Skip to main content

How to Use or Repair an Automatic Needle Threader

I am a self-taught quilter, and I've sewn seriously since I was 14. I hope I can share some of the things I've learned through the years.

How to use needle threader

How to use needle threader

The Automatic Needle Threader

Today, I'd like to talk about automatic needle threaders. I first encountered one of these gadgets when I got my new Brother Project Runway sewing machine last year. After I conquered my fear of this new-fangled gadget, I was like, "Wow automatic needle threaders are kind of fiddly and tedious." Once I got used it, the automatic needle threader stopped working (how typical is that?). Then, I went back to the old way, and I was like, "Wow this way is really fiddly and tedious too," so I decided to check into how this thing works.

Now, let's take a look a how an automatic needle threader works, so you can harness its power and learn how to use one or fix it! This guide is intended for new and experienced sewists who are learning to use the feature included on many new sewing machines and top-of-the-line models.

The content in this article has been adapted from my video tutorial, which you can find below.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Raise your needle completely.
  2. Lower your presser foot if necessary.
  3. Press the needle threader lever.
  4. Wrap your thread around the elbow-shaped bracket.
  5. Pass the thread into the cage where the thread-catch hook is located.
  6. Release the lever.
  7. Pull the loop through the eye of the needle.

Below you'll find tips, photos, and video tutorials.

Key parts of an automatic needle threader

Key parts of an automatic needle threader

Tips for Using an Automatic Needle Threader

  • Understanding how this gadget works makes it much easier to use. If you look closely, you'll notice that automatic needle threaders rely on a tiny crochet-hook-like mechanism that reaches through the eye of the needle, catches the thread, and brings a loop back through.
  • For my machine, I need to raise the needle all the way up so a hash mark on the hand wheel is at the 12 o'clock position.
  • Once the needle is in the ideal position, you need to create a little hammock by wrapping the thread around the elbow-shaped bracket on the needle threading apparatus. At the same time, you'll push the lever for the needle threader. The bracket ensures that the thread is taught, and the lever lowers the hook mechanism and allows it to rotate forward.
  • After the unit has met the needle, push the thread into the little cage that surrounds the thread-catch hook. At this point, if you wiggle the tail of your thread, you should feel it catch the hook. As you release the lever, a loop of thread will be pulled back through the eye of the needle. Just tug the end of the loop, and your needle will be threaded and ready to go!

Tips, Tricks and a Simple Needle Threader Repair

What to Do When Your Needle Threader Stops Working

Because automatic needle threaders rely on the eye of your needle and the hook of the needle threader aligning perfectly, several things can prevent the system from working properly.

  1. If your needle isn't installed properly or if the needle is not raised completely, the system will not work. Make sure your needle is mounted securely. If it's tightened without the top of the needle being pushed all the way into the holder, the eye of the needle won't be in the right position.
  2. You might also have problem with certain needle and thread combinations. The greatest problem occurs when using thick thread with a small needle. Either thread your needle manually or use a larger needle size.
  3. The third possibility is that your needle threader is bent. The hook itself is very fragile and can be jarred easily. If this happens, the hook won't fit through the eye of the needle. Instead, it might be pushed to the outside of the needle, and you'll never get the thing threaded. If this happens, you might hear a metallic popping noise and feel that the mechanism doesn't glide smoothly. Fortunately, you can easily correct this problem without a trip to the repair shop.

Fixing a Broken Needle Threader

If your needle threader has stopped working, check to make sure that the hook is lining up with the eye of the needle. If not, you'll need to bend it back in place. I've found that a seam ripper is the perfect tool to fit in the little metal cage around the needle threader and bend the hook back into the right position. You could also use a small screwdriver to gently push the mechanism so that it aligns with the eye of the needle once again. That's a nice and effective quick fix. Now, you should be able to thread your machine quickly and easily, or at least that's the goal!

Reasons why an automatic needle threader stops working and how to fix it.

Reasons why an automatic needle threader stops working and how to fix it.

© 2013 QuiltFinger

Share your thoughts and comments here!

JJ on July 21, 2020:

Nope, none of these problems. When I pull down the threading lever the threader stops about an 1/8"inch short behind the needle. It used to work so not sure why it doesn't completely rotate now. It can be manually pushed into position & held there, but then its more difficult to use than it's worth.

Vicki on July 16, 2019:

Can’t see what she’s doing even when opening up the video!

Judy janis on May 13, 2019:

What if it completly broke off?

Edna Fox on September 02, 2018:

I purchased a janome 49360 two weeks ago..the threader has worked only one time.. I Oder a replacement part for the threader and it still doesn’t work...don’t know what I need to do...any ideas or help will be greatly appreciated...thank you...

Muriel Hunt on June 06, 2017:

I have Janome special X33 sewing machine and I need to repair the automatic metal needle Threader I have bought a replacement but it so minute I don`t I can do it myself (Poor eyesight) Has anybody how I can get over this problem ) obviously I need this to use my machine. thank you

G.M. Coll on September 11, 2016:

Why no videos on the automatic threader on the Pfaff Tiptronic 1171? There seem to be videos on the automatic threaders of almost all other sewing machines.