How do you un-thread your

I truly need to begin this post with a disclaimer.  This (as most blog posts are), is my own personal opinion, based on impartial research that I have conducted.

How you un-thread says a lot about you. If you are over 25, you will probably pull the spool off the machine, and drag the thread out of your machine backwards.  If you are newer to sewing and stitching, you will probably have been taught to snip the thread at the top of the feed pass, and pull the excess threads through the needle.

The pull excess thread through the needle movement appeared over 7 years ago, and like all good urban legends, I am having a lot of trouble finding a source of expertise. I have checked into all of the major brands of sewing machine manuals – using the most up-to-date models, and I can find no reference to this being a recommended practice (I am more than happy to be wrong here if someone has a manual with this written).  I have found a lot of anecdotal  evidence on the user group sphere, of people quoting “a friend of mine”, or “my friends mechanic”.


The basic premise of pulling the thread through the needle is that it is the path the thread is naturally attempting to take, and it doesn’t go against your tension, and avoids any “extra” fluff gumming up the machine.

However, as a person who cleans their machine monthly (at least), uses high quality threads (one of the joys of polyester is the strength and lack of fluff and breakage), I don’t necessarily see a lot of value in this practice.

One sewing machine brand that I have spoken with has told me that this practice has been introduced by mechanics to attempt to stop people from dragging threads backwards through the machine whilst the tension is engaged. I totally understand that this would be a terrible idea, however it would also be a terrible idea to drag the thread through the needle whilst the tension was engaged and not stitching, so the true trick here is to dis-engage the tension (lift up the presser foot), before you remove thread, no matter what way you are going.

On speaking with my mechanic, he has told me that after 50 years in the business, he has never seen the way thread is removed as an issue with machines.

I am over 25 (by nearly 20 years), and was taught the traditional method of trim the thread near the needle, and pull the thread backwards, winding onto your thread spool.

So far, this has worked for me. I do a little giggle in classes when ladies get flustered because they “forgot” to unthread the other way.  Once or twice is certainly not going to be a deal breaker for your machine.


My other concern, as a little bit of a miser, is that I would be “wasting” a reasonable amount of thread over the course of my stitching life. Whilst it is not a significant amount for each design, it does add up, and hurts my head when I think of the waste.

At the end of the day, I truly believe after all of my research that there is no right or wrong on this practice. If you are comfortable in the way you are changing your threads – continue, if you are having issues, consider trying the other way.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

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  • Reply
    Toni Grant
    January 14, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I agree I am almost 72 (wow) and have been sewing for years and yes take the spool off and pull out thread and re wind. Love your site. Toni

    • Reply
      January 16, 2017 at 4:51 am

      Dear Toni, thank you so much for your lovely comments. 72 is a baby – plenty of stitchin’ years left.

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