making it suitable for a wide range of fabrics.

Silk thread, on the other hand, is ideal for delicate fabrics and provides a luxurious finish.

Thread thickness, also known as thread weight, is another factor to consider. The thread weight is denoted by a number, with higher numbers indicating thinner threads. For general sewing, a medium weight thread, such as a 50wt, is commonly used.

However, if you’re working with heavier fabrics or need stronger stitches, a thicker thread like a 30wt or 40wt may be more appropriate. It’s important to match the thread thickness with the needle size to ensure smooth stitching and avoid thread breakage.

For more detailed information on choosing needles and threads, you can visit the website, which provides comprehensive guides and tutorials on sewing supplies and techniques.

Threading the Needle

Cutting the Thread to Length

Before you start threading the needle, you’ll need to cut a piece of thread to the desired length. It’s important to choose the right length of thread to avoid any difficulties while sewing. A general rule of thumb is to cut a piece of thread that is about double the length of the area you’ll be stitching.

This will give you enough thread to work with without it getting tangled or too short.

Once you have your thread, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut it cleanly. Avoid using dull scissors as they can fray or damage the thread, making it harder to thread the needle. Take your time and make sure the cut is straight so that the thread can easily pass through the eye of the needle.

Inserting the Thread Through the Eye of the Needle

After cutting the thread to the desired length, it’s time to thread the needle. This step can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

First, take the end of the thread and wet it slightly between your fingers. This will help the fibers stick together, making it easier to thread. Next, hold the needle with one hand and pinch the end of the thread with the other.

Gently insert the end of the thread through the eye of the needle, making sure it goes all the way through.

If you’re having trouble getting the thread through the eye of the needle, you can try using a needle threader. This small tool has a thin wire loop that can help guide the thread through the eye. Simply insert the thread through the loop, then pull it through the eye of the needle.

Once the thread is successfully threaded through the needle, pull it through until you have an even length of thread on both sides. Congratulations! You have successfully threaded the needle and are now ready to start sewing.

For more detailed instructions and visual demonstrations, you can visit The Spruce Crafts. They provide step-by-step tutorials and helpful tips for beginners.

Knotting the Thread

Before you begin any sewing project, it’s essential to know how to properly knot your thread. This will ensure that your stitches stay in place and do not unravel. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to knot your thread:

Step 1: Cut the Thread

Start by cutting a piece of thread that is about 18 inches long. This length will give you enough thread to work with without it becoming too cumbersome.

Step 2: Thread the Needle

Take one end of the thread and insert it through the eye of the needle. Pull the thread through until you have an equal length of thread on each side.

Step 3: Create a Loop

Hold both ends of the thread together and create a small loop at the end. Make sure that the loop is about an inch away from the end of the thread.

Step 4: Make a Knot

Take the loop and wrap it around the needle two or three times. Hold the loop in place with your finger, while pulling the needle through the loop. This will create a knot at the end of the thread.

It’s important to note that there are different types of knots you can use in sewing. The knot described above is known as a “hand knot” or “overhand knot,” and it is commonly used for securing the thread at the beginning and end of a seam.

Another type of knot that is often used is the “backstitch knot,” which is a more secure knot that is used to reinforce the stitches.

For more detailed instructions on how to knot your thread, you can visit This website provides step-by-step images and additional tips for knotting your thread correctly.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be discouraged if your knots don’t turn out perfectly the first few times. With time and practice, you’ll become more skilled at knotting your thread and your sewing projects will turn out beautifully.

Basic Hand Stitches

When it comes to using a needle and thread, learning some basic hand stitches is essential. These stitches form the foundation for various sewing projects and can be used to mend and create garments, accessories, and more.

In this section, we will explore four common hand stitches: the running stitch, backstitch, whipstitch, and slip stitch.

Running Stitch

The running stitch is the most basic hand stitch and is often used for basting or temporarily holding fabric layers together. To create a running stitch, simply push the needle in and out of the fabric in a straight line. The stitches should be evenly spaced and of equal length.

This stitch is quick and easy to execute, making it ideal for beginners.


The backstitch is a strong and durable stitch commonly used for sewing seams, attaching patches, or creating decorative outlines. Unlike the running stitch, the backstitch involves overlapping the stitches to create a continuous line.

Start by making a small stitch forward, then bring the needle back to the end of the previous stitch and push it forward again. Repeat this process to create a neat and secure line of stitches.


The whipstitch is often used for joining two fabric edges or binding the edges of raw fabric. To execute a whipstitch, align the edges of the fabric and insert the needle from the backside. Bring the needle over the edge and then insert it back through the fabric, creating a diagonal stitch.

Repeat this process along the entire length of the seam, ensuring that the stitches are evenly spaced and secure.

Slip Stitch

The slip stitch, also known as the ladder stitch or invisible stitch, is used for closing seams or attaching fabric pieces without visible stitches. This stitch creates a nearly invisible seam, making it perfect for finishing hems, pillows, or stuffed toys.

To create a slip stitch, insert the needle through one fabric layer and then catch a tiny bit of the opposite layer. Continue alternating between the two layers, creating a ladder-like pattern.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering these basic hand stitches. With time and patience, you’ll become more confident in your sewing skills and be able to tackle more complex projects. So grab your needle and thread, and start stitching!

Hand Sewing Tips and Tricks

Keeping Proper Thread Tension

Achieving the right thread tension is crucial for successful hand sewing. If the tension is too loose, your stitches may be sloppy and easily come undone. On the other hand, if the tension is too tight, it can cause the fabric to pucker or even tear.

To maintain proper thread tension, make sure to pull the thread firmly, but not too tightly, as you stitch. Practice on scrap fabric before working on your project to get a feel for the correct tension.

Positioning the Needle Correctly

The way you hold and position your needle can greatly affect your stitching technique. Hold the needle between your thumb and forefinger, allowing it to rest comfortably. Make sure the eye of the needle is facing the direction you want to sew.

This will prevent the needle from fraying the thread as it passes through the fabric. By holding the needle properly, you can have better control and precision when sewing.

Using a Thimble for Protection

A thimble is a small, protective cap that fits over your finger and helps to push the needle through the fabric. It not only protects your finger from getting pricked, but it also provides extra support and control while sewing. Thimbles come in different materials such as metal, plastic, or leather.

Choose one that feels comfortable and secure on your finger. Using a thimble can make your hand sewing experience safer and more efficient.

Caring for Needles and Thread

To ensure that your needles and thread last longer, it’s important to take proper care of them. After each use, wipe your needles with a soft cloth or tissue to remove any dirt or residue. Store them in a needle case or pincushion to prevent them from getting lost or damaged.

As for the thread, keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent discoloration and weakening. By maintaining the quality of your needles and thread, you can have a smoother sewing experience.


Learning how to hand sew using needles and thread takes practice, but the ability to mend and create small projects is an invaluable skill. Start by ensuring you have the proper supplies – needles, thread, scissors, pins and a thimble.

Work on mastering threading, knotting and basic running stitches on scrap fabric before moving on to more advanced techniques. Stay patient with yourself as you build coordination and dexterity. With a bit of time and dedication, you’ll be hand sewing everything from buttons to entire garments in no time!

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