Did you know that there’s such a thing as Thread the Needle Day?
I sure didn’t. And technically, it isn’t even about sewing or quilting AT ALL.
But what a great opportunity to try out some different needle threaders!
The Needle Threaders
Use Your Fingers (aka Pinch and Spit)
When I was a kid and learned to cross-stitch, my mother taught me to wrap the floss around the needle and pinch it shut, then push the pinched end through the needle’s eye. Easy, right? Usually. Now I’m in my forties and I use much smaller needles. Sometimes, I need a little help, and putting a little spit on the eye of the needle isn’t enough (but sometimes it is!).
Thread Heaven, a thread conditioner, is no longer in production, but there are similar products available that I haven’t tried. I like using it for particularly tangly embroidery threads and some metallics.
Self-threading needles are my go-to for burying threads.
The Black Gold No. 9 Quilting Betweens slide through most fabrics and battings like butter.
I love my little OttLite folding LED light. It has a clip, but I frequently just tuck it into the top of my shirt to angle it exactly where I want the light to fall. Hence its nickname: “The Boob Light.”
And yeah. I need reading glasses sometimes. I think they make me look like a sexy librarian, and nothing you say will change my mind.
I had one of these in my wool applique kit, but I think I just figured out what that noise was when I shifted in my chair in the waiting room at Safelite. So I don’t have a picture, because I’m not driving all the way back out there to see if I dropped a cheap needle threader on the floor. It’s one of those inexpensive flat metal threaders with a hook on either end. I (used to) use this threader for embroidery floss, and it works just fine. It can be difficult to pick up off of a flat surface. It’s magnetic, but apparently it’s easy to lose anyway. It has two different sized hooks, neither of which is small enough for my quilting betweens, but really perfect for embroidery needles.
Built-In Machine Threader
It’s no secret that I love my Bernina. One day, I managed in some awkward freak accident to break the needle threader while I was sewing, and it was only then that I realized how much I’ve grown to depend on that thing. When the Notorious BQE was due for a spa day, the technician-who-is-among-my-favorite-people-and-I-should-probably-send-him-cookies replaced the threading mechanism and now I’m much more cautious (not really). But if your machine has a built-in threader that you never use, it’s not that hard to do.
Dritz Machine Needle Inserter and Threader
I decided to investigate this handy tool just in case. The needle inserter worked as advertised, though I prefer being able to feel the needle’s alignment with my fingers. People who have difficulty grasping a needle will find it helpful.
The threader works really well. You do have to be careful when pulling it away from the shank, as you could easily get it caught in the thread and pull it right back through the eye. I didn’t find the built-in hook useful for pulling the thread tail through–a pin worked better, and I always keep one handy for pulling up bobbin thread. (I don’t think the needle bent as much as shows in the picture–it’s really hard to take a photo one-handed at that angle and hold the tool at the same time.)
Collins Quilter’s Threader
The Quilter’s Threader has been in my “binding bin” for a looooong time. It’s simple. It’s inexpensive. And I haven’t broken the wire on it yet. I’ve only used it for hand needles, but today I tried it on a size 70 machine needle and it worked great, though the first time I did it I forgot that it needed to go in through the back and come out the front. Oops!
I like the shape of this needle threader, which has two different sizes of wire loops (conveniently color-coded). The hexagonal case (won’t roll off the table!) protects the wires when you’re not using the tool and doubles as a handle, too. It slips easily into pockets but is large enough that you shouldn’t have trouble finding it. The small wire loop slid easily into the eye of the quilting between that I tested it on, but I did have trouble using it on the machine needle.
I wanted to love this needle threader. Clearly, it’s the most adorable of all the needle threaders. It has a hole for a lanyard and a built-in thread cutter, plus a protective shield for that tiny proboscis. Using an itsy-bitsy hook instead of the looped wire requires a little practice and coordination, but it does work (at least on an embroidery needle). I just couldn’t get it to fit through the eye of my tiny hand quilting betweens, and I was unsuccessful in threading the machine as well.
This guy is high-tech–for a needle threader. There’s a sliding button to retract the wire loop and protect it from breakage, and when you slide it all the way out the built-in LED light comes on. Let me tell you, that light is great because it’s always aimed exactly where it needs to point (sorry, Boob Light, it clearly has the advantage here). Alas, I still needed my reading glasses. I had a little trouble at first fitting the wire through the No. 9, but it did fit. I couldn’t get it to work with my machine needle. The size and shape of this needle threader made it very easy to pick up and hold onto. It also has a built-in thread cutter and lanyard hole.
The moment I had been waiting for! I’ve been eyeballing this needle threader for AGES, but could never justify the purchase. The packaging clearly states the appropriate sizes of needles that it works with, and I was happy to see that the No. 9 betweens fall into that range. Clearly, the desk needle threader works only for hand needles, not for threading your machine, and the packaging states that it won’t thread embroidery needles. It measures approximately 2.5″ x 3″ x 1″, so it’s bulkier than the rest of the needle threaders I tested, but not so bulky that you can’t find room for it when you go on a retreat or to a workshop.
It works great–quick, easy, and I didn’t even need my reading glasses. I even tried intentionally putting the needle in sideways to see what would happen, but nothing I tried could get this needle threader to NOT work. This seems like it would be a great solution for a quilter with arthritis or other hand mobility issues.
Bonus: it comes in other colors, too.
|LoRan Needle Threader||Dritz Machine Needle Inserter and Threader||Collins Quilter's Threader||Colonial Needle Threader||Dritz Hummingbird Needle Threader||Dritz LED Needle Threader||Clover Desk Needle Threader|
|For Hand Quilting Needles|
|For Embroidery Needles|
|For Sewing Machine Needles|
|Easy to Pick Up and Hold|
|Built-In Thread Cutter|