How to Thread a Brother Sewing Machine (Step-by-Step)

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Learning to thread a Brother sewing machine for the first time can be challenging! 

When I first got my Brother CS6000i sewing machine, it took several tries to figure everything out. Especially that pesky automatic needle threader.

You can find diagrammatic instructions for threading a Brother sewing machine in your instruction manual or quick-start guide or on the body of your sewing machine. 

However, I always prefer actual picture tutorials. So that’s why I’ll show you how to thread your Brother sewing machine using my Brother CS6000i and CS7000X as models in this step-by-step guide.

I’ll cover how to thread the upper thread through the needle, how to thread the bobbin on a Brother sewing machine, and how to install the bobbin. This tutorial should apply to most Brother sewing machines like the Brother CS7000i, Brother CS7000X, Brother GX37, and many other recent models.

step-by-step thread a brother sewing machine

How to Thread a Bobbin on A Brother Sewing Machine

You must wind the bobbin first if you’ve just taken your brand-new Brother sewing machine out of its box. 

Make sure only to use compatible Brother bobbins for your sewing machine. In the case of most Brother sewing machines, this will be Class 15, SA156 plastic bobbins.

pull out spool pin

To begin the bobbin-winding process, pull the spool pin up or out and place your spool of thread on it. 

use a spool cap for horizontal spool pins

If your machine has a horizontal spindle, you may need to place the spool cap over it. Most vertical spindles do not need spool caps. 

how spool unwinds

When orienting the thread spool, I place it so the thread tail pulls from the left behind on my vertical spool pin and from the top on my horizontal spool pins. 

setting up bobbin winding

Then, pull the thread end out, and pass it under and clockwise around the pre-tension disk on the left of the machine body. You’ll feel and thus know when the thread slips under that disk. (The disk is the circle on top of the L-shaped thread guide piece.)

Some machines may have you bypass going underneath the thread guide that the tension disc rests on, so check your diagram. 

setting up bobbin winding

Next, put the bobbin on the bobbin winder shaft. 

A spring on the shaft should slide into the bobbin groove as you turn the bobbin clockwise. You will feel it click into place.

setting up bobbin winding

Slide the shaft to the right. You will feel another click into place.

setting up bobbin winding

For Brother Sewing Machines With a Fast Bobbin-Winding System

Hold the end of the thread with your left hand, and with your right hand, wrap the free end of the thread clockwise around the bobbin several times.

setting up bobbin winding

Pass the thread through the slit in the base of the bobbin seat to trim the excess thread.

speed slider

Now, press the foot controller or touch the on/off button and slide the speed controller to the right. The bobbin will begin winding quickly!

When the bobbin is almost full, it will start slowing down, and most models will stop winding. Take your foot off the pedal or press the stop button at this point. 

For Brother Sewing Machines Without Fast Bobbin Winding

Insert the end of the thread into one of the small holes in the bobbin. 

Turn on the sewing machine and either press the start button (if your machine is computerized) or press the foot pedal down while holding the end of the thread. 

Use low foot pressure or the slowest slider speed when pressing start/stop to wind the thread a few times. Then, press down harder or increase speed to wind the bobbin fully.

For All Sewing Machines

winding brother bobbin

Now, clip the excess thread and slide the bobbin winding pin back to the left. Remove the bobbin and check that it’s wound evenly and not too loosely.

How to Install The Bobbin on a Brother Sewing Machine

After the bobbin is threaded, it’s time to install the bobbin on your Brother sewing machine. Since the newer Brother sewing machines feature quick-set, top-drop bobbins, this threading portion is simple.

First, turn the power off on your machine and raise the needle to its highest position using the needle up button (computerized machines only) or turning the hand wheel towards you. 

raise presser foot

Raise the presser foot also.

opening brother bobbin case

Next, press the button near the bobbin cover on the right of the machine’s base to open the cover. Remove the cover.

winding brother sewing machine bobbin

Drop your bobbin in as shown above or in the diagram on the base of your sewing machine. If you were to pull your thread, the bobbin should spin counterclockwise.

lower sewing machine thread

Then, feed the end of the thread through the bottom slit, catching the tension spring on the bobbin case. Missing the tension spring will cause improper bobbin tension and a heap of sewing issues.

threading the brother bobbin

Next, pull the thread around as directed on the machine and use the built-in cutter.  

lower brother presser foot

Replace the bobbin case cover. The left tab goes under the base, and the right side will click into place.

Threading the Brother Sewing Machine Upper Thread

Once the lower bottom thread is set, it’s time to thread the top thread on your Brother sewing machine. 

Make sure your sewing machine is still off, the presser foot is elevated, and the needle is up. Ensuring these things are in the correct position prevents sewing machine tension issues

The spool of thread should also still be on the spool pin.

passing thread through guide

First, feed the thread through the first thread guide on the top left of the machine. Go from back to forward with the thread.

passing thread through guide

passing thread through guide

Pull the thread down and pass it through the guides and tension discs in the U-shaped channel on the front of the machine. Go from right to left, following the arrows on the machine. 

passing thread through guide

There will be a thread take-up lever at the far top left of the thread path. Make sure the thread goes into this lever. 

passing thread through guide

Then, wrap the thread around the needle bar thread guide, a silver hook above the needle base. There’s an opening on the back right to get the thread through.

Last, pass the thread through the eye of the needle from front to back and pull the thread a few inches out. Place it below and then behind the presser foot. 

If you have a built-in needle threader, keep reading if you don’t want to thread the needle manually. 

If you don’t have an automatic thread and have issues threading the needle, check out my tips and tools to help thread a sewing machine needle.

How to Use the Brother Automatic Needle Threader

While the idea of an automatic needle threader is appealing, the reliability and ease of use of this device are lacking, in my opinion. 

However, to thread your Brother machine using the automatic needle threader, first, lower the presser foot using its lever.

using brother auto needle threader

Then, lower the needle threader lever about halfway (it’s the gray lever on the machine’s left).

Hook the thread onto the guide (the upside-down V shape.) The thread should go from the top right and under the V to then around the guide to the right. As if you were threading counterclockwise.

using brother auto needle threader

Next, lower the needle threader all the way. You’ll see the hook pass through the eye of the needle as the threader rotates toward you.

Inside the big hook that’s now in the eye of the needle, there’s a super tiny hook. Pull your thread back all the way into the big hook and catch it on the tiny hook. 

It helps to catch the hook more easily if you run the thread along the back of the guide from bottom to top using your hands.

threaded brother sewing machine

Keep hold of the free end of the thread. Then, release the needle threader lever. 

As it rotates back in place, the thread will be pulled through the eye of the needle. 

Pull the thread out a few inches and place it behind and below the presser foot before you start sewing.

As I mentioned, I think this is a complicated, finicky apparatus. My inside hook is constantly bending the wrong way, and it’s a pain to keep adjusting to fit through the eye of the needle on its own. I prefer to thread by hand!

How to Thread a Brother Sewing Machine

Now, the beauty of Brother quick-set bobbins is once the thread goes through the eye of the needle, you’re ready to start using your Brother sewing machine! 

There’s no reason to fiddle with drawing up the bobbin thread–the sewing machine will do that once you start sewing.


Now you’ve learned how to thread a Brother sewing machine! Specifically, upper threading, winding the bobbin, installing the bobbin, and drawing up the lower thread when you start sewing. 

If you forget how to thread the next time you try, remember most Brother machines include instructions on the machine’s body! Once you’ve practiced threading a few times, you will notice it becomes second nature.

And, if you’re entirely new to sewing, read more about the best threads for a Brother sewing machine to see what threads are compatible with your new machine. 


  1. I think the Brother is a great machine and I’m still practicing on it, I really love this machine. I do agree with you about the needle threader, it is very daunting and complicated. Thanks for your wonderful help.

  2. I have a Brother Pacesetter XL 5100. I would like to see if someone has a manual for it, as it is pretty complicated (to me), and I cannot even get it threaded!

  3. Brother HC1850 How do I use the larger spools of thread that come on a cone?? . 3 days,I’m in love with my machine!!
    Really looked forward to self THREADER but it’s flimsy and it stopped turning towards the needle

    1. Yes, the needle threaders are just so finicky at times!

      As for large spools and cones that don’t fit on the machine, you can feed them from a thread stand (ex: Dritz 896 Cone Thread Holder). You can also rig your own setup if you prefer. There are several videos out there of people using DIY thread stands that you should be able to find on YouTube.

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