The History of the Needle Threader

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A needle threader makes it easy to thread sewing needles.
A needle threader makes it easy to thread sewing needles. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The needle threader is a handy sewing tool that takes the pain and frustration out of a tricky task. Needle threaders come in many shapes and sizes and as attachments on modern sewing machines. These tools have been around for many years and, though their origin is uncertain, their development can be traced through the years.

What is a Needle Threader?

A needle threader is a small sewing tool that often consists of a round metal piece to which a diamond-shaped wire is attached. Many needle threaders are made from thin metal, such as tin, and are stamped with the shape of the queen's head. This design dates to the Victorian era, though modern needle threader designs do exist. The diamond-shaped wire, the part of the tool that threads the needle, is typically very thin and flexible steel wire.

History of Needle Threaders

It is unclear when the first needle threaders came to be, but the design with the queen's head became popular during the Victorian era. Made from tin, Victorian era needle threaders were inexpensive to make and easy to use. A number of needle threading devices were patented in the United States in the early 1900s, including Herman Trzeciak's model patented in 1924 and Carl J. Schuster's design in 1945. The first automatic needle threader incorporated into a sewing machine was designed by Juki in 1978.

Modern Needle Threaders

Today, needle threaders are still available in the classic Victorian design, but there are also many new designs. You can find needle threaders with ergonomic handles that include miniature LED lights for increased visibility in addition to the standard coin-shaped handle now made from durable plastic. In addition to hand-held needle threaders, many modern sewing machines include a convenient needle threading device. The process of threading both sewing needles and machine needles has become quite easy thanks to modern technology.

How to Use a Needle Threader

To use a needle threader properly, hold the handle between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand. Insert the diamond-shaped wire through the eye of the needle, bringing the needle into contact with the handle. Run a piece of thread through the tip of the wire and loop it in half. Holding the thread with one hand, pull the needle away from the handle and back up the wire. When you pull the needle off the wire completely, the thread will pass through the eye of the needle and your needle will be threaded.

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