An automatic needle threader should make our lives easier– right? Well, sometimes they do for a while and then we hear “They just stop working!”
Keep your needle threader in good working order with these tips:
Note: Most of these tips are preventative measures. If you’re needle threader isn’t working right now, give us an email or a call and see if we can fix it for you, then use these best practices to keep your needle threader in good shape!
1. Put the needle in the correct position!
This is the most important thing. An automatic needle threader works by pushing a very thin wire bayonet through the eye of your needle to catch the thread. We all know that this is a very exact motion, and that’s why we want our needle threaders to work! If your needle is too high or too low, you will bend the bayonet out of alignment. The sad thing about this is that next time you try to use the needle threader, even if you do so correctly, it won’t work– because the bayonet is bent. It only takes one time to bend it, so always put your needle in the correct position. What’s the correct position? That depends on your machine
Manual Needle Threader (while not truly “automatic”, these needle threaders are attached to the machine, so I’m including them here). This type of needle threader is common on mechanical machines. Turn your handwheel so that you see the notch on your hand wheel aligns with the seam in the casing on the side of your machine and your take-up lever peeks out of the top of the machine. That should be your highest position- the position apropriate for using your needle threader!
Sergers with automatic needle threaders:
If you have a Baby Lock Imagine serger, line up the green lines on your handwheel and machine to put the needles in the correct position.
If you have an Imagine Wave or Enlighten serger, simply engage the threading system like you would to thread the loopers- this puts the needles in the correct position.
I have a sewing machine with a “Needle Up/Down Button”. If you’re machine has this button, use it to put the needle in the highest position before engaging the needle threader. This is called “electronic high”. This button puts the needle in the proper position for the needle threader.
2. Clear the thread path!
If you have an automatic needle threader, make sure that there is nothing in your thread path that will get in the way of the thread running smoothly through the eye of the needle, i.e. the thread is wound tightly around a spool cap. If you have a manual needle threader- you have to let the thread go so that it can pass through the eye of the needle. This takes some coordination, but with practice, you can do it! We’ll try to get a video of this motion soon!
3. Use the correct needle!
Automatic needle threaders work on the vast majority of needles, but there are some exceptions.
Size 8/60 needles. These needles are too small for automatic needle threaders. And, really, size 60 is a fairly rare size for us to be using- but if you do, make sure and thread that needle by hand!
Leather needles- Some automaic needle threaders might work on leather needles, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Leather needles have a sharp, wide blade-like point to slice through hide, so it’s better to thread them by hand.
Double/Twin needles or Double-Eyed needles. These needles are very confusing to an automatic needle threader- the eye of the needle is not where it should be at all, so the bayonet can easily meet an obstruction and become bent.
4. Thread through your last thread guides properly.
For most automatic needle threaders, it’s important that the thread is held taut between the guide above the needle and the next thread guide. Your needle threader has a little arm that comes down to hold the thread in place for that bayonet- and it can’t be loose. This means that if you thread properly and try to use your needle threader, but you are unsuccessful, you may have to re-thread the last couple of thread guides in order for the threader to work. No slack thread!- ok?
5. Get your machine serviced.
If you sew through a pin or pull your fabric through your machine, you will get your machine out of time. At that point, all of the advice above is useless. You have to keep your machine in good working order if you want them to work for you. We recommend getting your machine serviced one time a year, if you sew moderately.
Have you ever broken your needle threader? Tell us about it in the comments!