How to Thread a Singer Sewing Machine Step-By-Step Pics + Videos

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Looking for how to thread a Singer sewing machine?  That’s what I’ll be teaching you today in this easy tutorial!

Learning to thread a sewing machine can be difficult, especially if you’re a beginner!  While all sewing machines are threaded in fairly similar ways, if you have no experience, threading your Singer sewing machine may seem like a daunting task.

You can find instructions for threading most varieties of Singer sewing machines in the machine’s instruction manual, quick-start guide, and often on the body of the sewing machine.  However, diagrams sometimes are confusing, and it’s easier to see threading in color on a real sewing machine.  That’s what I’m seeking to provide you!

I own four Singer sewing machines (a Singer Start 1304, Singer 4423 heavy-duty sewing machine, Singer 4452 heavy-duty sewing machine, and 40+-year-old Singer Touchtronic from my Mom.)  I’ll be using the Singer 1304 as a model for threading but will include some pictures from the other models.  Most modern Singer models should be threaded very similarly.

I’ll cover how to thread the upper thread, how to wind the bobbin on a Singer sewing machine, and how to install the bobbin in either a front-load or top-load fashion.  Then, we’ll talk about how to raise the bobbin thread before you get started sewing.  While obviously not all Singer sewing machines are threaded identically, I hope I’ve included enough pictures to help you learn to thread your Singer sewing machine.

How to Thread a singer sewing machine

How to Thread a Singer Sewing Machine Videos

Now, before we start in text, here is a video I created for how to thread your Singer sewing machine if you’d prefer video format.  My husband taped them, so sorry if he’s a little wobbly!  This is me threading the Singer Start 1304.

I’ve also done a whole separate tutorial for how to thread a Singer heavy-duty sewing machine with pictures that will be more helpful if you have a heavy-duty sewing machine.

How to Wind a Bobbin on a Singer Sewing Machine

The first step in threading your new Singer sewing machine is to wind the bobbin.  This happens on the top of the sewing machine.  Make sure you’re using a compatible bobbin for your sewing machine.  In the case of my Singer 1304, this is a class 15, transparent bobbin.

The first step is to set your thread on the spool pin.  If your spool pin is horizontal, you will need to place an appropriately-sized spool cap on top to keep the thread from coming off when you start to sew.  If the spool pin is vertical, this spool cap is not as crucial if the spool is stable.  And if your machine came with a spool pin felt (a small white donut-looking felt piece), you can place this underneath the thread spool.

Next, pull the end of the thread and pass it through the first thread guide on the machine.  Here’s what this looks like on the Singer 1304 followed by what it looks like on a Singer heavy-duty.

pull through first thread guide

pull thread through the second thread guide

Next, wind your thread counterclockwise around the tension disc, which is a small circular piece of metal on your Singer sewing machine.  Make sure the thread goes in between the tension discs.  You might feel a little pop when you thread it between.  It’s nice that most Singer sewing machines have some threading directions imprinted on the sewing machine body if you need a little extra guidance.

side view of bobbin tension disc

Place your thread through the small circle in the hole on the top of the bobbin and place the bobbin on the bobbin spindle.  It will pop into place so it doesn’t move around loosely.

hold top of bobbin thread

Push the bobbin spindle to the right.  Hold the end of the thread and gently step on the foot controller or use the start button on your computerized machine.  The thread will wind around the bobbin a few times.  I like to stop at this point and cut the loose thread end before continuing.  You no longer need to hold the end of the thread after this point.

wind a few times using the foot pedal

Then, press the pedal full force and watch your bobbin wind!  Once it gets close to full, it should start to slow down.  At this point, go ahead and release the foot pedal or press the stop button.  Push the bobbin spool pin back to the left and cut the end of the thread.  Remove the bobbin from the spool pin.

push bobbin back to left and cut the thread

How to Insert the Bobbin on a Singer Sewing Machine

After the bobbin is wound, it’s time to insert the bobbin on your Singer sewing machine.  There are two types of bobbins you’ll find on most Singer sewing machines: top-load or front-load.  The more basic mechanical Singer sewing machines feature a front-load bobbin.  My Mom’s old Touchtronic has a top-load, and my Singer heavy duty has a top-load also.  I’ll show you how to load both types of bobbins.  You should be able to extrapolate from these directions for your specific machine.

For both types of bobbins, first, turn the power off on your machine and raise the needle to its highest position.  This is accomplished using either the hand wheel (always turn towards you only) or the needle up button on a computerized Singer sewing machine.  Raise the presser foot also.  Here’s what your hand wheel looks like if that’s a new term for you.

turn handwheel towards you

How to Install a Front-Load Bobbin on a Singer Sewing Machine

To get to your front-load bobbin, remove the small accessories compartment extension table on your sewing machine and pull open the hinged cover.

There’s a small tab on the front of the bobbin case.  Pull this towards you, kind of like you’re opening a Coke tab, and remove the bobbin case.

how to insert the bobbin case on a singer sewing machine

I think installing the bobbin on a front-load sewing machine is the hardest part of threading a Singer sewing machine, so be patient with yourself here!

First, hold the bobbin as you see below.  I like to remember that the little metal “L” shape goes on the “Left” so it looks like the letter “L.”  This “L” is called the bobbin finger if you care to know!

put the bobbin in this orientation

Orient your thread in your other hand with the thread in a clockwise direction.  The end of the thread will be going in the opposite direction of where the “L” is going.  Insert the thread into the bobbin case.

orient the thread in this orientation

Pull the thread through the small slit in the side of the bobbin case and then under the other slit.  It should look like these two pictures below when properly threaded.  You want to make sure you leave several inches of thread to work with outside the bobbin case.

pull the thread through the bobbin case pulling thread through the bobbin case

Now, open the little tab on the bobbin case again and reinsert it where you got it from.  Technically, this location is called the shuttle of the sewing machine.  You want to insert with the little finger of the case (the “L”) up in the air towards the machine.  I like to remember this as giving my front-load bobbin the finger because I’ve conquered this task, but that’s just how I remember it…

how to insert the bobbin case

As a note, when you are inserting the bobbin, you need to make sure to push it far enough before you release the tab.  If you remove your finger and the bobbin rotates around, then you need to try again.  A properly inserted bobbin will not move around.  It will sit beautifully like below!

what the bobbin case should look like when its done correctly

Lastly, go ahead and close the cover of the shuttle again and reinsert the extension table if desired.

How to Install a Top-Load Bobbin on a Singer Sewing Machine

Top-load bobbins are much easier to install!  Here is how to do this on my Singer heavy-duty sewing machine.

First, press the button near the bobbin cover on the base of the machine to the right to open the cover.  Remove the cover and drop your bobbin in.  In terms of orientation, if you were to pull the thread, the bobbin would spin in a counterclockwise direction.  Many top-load bobbin machines have directions on the base of your sewing machine you can refer to also.

Next, pull the end of the thread through the slit in the bottom of the bobbin case, and pull it around in a U-shape and under the other slit.

how to orient bobbin bobbin case front load

Pull it behind the presser foot for now, and replace the bobbin case cover. The left tab goes under the base again.  The right side will click back into place.

top load bobbin

How to Thread the Top of a Singer Sewing Machine

Once you’ve gotten the bobbin winding and installation taken care of, it’s time to thread the top thread on your Singer sewing machine.

Ensure your sewing machine remains off, the needle is in the highest position, and your thread is still on the spool pin.  Raise the presser foot if you hadn’t already.  If you thread with the presser foot down, this messes with the tension of your sewing machine, so this is VERY important to have good quality stitches later!

To start threading, pass the thread through the first thread guide like you did when winding the bobbin.

pull through first thread guide

Next, pass the thread around the second thread guide (below the tension discs you used for the bobbin.)  Go under and then down towards you.  Make sure the thread looks like the diagram.

put under and around the thread guide

Pull the thread down the right channel on the front of the sewing machine.

thread the takeup lever

Make a U at the bottom and run the thread up the left channel.  At the top is the take-up lever.  Thread from right to left through the take-up lever.  If your needle is not already in the up position, the thread take-up lever may be too low to get the thread through.

pull down through thread guide go around thread take up lever (2)

Pull the thread back down towards the base of the sewing machine.

thread the takeup lever

On the top of the workspace is a wire needle clap guide.  Pull the thread inside this.  There should be an opening on the right or left side, depending on the machine.

pull through thread guide

Next, thread the needle from front to back if you’re threading by hand.  I’ve made a post about threading a sewing machine needle easily if you’re looking for helpful tips!

How to Use the Singer Automatic Needle Threader

If there’s one thing I have learned with needle threaders in my time as a sewist, it’s that they’re delicate and temperamental.  To use the automatic needle threader to thread the needle instead of doing it by hand, here’s what you’ll need to do.

First, lower the presser foot using the lever.

Lower the needle threader lever about half-way down using the lever on the side of the threader, and then hook the thread onto the guide. It’s an upside-down, metal V-shape.  The thread goes from the top right and under the V to then around the guide towards your right.  As if you were threading counterclockwise.

using the singer needle threader

Then, lower the needle threader all the way and rotate it towards you.  You’ll see the hook pass through the eye of the needle.  (If it doesn’t, you may need to adjust your needle height.)

Inside the big hook that’s now in the eye of the needle, there’s a super tiny hook.  I zoomed in as much as possible with the below picture, so sorry if it is grainy!  Pull your thread back 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.

the hook on the singer auto needle threader

While still holding the end of the thread, rotate the needle threader back from the needle and allow it to return to its original position.  As this is happening, the thread will be pulled through the eye of the needle.

singer auto needle threader

Raising the Bobbin Thread

For most Singer mechanical sewing machines, top-drop and front-load bobbins both, you have to raise the bobbin thread before you start sewing.

While holding the upper thread, gently turn the handwheel (using your other hand) towards you to advance the needle.  Pull the upper thread gently, thus drawing up the bobbin thread through the small hole in the needle plate.

draw up bobbin thread

Put both threads underneath and behind the presser foot.

place behind the presser foot


Congratulations!  You’ve now learned how to thread your Singer sewing machine.  This includes threading the upper thread, winding the bobbin, inserting the bobbin, and raising the bobbin thread.  I know it may seem daunting at first, but once you’ve practiced it a bit, you’ll be a pro.

And, if you need help with differentiating thread types and brands, check out how to choose the best thread for a Singer sewing machine

Happy sewing!

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One Comment

  1. mary mader says:

    I appreciate this video. It was explained in a simple manner that I needed. Thank you so much

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